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How to Create an Engaging Family Newsletter

Michele Meleen
Family photo for newsletter

Family newsletters are a fun way to keep in touch and engage with family members near or far. In a world of rapid social media updates, sometimes it's nice to receive all the information of your family's goings-on in one place. Learning how to create an engaging family newsletter can help you keep your family connected.

Choose a Family Newsletter Format

Family newsletters can be distributed electronically via email or in print via snail mail or personal delivery. Each format has its benefits and potential drawbacks. Consider the size and location of all your family members when choosing a format, or offer both options to meet individual needs.

Electronic Family Newsletter Options

Easily distributed via email or on a website, this newsletter option is less expensive than print distribution. Recipients can read the newsletter on any device, or print it out to read, if they so desire. You can also add extra elements and moving graphics or hyperlinks to social media videos within an electronic newsletter.

Happy multi-generation family using smart phone
  • Create a newsletter using a word processing program or design tool.
  • Add your newsletter info and images directly in the body of an email.
  • Make a sharable slideshow for a longer newsletter.
  • Make a video newsletter featuring your family members.

Family Newsletter Options to Print

The advantage to print is recipients do not need to have access to a device to access the newsletter; all they need is a mailbox to receive it through the mail. This means postage and printing costs fall upon the creator and sender of the newsletter, but older relatives aren't left out if they're unwilling to use a computer to get their copy.

  • Mail newsletters in decorative, legal size envelopes so you don't have to fold them.
  • Hand deliver printed newsletters for a more personal touch.
  • Use paper craft supplies to make each newsletter by hand for small families.

Select a Family Newsletter Editor

Who in your family seems to always know what's going on with everyone else like birthday traditions, anniversaries, graduations, and is in touch with all branches of the family? Someone like this is a perfect candidate to run the family newsletter. Having one central editor ensures all the information lands in one place. The family newsletter editor will:

  • Decide what content appears in the newsletter
  • Solicit family members for updates and images
  • Create a distribution schedule (Monthly? Quarterly? On major holidays? Annually?)
  • Edit and polish the newsletter
  • Distribute the newsletter to the family

Alert the Family About Your Newsletter Ideas

Send out word that you're starting a family newsletter so they can all contribute to the content. Provide ideas for materials to submit and deadlines. You can reach out on social media, by phone, by mail, or by email. Here's a sample family newsletter announcement:

Dear Family:
I've decided to start up a family newsletter so we can better stay in touch with each other across the miles. This will be the best place to let us all know about your latest news and amazing accomplishments! I can use some help with a few things: first, please let me know how you want to receive the newsletter (in the mail or via email), second, send me a list of ideas for stuff you want featured in the newsletter (think of accomplishments, celebrations, or family history stories). Lastly, please help me spread the word far and wide to our family members about this so I can ensure everyone is included. I'm excited about this new project that will help us all stay connected!

Format Ideas for the Family Newsletter

You can either create a newsletter template that you follow from one issue to another, or you can download a template that's already created to make your job easier. Know that readers respond to consistency, so plan to use the same format every time unless it becomes apparent that you need to adjust it. Your newsletter may span one page or several; it depends largely on how big your family is and how verbose the person in charge is. Your newsletter should at least include:

  • A title (usually includes your family name)
  • A spot to list the issue number and date
  • Room for stories accompanied by one or several photos
  • Contact information for the editor

Set Up a Family Editorial Calendar

Newsletters are much easier to manage when you already know what you're doing beforehand. Once you know the distribution schedule for the newsletter, you can start planning ahead for stories. For example, if you know a baby is on the way, set room aside for a story and photo about the new arrival. If a family reunion is in the works, set aside room within the newsletter to start teasing the reunion long beforehand to get everyone excited.

Start Writing or Encouraging Writing by Family Members

Whether it's a regular column from the family matriarch or photos of coloring pages from the youngest members of the family, you're going to need help from family members to make the newsletter successful. Ask family members to contribute writing or photos to the newsletter on a regular basis, although you will likely find that as the family comes to anticipate the newsletter, they'll start sending you content unsolicited.

Smiling Asian mother and daughter with card

Ideas for Family Newsletter Topics and Content

Choosing an awesome family newsletter theme can help you curate content for the publication. If you're struggling to think of content to include within the newsletter, consider these standard sections:

  • Family recipes
  • Graduations, birthdays, job promotions, and other celebrations
  • Births, deaths, or other major family changes
  • Funny stories from the past
  • Interviews with family members
  • Genealogy research

Family Reunion Newsletters

Family reunion newsletters are slightly different from standard family newsletters because they include your larger family group and often highlight your annual family reunion event.

Steps for Creating a Fun Family Reunion Newsletter

While you can create a family reunion newsletter in advance using the same steps you'd use for making a regular family newsletter, it's a lot easier to make your publication at or after the family reunion. The newsletter can serve as a family reunion favor guests get after the party or as notice of what guests who couldn't attend might have missed.

  1. In your family reunion invitations, include a note about your desire to create a family reunion newsletter and ask family members to bring copies or send copies of historical pictures and stories.
  2. At the reunion, discuss the format for the newsletter and gather any materials family members brought.
  3. Enlist one person to serve as the official family reunion photographer, one to interview family members for fun reunion quotes, and someone to document all the activities at the reunion.
  4. After the reunion, compile all your information into a newsletter that includes news from the reunion event and family history.
  5. Keep a copy on file in your family reunion binder as written family history.

Family Reunion Newsletter Ideas

Facts about ancestors and family history or important dates from the past are staples of a family reunion newsletter, but there are lots of other things you can include too. If you're planning a family reunion, you can use your family reunion theme as the theme for your reunion newsletter.

  • Use a group photo from the most recent family reunion as your headline photo.
  • Give your newsletter a descriptive name like "82nd Annual Young Family Reunion Newsletter."
  • Include the date and location for the next reunion.
  • Include information on how to buy family reunion t-shirts for those who couldn't attend or didn't buy in advance.
  • Give names and contact information for all families included in the reunion.
  • Add a section to share what was served at the reunion along with the cook and recipe.

Family Is Fascinating News

Your family doesn't have to be packed full of adventurers to be interesting, particularly to the members within the family. Don't stress out about presenting an exciting, polished newsletter each and every time; your family just wants to stay in touch, and a newsletter offers them that opportunity.

How to Create an Engaging Family Newsletter