For a few years now I’ve been sending out a holiday letter to friends and family in December. In 2015 my letter was half-paged, typed, and double-sided. The next year I made a one-page (single-sided) letter, but abandoned the keyboard and wrote it by hand with pen. Last year I made a handwritten letter again, but it ended up being four pages long!
I definitely wanted to handwrite my letter again this year, as I love the look and enjoy the process. After some mind maps and scribbles in my everything-journal near the end of November, I sat down one day in December and used post-its to try out different elements.
I’d been toying around with the idea of including a map in this year’s letter, too, so I was excited to find I still had—in my bedroom at home—a pad of paper which was a map of the USA, gifted to me by my grandparents on a single-digit birthday waaay back when. I ripped off a piece and did a rough sketch to see what I wanted to include and how much space it would take up on a page.
Whereas in previous years I drew each element exactly where it would be on the final letter, this year I decided to do some cutting and gluing. This way, I could play around with different arrangements and also wouldn’t ruin the whole piece if I majorly screwed up on a drawing and wanted to re-do it. (Luckily that didn’t happen—everything in my final letter was only written in pen once! I did have a more noticeable mess-up on the trekking poles on page three, but didn’t try to fix it before photocopying.)
So I began with some drawings on regular old printer paper. I’d look up a picture online or put the item in front of me for reference, outline with pencil first, and then draw over it in pen.
When I had all my images drawn, I cut them out and moved them into different arrangements on an 8.5×11″ piece of paper.
When I was happy with the layout, I glued them down and then added written comments in pen. Here’s what the final first page looks like—at a blurry distance! (Blurring is intentional.)
I was sucked into this activity all day, so much so that I forgot to eat lunch. That never happens. Ever! I always thought it was crazy and unthinkable when I’d hear people say that they were so busy they forgot to eat. Well, I was in such a state of flow that it happened to me.
I definitely took note of this, as well as how much fun I had making this year’s letter. There’s something about handwriting and photocopies that I love.
My 2016 and 2017 letters are also available for download—together as a package:
For both of these you name your own fair price. Don’t overthink it—if it feels good, go for it!
Do you make or send out holiday cards/letters? What sorts of formats have you tried?