Holiday Newsletters: Tacky or Practical?

With personalized hadwritten holiday cards headed the way of the telegram, many families turn to the one-size-fits-all holiday newsletter to update friends and family on the year's events.

But are these annual newsletters a pratical solution to time-intensive holiday card-writing ar a tacky, impersonal shortcut? "I don't think it's tacky," says Cleveland etiquette consultant Holloway. "But it can become a bragging thing; that's why some people get annoyed with them."

To do it right, Holloway suggests keeping them brief, hitting only the highlights of your year. Write a first draft, then put it away and reread it before sending it out. “You don’t want to lose your audience, because the next year they’ll just throw it out before reading it,” she says. “When you have a dozen of them to read, it can get overwhelming.”

Send a photo card along too, to provide a visual accompaniment to your family update; these are things people often keep from year to year, says Holloway.

To restore some of that personal touch, create a holiday phone list. “I’ve started making phone calls around the holidays to people we haven’t talked to in a while,” she says. “The negative of technology is that we don’t talk to one another as much, so people really notice and appreciate it when you call.”

Ease up on your holiday stress by sending cards at different times, like a Thanksgiving card or a New Year’s card. “It’s a new twist, something that makes your card stand out,” says Holloway.

Just don’t send an e-mail card. “It’s so impersonal,” she says. “People can tell when you just [blind carbon copy] everyone to make it look personal — and it’s not.”

How To: 3 Easy Decorating Ideas
Diana Kresnye calls it “MacGyver decorating” — using easy-to-find household items to create fabulous home décor looks. And there’s never a better time to use this technique than during the time-crunched holidays, says Kresnye, owner of Devine Designs in Chesterland. Here are just a few of her MacGyver-inspired projects:

Holiday Pillows: Love the look of holiday throw pillows but hate to store them the rest of the year? Use holiday-themed fabric napkins and double-sided tape to recover your existing throw pillows during the season. Come January, all you have to store for next year are a handful of folded napkins.

<< Game Greetings: Use that Scrabble game that’s usually stored in the closet to create a customized holiday-greeting centerpiece. Place the Scrabble tile holders in a holiday bowl or platter surrounded by Christmas potpourri, ornaments or greenery and spell out “Seasons Greetings” or even a personalized message like “Welcome Smiths.”

Wall Wrap: While rotating your hanging art seasonally is ideal, few of us have art for all seasons. That’s why Hudson recommends that homeowners wrap those summery prints of landscapes and flowers in holiday paper and put them back on the wall. Choose wrapping papers that coordinate with your décor and finish with bows or other embellishments.

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