A little backstory: I've always loved to send out Christmas cards, and at one point in college I actually made each and every one differently, by creating collages on the front of each card. After I got married, I didn't have so much time to make every card unique, but I would write something different in each one. Now, years later and three kids happier, I have established a Christmas card routine that works for me: we order photo cards, and insert a holiday letter in most of them. I still take a few minutes to write a personal note on most of them (sorry if you get one without!).
But the problem for me now is finding even a few minutes to write that holiday letter, AND make it sound entertaining, meaningful, and humble. I mean, I can't help it if my kids and husband are the most awesome people I know, right?
1. Making a banner for my Christmas tree. I simply printed the words to one of my favorite holiday songs, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," on this cool onion-skin paper I found at Grandma's house (it's probably 40 years old, but I'm sure vellum would work), and then cut it in strips and taped them together on the back side with transparent tape (my fave tape - magic tape is so not magic!). Here's another view:
2. I made these fun twine balls with my kids, by blowing up small balloons, covering them in twine, and then coating the twine with watered-down glue. After the glue dries, you simply push the balloon away from the twine (so it's not stuck), and then pop the balloon. This is not a great photo, but you get the idea:
3. I made a handmade birthday/Christmas card for one of my favorite aunts, to whom I owe a lot of my creative inspiration. I used an idea I saw in a Christmas magazine, and used different circles of fabric and paper to make a tree on the front of the card. Then I decorated it with buttons and other fun stuff I had lying around. I sent it off before I got a photo of the finished project, so you'll have to go see my Aunt Em for the after shot:
So after all that, I finally wrote my Christmas letter. I always try to organize it so it is easy to read, and doesn't take up someone' s whole afternoon to read it. I like to include:
- A title, like "Happy Holidays 2011!" or "Season's Greetings from the Jeppsons!"
- A brief intro that tells about something we've been doing recently, or a clever quip from one of the kids. Last year, I wrote about Josie singing the wrong lyrics to "Deck the Halls." She sang it as, "Change the season to be jolly!" and I thought that was appropriate. There was also the memorable year that every one of my kids was scared of Santa, and I had to sit in on the annual Santa photo. That's all good stuff.
- A paragraph about each kid, highlighting only a few of their accomplishments from the year. I try to include just the best stuff, that doesn't sound like I'm bragging. No one likes that, but they do want to hear that Luke won a 175-pound pumpkin from the grocery store, or that Josie lost her first tooth, but promptly swallowed it.
- My hubby and I share a short paragraph at the end, because aside from a few things, no one really cares how many bulbs I planted in the yard or how many fish Jared caught. But I did run my first half marathon, and that's pretty cool. I put that in.
- I like to have a closing line at the bottom, like, "Life is good here, so come and visit us soon!" Sometimes, if I have space, I insert our email addresses. I think this year I should write, "Friend me on Facebook!"
- I like to keep my letter to a size that fits on half an 8 1/2 x 11 printed sheet, so I format the page in landscape and then divide the page in two columns. This makes a nice size to insert with cards.
- If I'm feeling extra fancy, I will stamp on my letters after I print them, using a subtle background stamp of a snowflake or star. If I'm crunched for time, I skip this step and print them on green paper!
I just bought stamps today, and my letter is finished. So I should probably start licking envelopes. I think I will enlist my kids to help. I know there is a discussion of self-addressed envelopes versus printing labels. I go back and forth. What is your opinion?
Merry Christmas! Hope your holidays are merry and bright!