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Hip2Save This Holiday: Family Newsletter

1:16 PM MST
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Hip2Save This Holiday Guest Post Submitted By Reader Kimberly

Having belonged to several different mom’s groups over the past eight years, I have had the privilege of seeing some highly crafty and organized people make a true art out of scrapbooking and other memory-making, keepsake creating ventures. To this end, they all sound so wonderful and I have always adored the concept behind efforts to create a legacy of family memories. However, despite my wholehearted desires to create and participate in bringing home the many ideas presented to me, I find that I just don’t have the time (especially with couponing and working part time) to keep up with it all year long.

So, here is where MY family tradition comes into play. While everyone is likely familiar with the “family newsletter” (which is generally a one page news brief of family happenings of the year, coupled with well wishes for the holiday season) I have a feeling that few readers have seen anything like mine :-)

Like many others out there, I have always liked to send out Christmas cards. Eventually, I too was sending out the yearly newsletter. Then something happened. Our family started growing and changing and we kept having too many events and worthy happenings to put in our one page letter. Despite my efforts to condense the details of our life into a tidy one page letter, I just couldn’t do it. So, breaking all the informal “rules” associated with the common Christmas letter, I proceeded onto the backside of page one. Eventually, I found myself writing in tiny tiny 9pt font and squishing and squishing.

Then again, our family changed and to be quite frank, I gave up the quest to fit my letter into the conforming annual stereotype. With each new family member, and each passing year, we kept having such great fun that our annual Christmas letter has gradually exploded into a mini novella full of our family story. I decided that instead of cutting things out of my letter, I would go out of my way to help friends and family appreciate the many diverse aspects of our family. And, instead of mentally berating myself for being a horrible mother who wasn’t scrapbooking, writing annual letters to my kids or otherwise creating wonderful memory banks, I decided that my Christmas newsletter would be the official yearly memory bank.

With four little kids running around, I have found that I needed a system for keeping track of special newsworthy moments. And, I know that if I tried to write a detailed end of the year newsletter of the magnitude that I do, I’d never remember all the things that happened that were meaningful to me as a parent. So, beginning in January, and lasting throughout the year, I have a bulletin board that is used to collect things for my newsletter. I go out of my way to include funny stories, funny things the kids say, challenges and changes in child development, trips taken and adventures had, achievements as well as set backs and everything in between. If you keep track of the nuances of your family, you’d be surprised at the many things that become noteworthy. Quirky behaviors, favorites of the day, arguments that kids have, the many funny things kids say and do, your own observations of your children as they grow and develop… I try to capture it all and tell it in a funny way.

All it takes to get started is a snippet of paper with a quote, funny observation or even a trigger word to help you remember an event. Tack it on the board and walk away, knowing that the memory will be preserved until you’re ready to compile your yearly recap. Eventually, as the year progresses, you’ll have a pile of snippets that you can arrange into themes and work into your Christmas newsletter. Having used this process for the past several years, I can tell you that it works much better than trying to sit down and write a family history with a blank slate…

And so, as November approaches, I head to the computer and begin my annual story of our year. I’ve noticed that Publisher is a great program for making our newsletter as it has fabulous text boxes and borders that can be easily manipulated to compartmentalize each little section of your letter. Complete with photos, funny quotes, sections for every family member (even the dog), my Christmas Novella, detail the past 12 months of Life at the Bonfiglios. Last year, our family Christmas newsletter was 13 pages long!!

Though I know that my children don’t yet appreciate this tradition, I am confident that as they get older they will so greatly appreciate reading about themselves and the many wonderful stories of their childhood. Even now they beg me to tell them stories of their babyhood. As a side bonus, my extended family and friends enjoy getting to know the unique personalities that exist amongst our four children and are highly entertained by their trials and tribulations throughout the year.

Again, our tradition isn’t that unique or crafty. But, very valuable to me personally and one that friends and family treasure as well. The photo enclosed includes pictures of several of our mini family histories. Perhaps someone out there might get inspired to start the same tradition :-)

For more information on my new Hip2Save This Holiday series and to learn how you can participate in the fun, click here!

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  • Dawn says:

    love it, but you have to spend a lot on postage every year!

