It takes the form of a floor-length onesie built for four, which the Chalmers family of Rochester, Minnesota, is climbing into this festive season in a bid to pioneer a unique new form of year-end newsletter.
It may also be the world’s largest newsletter, with a surface area of nearly 50 sq. ft.
Diane and Greg Chalmers and their sons, Garron, 13, and Keenan, 10, plan to model their newsletter during family visits over the holidays. Their one-piece, wearable newsletter is, they feel, the perfect way to show seasonal togetherness, while delivering the year’s family news in a distinctive new format.
Diane, 39, and Greg, 41, have been sending a holiday season newsletter to family and friends for about 15 years. It provides the usual year-end update of family happenings at home, work, school and on vacation.
They therefore printed this year’s newsletter on fabric using Spoonflower. They picked a stretchy, polyester fabric that allows some forgiveness in sizing.
A seamstress then turned the fabric into an outfit – a giant, floor-length garment designed to fit the whole family, complete with holes for each of their heads but a total of only two sleeves. “It’s not super comfortable,” concedes Diane, “but it’s festive and fun.”
“This is a small step for a family but a giant leap for family newsletters,” says Stephen Fraser, co-founder of Spoonflower. “Wearable technology is old news; wearable newsletters are the next big thing.”
Trend Alert: Technology is helping newsletters get more creative
Indeed, the Chalmers family are not the only ones who will be sporting one this holiday season. Joe Wright, an employee of Spoonflower, as well as an artist and serial writer of year-end newsletters, is also wearing his this year in the form of a floor-length robe or “snugzee”. He has even made a matching one for his cat Lucy, the first known example of a newsletter custom-made for a cat.
Meanwhile, Doug Hughes of Santa Clara, California, previously known as the author of the world’s longest Christmas newsletter, in the form of a 160-page book, has now produced the world’s widest, by using Spoonflower to print this year’s newsletter on six-foot roll of gift-wrap. He is using it to wrap a Christmas greeting card printed on fabric as a tea-towel.
A growing number of people are now also producing video newsletters. The most striking recent example was a rap video newsletter called “Xmas Jammies”, produced two years ago by the Holderness family of Raleigh, North Carolina. It went viral and by now has over 16 million views on YouTube.
The Chalmers family newsletter itself carries news of everything from the children’s progress on their musical instruments to Grandpa George’s 70th birthday and the family vacation to North Carolina, where the boys saw the ocean for the first time.
Those close family members, meanwhile, whom the Chalmers are unable to visit personally will instead be receiving the same news but printed on a tea towel, also via Spoonflower.
Greg is the only full-time clown in the family, Diane has a day job as a project manager in IT. But the whole family performs regularly together as a clown troupe known as Giggle Givers. They entertain at children’s parties, school events, churches, parades and company picnics.
The first time that they performed as a family was over eight years ago when Garron was five and Keenan two. “Keenan fell asleep in a
wagon off-stage before our skit started; so, we just pulled it on stage with us,” says Diane. "He woke up at the end of our performance, sat up, and looked at the audience, who went wild with applause."
“Like Giggle Givers”, says Diane, “we hope that our wearable newsletter will make people laugh, while the tea-towel version will be a great way of remembering 2015.”