The holiday season is the perfect time to reach out and connect with family and friends near and far. For many of us, it’s a great opportunity to hone our writing skills and create an annual letter that lets everyone know what’s transpired during the past twelve months.

Since December is usually such a busy month, the month of January can be the ideal time to reach out and touch those we don’t often see as well as send wishes for a happy and bright new year.

So, what makes a good holiday family letter enjoyable to read? And what helps a “ho-hum” letter become a great one? Primarily, a letter that’s approximately a page in length mixed with details that reconnect others to your family makes for the most meaningful and entertaining “read.” Whether you’ve never sent a letter before or want to re-energize your regular annual greeting, here are some elements to consider as you sit down to write:

First, create a warm, welcoming and festive family letter. Your letter is meant to invite people into your lives for a few brief moments. In order to be well-received, it should include highlights of your year without appearing overly boastful or dramatically downtrodden. The best letters are those that describe what has taken place in a clear and concise manner while letting people see you in an authentic, heartfelt way.

Second, allow your letter to reflect the individuality of your family membersA “family” letter can include quotes or a short paragraph from each family member along with photos that reflect the personality and spirit of each person.

Third, do something creative with your letter. Rather than simply writing a narrative of the past twelve months’ activities, feel free to create an interactive read. One idea is to create a matching game by listing highlights of your year and then have your readership draw lines to the appropriate family member’s photo. Your readers get to catch up on your lives while connecting with each person in an entertaining way. Another enjoyable way to present your family’s year is by using a Top 10 list. For instance, your top 10 could be “Our Top 10 Events of 2019” or “Our Top 10 Reasons for Sending this Letter in 2020” or even “Our Top 10 Lessons for 2019.” Each member can contribute items to the top 10 list. Be sure to rank and list them from 10 to 1 so that number 1 comes last and is the highlight of your year.

Overall, make sure your letter passes on special holiday greetings and gives people your family’s contact information so others feel “permitted” to reach out to you. Remember, the most significant meaning of an annual letter is to connect, so be sure your letter reflects that this is meant to be a two-way communication tool.

Happy writing!