  • extremecouponqueen says:

    This is a cute idea, but i’d want to leave it to 2 pages or something. I can’t imagine getting someone’s Christmas letter and it being 13 pages long. That seems kind of ridiculous.

    • Kelli says:

      You wrote exactly what I was going to say! 13 pages is great for your personnel family, but to send to everyone, that’s a little too much. I did a Christmas letter for many years, but then felt the letter was unappreciated, so I stopped and no one seemed to notice. Christmas letters are definitely a science to write!

      • Cari says:

        I definitely agree, not being mean but I would think my family was crazy if I got a 13 page long newsletter from them!! I probably wouldn’t read it!

    • Anna says:

      I agree!!

    • Claudia M says:

      Agreed! Plus it would cost a ton to print all of those pages in color and mail them.

      I think this would work out well for a family keepsake for your own family, but I would never mail something that long to extended family and friends and think they would read it all!

    • Heather says:

      To each their own, but I disagree! I think it’s great – and I think it’s more for the writer and her family than it is for everyone else even. That captures the “year in a nutshell” and she can keep it forever! Personally, I’d love it if you would email me some of what you have done in the past so I could get some ideas for my own! As a mother of 2 .. when I send out photos to someone, or a letter/update, etc.. sometimes it’s hard to press it all into a page!

    • Annie says:

      I agree that this would be really obnoxious from someone with whom I wasn’t very close, but I’m sure grandparents, children’s godparents, etc… love it!

    • Laura says:

      Yeah, I agree. I have heard from many people that they don’t even bother reading the 1 page ones.

      • Heidi says:

        Wow, what a variety of opinions! I cant imagine getting a 1 page newsletter from someone and NOT read it!! What the heck??? Its hard to imagine that people are either that busy or that uninterested. To each their own, but I LOVE to receive them!

    • Laura says:

      I would read every page! :) It would be so much fun to receive!

    • Carrie says:

      My family and I get a ton of similar letters from families, from their pets, from their little mouse in their house, from the elves to the kids….. I know families love them, but for the rest of us… well at our house for Christmas we read them aloud to all attending and get a ton of laughs, then vote for the most narcissitic/facebook loving family of them all…. so great amusement but plenty of other things to do with my money and time…… charities… family.. etc etc..

      • francoise1 says:

        @ Carrie: What an appalling Christmas tradition! To spend part of Christmas day making fun of others who have been kind enough to think of you during the holidays. THIS is what you are teaching your children. I’ve truly heard it all.

        • Laura says:

          Fran- I’ve never done that, but I have heard for multiple people that it’s a common thing families do…

          • francoise1 says:

            Laura, The fact that it’s not unusual for families to engage in such a tradition doesn’t make it any less disgraceful, IMO. It only serves to tell me that some families have not only lost sight of the spirit of Christmas, but, frankly, have also become acclimated to insensitive, ungrateful, and crass behavior. That such a “disease” can spread is not surprising.

  • kat r says:

    Great idea for a family diary

  • Ashley57 says:

    Cool idea – when I first saw the post, I was thinking…well tons of people write a family newsletter…this one is certainly different! Thanks for sharing. Just curious – how many people do you send this to?

  • Jess says:

    What about just putting up a blog post each year with the newsletter information and just printing copies for people that don’t have internet? You could mail them postcards with the website address if they want to look at the website, and just e-mail or send Facebook notes to the other people. Setting up a blog is a breeze.

  • Brittany says:

    A family friend used to do this every year at Christmas, it was usally just 1 page and no pictures. But a great way to get caught up with their lives over the last year.

    • Cari says:

      1 page is way better then 13! That people would actually read.

      • Heidi says:

        I would happily read 13 pages! It would probably take 10 minutes tops and I am interested in what my friends/family have done all year. Do people really not have 10-minutes to spare to read about someones lives that you exchange cards with or are you just not interested?

        • MommySpendsLess says:

          My mother has two brothers and a sister, all spread out in different states. There wasn’t a significant incident but due to age and personality differences she and her brothers were not close. Every year we would receive an obnoxiously braggy letter and pictures from one of my uncles. It wasn’t really to let everyone know how they were doing but rather to show off their accomplishments and it appeared to have a broad distribution list. In that case, yes, 1 page was too much and 13 pages would have been terrible.

