Communication today, it seems, is mostly digital. You fire off emails to your supervisor, you send text messages to your siblings and friends and you peruse blogs and social media platforms after work hours. While it is great that the world’s digital transformation is making it easier to get work done, we are losing a bit of our sense of humanity and social connectedness in the process. Nothing is as gracious or thoughtful as the written word and emails and text messages are far more disposable, temporary and impersonal.
If you had to guess, when would you say was the last time that you sent a friend or a relative a letter or a thank you card? I send out Christmas cards to my family members annually, but that is the only mass mailing I send out every year. I may send my mother a “Thinking of You” card every now and then, but I am not consistent with my mailings to her. And I cannot remember the last time I sent a handwritten note to anyone.
While no computer screen can make up for all of the visceral components of personal, face-to-face interactions, there are ways to show relatives and friends that you care about them. You can send personalized letters, cards and thank-you notes. Letters mean such a great deal to the people who receive them, which is why it is important to remind your love ones that you care about them. I spent a great deal of time this summer memorizing helpful pointers from Marjabelle Young Stewart’s etiquette book “Commonsense Etiquette,” a book that explores ways to behave with courtesy and style. Is there anything more ladylike than basic etiquette? After reading the text, I followed Stewart’s advice and sought out personal stationery. She recommends that readers keep on hand the following materials:
Formal Writing Paper
This paper is used to respond to formal invitations and write condolence letters. This paper should be plain white or cream of fine heavy stock. Remember that formal paper has a fold on the left side, giving it a fold that measures about 5.5 by 7.75 inches.
Everyday Writing Paper
Everyday writing paper is paper used for writing letters to friends, thank-you notes, letters of congratulation and condolence (use gray writing paper for condolence letters). These letters can be monogrammed or personalized with the letter-writer’s name and address.
Correspondence cards measure 3.5 X 5.75 inches and are used for quick short notes.
Blank Decorated Cards
These are decorated store-bought cards that allow you to write your own greetings. Do not use decorated cards with preprinted messages―you want to send a personalized, classy and thoughtful message to your contacts. Sorry Hallmark!
You should send personalized notes and letters to your contacts throughout the year. Additionally, Stewart argues that there are situations in which it is rude not to write a thank you note, including:
- Letter of acceptance or regret to a formal invitation
- Thank you for a wedding present
- Thank you for spending the night in someone’s home
- Thank you note to someone who has done you a special favor
- Note of congratulations to an important event, accomplishment or honor in a friend’s life
- Thank you for presents not opened in the giver’s presence
- Letter of condolence to a friend on the death of an immediate family member
Not sure of what to say in your note? Here are a two sample notes:
Thank you for the lovely evening spent at your dinner party on Monday. The night could not have been organized better, from the lively conversation to the delicious food you prepared. We’re still talking about the luscious red devil cake. Thank you so much for inviting us.
I just learned of the death of your mother. I’ve heard you speak of her warmly and I know how much she meant to you and your brothers and sisters. I just wanted you to know that you have my deepest sympathy. If there is anything at all that I can do for you at, please call me and I’ll come right over.