The holidays are the time to reconnect and get back in touch with friends and family. While phone calls, cards, letters, and emails are all good ways to wish others well, some people prefer to send out a holiday newsletter, a catch-all to get farther-flung friends and family up-to-date. An Emily Post Institute survey showed that people have mixed feelings about these newsletters: 53% like them and 47% do not. It’s a good bet that the 47% receive obnoxious brag sheets every holiday season. Here’s how to get it right:

Top Tips for Drafting Your Newsletter

  • Stick to the highlights—most people will be happy to know that you survived knee surgery and are back on the court, but they won’t want to know the details of your grueling rehab.
  • Send newsletters only to those you think will be interested.
  • Share news that’s positive and not too personal.
  • Keep your letter to one page or less.
  • A personal salutation—”Dear Karen and Phil”—is warmer than the printed “Dear friends,” and signing each letter individually personalizes it more.
  • If your newsletter is enclosed in a card, write a one- or two-sentence personal message in the card that accompanies the letter.
  • Don’t turn your letter into a brag sheet.
  • If emailing your news, send it in an attachment of 2MB or less to avoid jamming up an inbox, and don’t reveal recipients’ names in the “To” line. Keep their info private by using the “Bcc” feature.

Pride or Bragging?

It’s okay to be proud of your family member’s accomplishments, but focus on the big picture, not the nitty gritty. Here what to say—or not—when writing your holiday letter:

  • Scott was accepted at LSU. Not… Scott scored 1600 on his SATs.
  • Melissa loves competing on her horse, Star. Not… Melissa got blue ribbons at 16 out of 17 horse shows.
  • Buddy was promoted to senior vice president. Not… Buddy got a 20K raise and a company BMW.