          This sounds a bit more real and fun. For me though, everyone that would possibly, maybe enjoy a newsletter like that has already gotten the information from Facebook (which is family/close+real friends only and primarily features tidbits about our daughter). The only except is my 87 year old grandmother and I send her cards and pictures whenever Collin posts a deal.

  • Rebecca says:

    Personally, I think you’re amazing. I too have four kids and I’m lucky if I even get signed Christmas cards out, let alone a letter! Kudos!

  • Heidi says:

    What a great idea. I love, love, love to receive Christmas letters from people. I dont care if its a close relative or some old friend that I rarely see, I just LOVE to receive them. Sadly, in recent years I have been receiving less of them. I wish more people would do them. I would love to receive ones that were 12-13 pages long. I say the longer the better. Of course, I am the type of person that is truly interested in peoples lives that I exchange cards with. I wish more people would take the time to do these! Thanks for sharing!

  • Collin (Mrs. Hip) says:

    I think this is such a wonderful idea. If you are not wanting to put together such a long newsletter for friend and neighbors, maybe just do one for your family. I think being able to look back on these types of things for years to come is so fun and I know my kiddos will get a kick out of seeing what they were doing each year. :)

    • Rebecca says:

      I am a scrapbooker, but I like to add the letter (when we actually do one) to my scrapbook! This was a great reminder to work on my letter. I’m really going to do ours this year!!
      Thanks, Collin!

  • Susan says:

    In the years I have been a Hip2Save follower I do not think I have ever left a comment, but after reading these comments I had to say something. I understand that not everyone agrees with the long letter about your family being sent out, and that might not be your thing, or something that you would appreciate if you received. That is what makes the world beautiful is that we are all differnt, otherwise how boring would it be if we all thought the same thoughts, like the same books, wore the same clothes, watched the same movies, had the same dreams, ect. But some of your comments have made me truly sad, this woman was just sharing what she does with her family that obviously brings great joy to her, and some of you have actaully taken the time to post how it is “ridiculous” and “abnoxious” ect….what purpose did taking the time to post that serve, if you didn’t like it or didn’t agree with it, why bother making a flat out mean comment. I am ashamed at where our country has gone to where we so easily use our words to hurt other people. The tounge is a powerful weapon and I hope that I always use mine to build others up and those times where I know what I want to say is not kind I thank the Good Lord for parents who raised me to know when to KEEP MY MOUTH SHUT!

    • Rebecca says:

      Well said!

      • Ashley57 says:

        Thank you Susan – I was thinking that too. The person who does these letters is obviously very proud of them (as she should be!) and there is no reason to be mean. What happened to if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?

    • Jessica says:

      Agreed. For those who don’t appreciate or want to participate in this idea… so what I do when Colin posts a deal I’m not interested in… Keep on scrolling!

    • lynne ATL says:

      Bravo! The Internet allows people to say things they would never say face to face. Some people don’t know when to shut up.

    • Kathy B says:

      Very well said. That old saying if “you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything” should have applied to lots of these commenters. Shame on them for tearing down someone’s idea just because they didn’t think it was so great :(

    • Cari says:

      Luckily, we live in the United States of America and last I checked people were entitled to their own opinions. Also we have a little something called Freedom of Speech :) People are allowed to post and comment their opinions, with this being be comments section and all :)

  • ashley says:

    I think its an adoreable idea! When I have kids I will do this…I love the idea :) Ive never heard of one of these before but I wish my family would do it! I feel I don’t know much about my extended family at all…I have 10 minutes to spare :)

  • Joy says:

    Unfortunately, Christmas family newsletters and Christmas cards in general (including photo ones) are a dying art thanks to social media and blogs. That said, if some one sent me one I would be delighted to read it as long as it doesn’t come across as bragging. I hate when people send me a Christmas card or newsletter and it’s full of all their family photos from the 10 vacations they took that year instead of everyday life pics. It’s okay to include one or two family vacation photos but please don’t overkill it. Give me 5-6 photos of your messy kids, your athletic kids, your silly kids or whatever, but be mindful about how many vacation photos you include. LOL. It’s just common social grace and manners to not brag like that.

