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Hip2Save This Holiday: Family Newsletter

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!