We’ve all heard the expression “necessity is the mother of invention,” and as the days before Christmas begin to dwindle down, this mother needed to think of an invention that would bring in some extra money for holiday presents.
As of late, there hasn’t been much writing work coming my way, so I went online and typed in “quick ways to make Christmas money.” The typical answers of ‘take on a part time job!’ or ‘have a garage sale!’ popped up, but those held little interest for me. But one idea did surface– something I knew I could definitely do that would allow me to use my writing skills.
The answer to my dilemma came in the form of “How to Make Money Writing Santa Letters.” This intrigued me, so I did a bit more research as to how I could take this idea and make it my own. There were sites that gave information on how to write the letters and what should be included. I was excited about this, but a bit reluctant to go forth, especially since I was venturing into this on my own, without a web site or extra dollars to use for advertising. But thank goodness for email and my rather extensive address book. I figured that grass roots advertising worked just as well.
I first contacted several women in my town, and they were kind enough to not only purchase letters for their children, but they also forwarded my information on to others. The phones calls and email began to trickle in slowly, but as the days passed, more calls were coming in. In fact, there was a day when I was talking on the phone to someone who wanted a letter and my call waiting beeped through with yet another parent wanting letters.
I currently have about 40 letters waiting to be sent out, mostly to children in California, near where I live, but also to kids in Texas and Florida. Besides email, I also printed up fliers and passed them around at my son’s elementary school.
As for the letters themselves, I send a questionnaire to the parents that asks for information about their children – nothing too personal – just about friends, school, teachers, pets, hobbies and different activities. If parents have a specific request about being good for Grandma or keeping his or her room clean, I add that in. One mom wanted Santa to address her daughter’s weight problem, and to empathize with the fact that it’s very hard to eat healthy foods all the time. At the end of the girl’s letter I added, “So leave the apples and carrots for me and leave the cookies for Rudolph!”
I definitely have to “Santa-ize” the letters with a few well-placed ho, ho, ho’s and a mention or two about the elves and the workshop. It took a while to get into the swing of things, but now I have two or three templates that I use, especially necessary if multiple letters are being sent to the same household to different kids.
One of the perks I’m adding is that I’m sending the letters up to North Pole, Alaska, for a cancellation mark. Once again, the Internet came to my rescue with information on how to do that. I’m charging $9 per package, which includes a letter printed on Christmas type paper and a ‘ Good List’ certificate with the child’s name on it, signed by Old St. Nick. Although I love writing for magazines and newspapers, this venture has allowed me to be a bit more creative so I can try my hand at a little bit of creative writing. The parents are so excited about this, and they can’t wait to see their children’s faces when they open the letters. I’m anxious to hear about their reactions, too! Ho, ho, hoóMerry Christmas.
Julie Engelhardt is a freelance writer based in Hollister, California. She has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years, writing primarily for regional magazines and local newspapers. And even though she’s in her mid-40’s, she still believes in the magic of Santa Claus! You can contact Julie at: Jengelha – at – aol.com