New Twist on Holiday Tradition: Family Letters with Camtasia

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With the end of 2012 rapidly approaching, many people are tackling the daunting-yet-rewarding project of holiday cards. And if you’re like me, you will procrastinate until sending cards out to be delivered on time is nothing short of a miracle. Which is why I was inspired by Jeanette Holtman of Minneapolis, Minn. who decided to change her approach to her annual holiday tradition.

Meet the Holtmans

Nearing the end of 2011, Jeanette Holtman found herself with little time to pull together her annual holiday letter. So, she decided to forgo her annual letter, opting to create a short video with Camtasia instead.

“My family has always joked about doing a spoof letter or sending something a little different for the holidays,” said Jeanette. “Because my family is used to me taking lots of photos throughout the year, recording a video was an easy transition. We were able to have a little more fun with it too.”

With six children, Jeanette says there is a wide range of personalities in her family. Each family member was able to record a short update to their liking, adding personal touches to their parts of the video. And though her eldest son and daughter made it very clear the final video was not to go on Facebook, everyone contributed to the video.

Making a Video

The Holtmans used a webcam to record each personal update, adding footage taken on their flipcam to show what the family was up to over the holiday break. Jeanette uses Camtasia to make screencasts for work, so she pulled all the recordings into the program and sewed them all together.

“I probably spent a little more time creating the video than I did writing letters in the past,” said Jeanette. “But there was virtually no expense. Normally, I would have printed photos and color copies of the letter, paid for postage and mailed them out. On top of that, we actually got feedback for the first time.”

Jeanette uploaded the final video to YouTube and shared a private link with friends and family. She was surprised to receive responses to the video, with people reminiscing about how small the kids once were or sending their congratulations to one of the Holtmans. The response was so positive that Jeanette’s oldest children finally broke down and allowed her to share it on Facebook.

Future Plans

Jeanette plans to create similar videos with Camtasia in the future, making a point to include a theme as she has done in past letters. For those starting a new holiday letter tradition, she notes that themes help guide the process much better than asking each family member to generally summarize the past year.

With a little more planning, the 2012 Holtman Family Update will likely be even better than the last. For those inspired by Jeanette’s creativity with Camtasia: don’t forget that you can use Camtasia free for 30 days, if you don’t already have the program. It’s the perfect opportunity to see what Camtasia can do for you.

Be sure to include TechSmith on your list of family and friends. We want to see what you create! Send me an email at

Other Holiday Ideas

For more inspiration on how TechSmith products can add to your holiday traditions, be sure to take a look at some of the following:

  • Make a foolproof gift list with Snagit by collecting images and adding notes, as outlined in this tutorial.
  • Budding artists can use Screenchomp to show friends and family how to draw Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Through a crafty mix of Snagit hotspots and vintage holiday images, TechSmithie Kelly Mullins made a beautiful advent calendar. Learn more about Snagit hotspots here.