    As for Kimberly’s newsletter, if her family appreciates and comes to expect the traditional newsletter than I say keep doing it. I’m sure the grandparents and those who aren’t social media savvy love receiving them. :)

  • amanda says:

    Some of us don’t live near family. As a military family that only gets to visit “HOME” maybe once a year, this is an awesome idea! Thank you so much for sharing, I would have never thought of this. And I am certain that my family would love to receive a letter, even a 13 page one at that! (Especially since wd just had another bundle of joy join our family :)

  • Shantel says:

    It’s great she will have these to look back on. We have a family blog that is updated every week or so. Every January, I transfer the blog info into a book from A forever momento the boys will be able to look through as they grow older. Even grandkids will be able to see how their fathers were as children.

  • LC says:

    I think if you have time to post mean & nasty comments about someone’s tradition, then you have time to read a 13 page newsletter about your loved ones :)

  • Jenny says:

    What a great idea! I thought Collin only had 3 kids??

  • maflies1 says:

    If you stuff the Christmas letters in your Christmas cards that are prepaid from Collin’s deals, it will cut down, or not cost you anything-depending on the number of pages. :-)

  • Danielle says:

    Kimberly thank you so much for sharing! That is what is great about a tradition! it is something you and your family CHERISH every year! it may not work for some… but it would be great for others.

    Honestly, I think this would be a great idea for my college friends and I, we have all become so spread out across the globe, some married, some with kids, some just living the single life, it would be nice to have updated pictures, and a nice little story about what has been going on :)

  • Kristen says:

    I think that even if you didn’t print copies for everyone (plus you could always email it), it would be great to print one (or one for each child) and keep them in a binder that you add to each year. I just might do this!

  • Patti says:

    I appreciate the idea of trying to share something personal with your friends and loved ones but I also agree it’s a very hard thing to do without sounding like you’re bragging. I don’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings or be mean – it’s just something I’ve thought about writing and can’t! I think if you put all the wonderful things down about your family only, people perceive it as bragging. But then again no one wants to read pages about the week we all had a cold or were late paying a bill either lol! Like someone else said, it definitely is a science!

    • Ashley57 says:

      I don’t know why people keep saying it is bragging – I want to know the good things that happen in my friends and families lives! They are sending me a Christmas card for goodness sake, so I must know them pretty well or be related to them. I would love more of an update from people I get Christmas cards from.

      • Heidi says:

        Totally agree with you Ashley57! I have never understood the whole “bragging” concept that people complain about with Christmas letters. Hopefully, the people that you exchange Christmas cards with are people that you care about and are INTERESTED in. Therefore you would WANT to read the details about their year. Of course people are mostly going to write about the good/fun/exciting times of the year. Do you really want to read about little Johnny failing math and little Susy being bullied and how Mary is getting treated for depression and how Frank had an affair???? I mean if people want to write about that, then fine, but for me hearing about what some people consider “bragging” is lots of fun. I truly dont understand how someone would get offended by reading about someone taking multiple vacations or that their kid made the honor roll or was the home run hitter on the baseball team. To me those are fun and uplifting things to read about, especially coming from a family that you exchange Christmas cards with and supposenly CARE about! I cant help but feel that the people who think of a familys letter with good news is “bragging” must be a very jealous and bitter soul.

        • Patti says:

          Jealous and Bitter souls? Wow. I’m sorry you don’t think other people can have opinions different than yours without something being wrong with their “souls” but honestly you are the one who sounds harsh and bitter.

          • Heidi says:

            Hey Patti, Where the heck did I say that I dont think people can have different opinions than mine???? I specifically said that people who read a loved ones happy letter about their vacations or accomplishments and see that as “bragging” must be jealous and bitter. I mean what can be better than hearing about the wonderful things going on in your loved ones lives. I truly dont get the whole “bragging” thing or just the plain disinterest that people have in their loved ones lives. Now, I say loved ones, because that is who most people exchange cards with……people they care about! If the fact that I enjoy hearing about the good times and accomplishments of my friends/family makes me sound “harsh and bitter” well, I dont know what to say………….except that is the strangest thing I have EVER heard. Cheer up Patti!!

  • francoise1 says:

    This is Fabulous, Kimberly!

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