Looking for a simple and unique way to wish your friends and family "Happy Holidays" this season? Steal this incredibly easy digital Christmas Letter idea to share with your friends and family on Facebook! Thanks to Animoto for sponsoring today's post.
One of my favorite—absolute favorite—aspects of the holiday season is opening and reading Christmas Letters from friends and family. I smile at the family photos. I gush as I read through all the fun personal, professional (and even PET) updates, accomplishments, and recaps of the previous year. I so appreciate the thought and creativity that goes into creating them...
- The writing style
- The paper choice
- The format (either printed from a computer or handwritten and photocopied)
So, last year, my heart absolutely SANK when I opened a holiday card from The Mitchell Family and there was NO LETTER inside. I quickly popped over to Facebook and sent an IM, "No Holiday Letter this year?" My friend Melissa explained that her husband (who writes it—How cool is that?!!) felt it had become redundant because our lives are so transparent on social media these days. In other words:
There is little to tell in a year-end Holiday Letter that isn't already on Facebook, so what's the point of doing one?
Well, here's my response to that...
It's hard to keep up with a family as a whole on Facebook.
We're constantly getting small fragments of jumbled information delivered to us through our Facebook feeds. Sometimes piecing all those small tidbits together for each family can be overwhelming.
And while I do love getting in-the-moment updates online, what I love about a special Holiday Letter is getting a cohesive "This is what our family has been up to this year" look into my friends' lives. I love reading how they see all the puzzle pieces (the events, the photos, the joys and sorrows) come together.
Every year, I see more and more families skipping traditional print holiday cards (and letters!) and moving toward digital alternatives.
I get it. Print cards can be expensive and time-consuming, and the deadline can be stressful—especially when you're trying to balance 101 other holiday commitments. I, myself, have been looking for an in-between happy solution for a while now.
Something a little bit more than just a "Happy Holidays" note on Facebook, but still simple and cost-effective.
This fall, a good friend introduced me to this awesome site for making professional-looking videos—easily. I mean, draw-droppingly beautiful videos that are truly SIMPLE to create and make your family photos SHINE.
When I signed up for a trial account with Animoto, one of the first things that came to mind was using the site to create a photo-filled Christmas Letter for our family. I kept thinking to myself, THIS IS IT... An awesome, creative, and cost-efficient way (The trial account is FREE!) to make a unique digital Holiday Letter to share on Facebook with friends and family.
Once I logged in through my trial account, I started to play around a bit. Within 30 minutes—no lie—I had created this adorable digital Christmas Letter.
Here's the thing about the 30 minutes it took me to make that digital Holiday Letter, folks... Finding the pics I wanted to use took me 20 minutes. Whipping the video together took me 10. (For real. It's that simple to do.)
I wanted our family Christmas Letter to have more of a classic "feel," so I hunted online a bit and found this super-handy formula to use:
3 highlights for each of the KIDS + 3 things your family did TOGETHER = AWESOME HOLIDAY LETTER
Isn't that a cute, easy way to do it?!?
How to Make a Digital Holiday Letter (That You Can Share on Facebook)
The process for making a video with Animoto is as easy as 1-2-3.
- Pick a video style.
- Upload a few photos from your computer or phone.
- Select Preview.
It's literally THAT SIMPLE.
Quick tip: If you want to see a more detailed look at each of the aforementioned steps for creating videos, you can check out the full tutorial right here on Animoto’s site.
Once you’ve created your first on-the-fly video with your FREE trial account, take a moment to look around at all the different video styles available. Animoto has quite a few cute holiday styles in their collection.
When you're in your FREE trial account, you can literally jump between different video styles with a click of the mouse. I wanted to show you how much the style and music can change the feel of your Holiday Letter, so I created a couple of variations of the same video.
I thought this holiday "Wrapping Scraps" style was fun and playful. And I love all the movement.
Isn't it crazy how different the video turns out even though all the text and photos are the same!?!
Honestly, you've got to stop here and take a moment to check out the Animoto website. I'll wait. Also, just a quick FYI… It does *not* require a credit card (or any financial commitment) to sign up for a FREE trial account. The only real caveat is that the videos created during the free trial will be watermarked.
In the end, my favorite Animoto video style ended up being "Memory Box." Take a moment to preview it below.
I love how this Christmas Letter video looks like a digital scrapbook. (The photos are layered and intermingled throughout the video on top of one another.) I liked the playful variation of Deck the Halls from the "Wrapping Scraps" video example above, so I changed the music on the "Memory Box" video below to that song to add some holiday flair.
I'm just loving playing with the site and all the different video styles and background tunes. It's ridiculous how easy it is to use these features to make the same video take on a whole new flavor.
There are other fun ways you can customize your video, too... You can do simple things like adding photo captions, changing the photo order, designating featured images, and more, if you wish.
Once your digital Holiday Letter is finished, you can upload your video directly to Facebook (or YouTube, etc.) right from within Animoto to share it with your friends and family.
No online ordering.
No running to the store.
No addressing envelopes.
No postage to buy.
This is easy-peasy, folks.
I hope you find your FREE trial of Animoto and the thought of using it to create a custom, digital Holiday Letter as inspiring as I did.
With all the time you just saved yourself, now you'll have even more time to...
Celebrate the season. Celebrate love.
P.S. If you think you might be interested in using Animoto to create a digital Holiday Letter this year, I’d love for you to join me in the private Animoto Video Storytellers group on Facebook. Here’s a little info about the free group:
What is Animoto Video Storytellers? The Animoto Video Storytellers group was designed to inspire and motivate you to share your life through video. Our Facebook Group provides a community where we can support one another by sharing videos, ideas, and stories.
Why should I join? If you love sharing your family, your life, or your interests (or if you want to preserve your memories using video), this group can help you craft your ideas into visual stories that can be shared and saved for years to come. We’re here to help you and support you as you create your videos. You’ll also be inspired by other Animoto users as you craft your own videos.
In other words, it’s a great place to be inspired and ask questions while working on your Holiday Letter. You’re welcome to join the group if you’re using the free trial version, too.
Come hang out with us.
If you have ANY questions, let’s chat in the comments below or in the group on Facebook. Again, a BIG THANK-YOU to Animoto for sponsoring today’s post. Be sure to follow them online for more creative inspiration: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram
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Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”