Round Robin Letters & Scrapbooks

By: Karen Fusco
Connecting with long distance family and friends can be a real challenge. Travel is expensive, and a good long phone chat rarely fits into our busy schedules. Most of us rely on email and the occasional digital photo attachment to stay in touch.

The latest technology may make our lives easier, but it can lead to less than satisfying experiences. We used to stay connected in much more tangible ways. It wasn't that long along ago that people wrote letters, sent photographs, and clipped interesting articles from the newspaper to pass along to loved ones. Somehow, touching a letter and holding a photograph helped us to feel closer to the ones we love.

Most of us don't have time to write to everyone on our list, much less send pictures. What if you could send one letter and one set of photos that would get to all of the most important people in your life? Round robin letters and scrapbooks are a creative solution to the time dilemma, and the idea is so creative and fun that everyone in the family will enjoy participating.

Using letter writing to illustrate the basic concept, your family would write a letter updating a group of friends or family about your own family, and then send it off to the next person on the list. The next family then reads your letter, adds their own updates and thoughts, and then passes it on to the next person on the list, and so on.

When the last person closes the letter with his or her own thoughts, the letter should be mailed back to you.

When you receive it, you can include one copy for each participant in the new letter, so that each of them has one full letter to keep. Having the old letter in hand changes the letter a bit; now you have people sending congratulations, sympathies and jokes in response to content from the first letter. This is when it really gets fun!Before you begin, it's a good idea to get the group of people you want to connect with to agree to the idea. Start by sending them a link to this article via email. Remember to keep your group small. Otherwise, the letter may take two years to find its way back to you!If you are writing letters, ask each family or person on the list to send the letter on within one or two weeks from the time they received it. This way, if you have a list of six people, you will get the completed letter back within three months!Round robin scrapbooks take this concept to different level. This idea takes a bit more time, but it is perfect for families who are looking for new ways to remain close. The idea is also fun for a group of friends who wish to reconnect; old friends from college or camp, for instance.

The scrapbook concept is the same as the round robin letter, but now you are working with photographs, newspaper clippings, even copies of your kids' artwork. Whatever is meaningful to your family, and is a visual description of the events of your life can and should be included in the scrapbook.

Determine a page limit for the scrapbook in advance, so everyone has the same chance to share memories. Extra time may be needed, so you might give everyone one month to complete two pages. If you have the same six people, you will have a new completed scrapbook twice a year!When the scrapbook is retuned to you, take it to a copy shop and have books made for each person on the list. The round robin scrapbook will surely be a cherished keepsake for many years to come.

Reconnecting with long lost friends or getting closer to your extended family does not have to be a time-intensive chore. Start a round robin letter or scrapbook this week; you'll be amazed at how fast it catches on!

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