Start Spreading the News
9/24/2012
Reconnect with your family and friends by sending an informative, engaging family newsletter—these tips will show you how.
Creating a family newsletter (instead of sending out the usual ho-hum holiday cards) can be a fun way to stay in touch with your friends and far-flung family. In one friendly missive, you can share photos and news of what your clan's been up to, and deliver reports of your latest family history finds. You can even make it an activity for the whole family to help out with. We'll walk you through all the steps to creating a successful newsletter -- all you need to spread the news is a computer with word-processing software.

Set the stage

Giving your newsletter a catchy title tells people what it's all about and makes them excited to read it. The name can be as simple as "The Smiths' Yearender" or "The Martin Message," or you can get creative. A professor I know calls his newsletter the Crismas Log -- his name is Crispin Maslog, and he sends out the newsletter around Christmastime. My family wanted to convey the idea that we're like migratory birds, moving all the time, so we named ours The Nestletter with the subtitle "The annual newsletter of the Onas."

Decide on the focus of your newsletter. Some newsletters cover just one nuclear family, or you could collect news items from a whole branch of your family. Broadening your scope will make your newsletter meatier, but you may have to pester extended family members to make sure they send in their contributions on time.

What should go in a newsletter? All the big events are no-brainers: engagements, weddings, babies, vacations, trips abroad, career changes, big anniversaries, household moves. You should also include individual achievements, such as Tony Jr. making the high school honor roll or Cousin Trisha receiving a 10-year anniversary plaque from her company. Along with "articles" on big events, you can add lists of birthdays and anniversaries, or spice up the contents with the your favorite pictures, captions, drawings, prayers or quotes from the year.