Monday, November 26, 2007

12 tips to stay in touch with friends and family.

My grandfather, the cowboy by KateMonkey

During the holidays I always think of friends and family that are far away. It brings to mind the miles between us and the lack of time we have to keep each other abreast of what is going on in our lives. This year I am making a list to stay in touch and better connected to those I love. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Email. Don’t just forward a funny email or joke. Although these are great, a short, typed note about what is going on in your life will have much more impact and generally result in a better response.
  2. Greeting card. These are fun to send for no reason at all. Send them on the more unusual holidays like 4th of July, Halloween, or National Friendship Week. Everyone likes cheerful greetings instead of another dreaded bill.
  3. Telephone. Use your time wisely. The cell phone is available all the time. Try to call one far-away family member or friend each month. Rotate as needed. Or set aside one night a week to make as many calls as you can in an hour. Even a 15 minute chat is fun. Don’t put it off.
  4. Time differences. Many of us have family around the country or around the world. Take a minute and set up your own personal World Clock. This will let you add areas where family members live and you can easily check the time with a mouse click. Definitely makes keeping in touch easier.
  5. Pictures. If you have children or get yearly family photos, don’t forget to send them to everyone. Many times people will not ask for the pictures because they think you don’t have enough to go around. If you have leftovers, make a list of people you think would enjoy them. It’s always fun to watch families grow.
  6. Digital cameras. If you take lots of pictures at home, on the road, or of the kids; share them with friends and family. Email your favorite five, or send Grandma pictures of the kids opening her presents. It gives a bigger impression than just words and makes people feel like they were there.
  7. Cartoons and jokes. Everyone likes something that makes them laugh. If you see a cartoon or joke that makes you think of a particular family member or friend, cut it out and send it to them. Keep a manila envelope to store them until you’re ready to send. It’s a great way to let someone know you’re thinking of them.
  8. Movies. Do you know a mom who is too busy to find the time to shop for herself? Do you know a friend who loves horror movies or comedies? Purchase a movie and surprise them by mail. Or send them a home movie of the family saying hello. You can easily make copies for everyone.
  9. Calendars. Make sure you have a nice big calendar where you can see it every day. Write down a month or two ahead of time when to call someone, or a birthday reminder. Use your computer to remind you too. Take one day a month to write down your “person of the month” so you don’t forget.
  10. Newsletter. Involve the whole family and write your own monthly or bi-monthly newsletter. It will help you communicate the most important events, and friends and family alike will enjoy it. There are great templates available, just write and go.
  11. Flowers. Send a bouquet for a special occasion. They make a great Christmas gift, for birthdays, Mother’s Day and more. Try for a great fresh floral arrangement you buy online. Flowers definitely say I love you.
  12. Flash drive fun. If you’re family or friends are more computer inclined, send a flash drive full of information. You can add your favorite pictures, jokes, letters and more. Let one person keep it for a month, then send it back.

The great thing is the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Take a short movie of your snow day up north and send it to your friends in the south. Use a tape recorder to put your voice to tape and sing them a birthday song. Bring along a picture of your mom when you vacation and take a picture of you holding her picture to let her know you wish she was there. Be creative, be inventive. Above all, have fun.

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