Skip to content

Introducing Our Annual Newsletter

    We have never once managed to get out a family holiday card, so why would I think we could do a full-on four panel roll brochure newsletter??

    Well, I’m nuts. But When our daughter was born at the end of 2021, I felt a satisfying sense of completion family-wise, and I really wanted to start a tradition of sending an annual update to friends and family. And because I’m me, a simple holiday greeting from one of those awesome websites like minted wasn’t going to cut it.

    My good friend and fellow designer Molly McCoy sends an amazing holiday card every year that plays with unexpected cuts to create surprising shapes. She introduced me to the Fold factory’s fold of the week and watching their weekly videos highlighting creative print design is one of my joys.

    And so I spent much of 2022 plotting this newsletter format. i wanted it to be fun, unique, and, most importantly, easy to update. I know me and I love a good project, but the best projects are repeatable and build on previous creative feats.

    an early brainstorm had a whole comic about our three cats. Maybe next year!

    I wanted to create something that was about the same size of a holiday card (4″ x 6″) when folded. I decided on a roll brochure that folds into itself with the mailing addresses on one side so we wouldn’t need an envelope. I decided that I needed four panels to accomplish what I wanted to.

    Now, a 4″x6″ four panel brochure is not a standard size and custom print jobs are way more expensive. To keep costs down, I chose to use a standard size brochure (in this case, 9″ x 16″ or 9″ x 4″ folded) that we cut in-house to size. That also gave me the freedom to make it a fun shape: One cut on the diagonal gives the inside a fun zig-zag all the way down the right side.

    Style-wise, I built upon the comic-book style format that we employed for the baby announcements that we created for our two kids. I had hoped we could tell the story of our year in a few panels, but that wasn’t in the cards. Between Will and me, we have hundreds of photos and as many memorable moments. There was no way we we were going to boil that down into four or eight panels in less than, I don’t know, 80 hours? We don’t have time for that! We have two kids!

    While I really enjoyed thinking through the details of the project, the actual execution was a hell of a slog. I had planned to farm it out to a graphic designer, but I found the prospect of describing what I had sketched over and over again and providing the required photos and text far more daunting than just figuring it out myself in Photoshop. Now, I never use photoshop these days. In fact, I have never been actually educated in how to use photoshop. And it changes all the damn time! Every time I pick it up, it’s utterly painful to reacquaint myself with the ins and outs of how it works. And this was no exception.

    It took at least fifteen print outs to get the flow of the roll fold down.

    it took forever. And not just the overall design. Picking a favorite photo of each of our kids took forever. Deciding on what to say about each person took forever. I hadn’t really thought through how long a project like this would take, and it’s lucky I didn’t or else I probably would have abandoned the idea before getting started!

    that said — I am thrilled with how it turned out and I am cautiously optimistic that the resulting piece will be easy to update. Next year, I plan to update the background photo, the overall color scheme, the photos and the text. Ok, ok, no small feat, but The layout will remain basically the same. The plan is to have it to the printer by boxing day next year! (Fingers crossed!)

    My favorite part is the “Who Wore it better?” panel. I just love my kids (SURPRISE!) and it’s such fun to put them in the same or similar outfits and compare the photos. Now that I know it’s a feature of the newsletter, It will be easy to categorize potential photos for inclusion throughout the year rather than going through years of photos on an endless treasure hunt like we did this year.

    what do you think of the newsletter? is it a successful piece? I’d love to hear.


    12 thoughts on “Introducing Our Annual Newsletter”

    1. What fun! Your kids are both so amazingly cute. I wish I had taken one video/day when my son was young. Wondering if you ever cheated and used two videos from one great day. Can’t wait til next year. Thanks for including me. xo

      1. Dusky, the truth is that practically every video is from the weekends. I absolutely cheat all the time. If you see a lot of videos of cats or the garden, that’s because I had nothing to put in so it’s all filler! While I imagine it would be amazing to *actually* take a video each and every day, I am 100% good with this being an approximation of that. The overall effect is the same — you can see the kids growing up. They don’t change *that* much in a week or two! So glad you enjoy it. xo!

      1. Sorry to hear you have long covid, Corrie! I feel like everything is always on its own timeline no matter what your brain wants. Feel better soon!! Xoxo!

    2. I love it!! I look forward to getting one every year– keeping up with the status of you children’s teeth, noting who wore those outfits better– what a wonderful way to keep in touch! I’m sending you a family holiday card– not as fun as yours but I hope you enjoy it anyway. If Quinn wants more hole punch dot let me know– I can save tons! Thanks for the laughs and keeping in touch!

      1. Sue, Quinn is hoping to fill a bathtub with hole punch dots, so I’m sure he would love the help. I, however, am hoping to discourage this particular project because there are little paper holes EVERYWHERE. Thanks for the offer, though, and for the card! See you next time Christy is in town, I hope!

    3. Thank you for the card! It’s incredibly creative and impressive. I just emailed Will a copy of our very simple card for 2022. One issue I did have with your card though was standing it up among my holiday gallery. The roll doesn’t really lend itself to standing, though I figured out a way to tape it so I can look at just the family photo.

    4. I enjoyed reading about the newsletter process, and the result is the best annual newsletter ever. I would like to enjoy more of the offerings on the heller robys website, but I do not know how to get a password.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *