You know what a wonderful difference receiving just one card can make. Imagine what a “card shower”—piles of greeting cards filling someone’s mailbox—could do. Find out how to bring friends and family together to make someone’s day.
In these uncertain times, many of us are feeling unsettled, adjusting to new behaviors and redefining “togetherness.” Sometimes that means connecting online. Sometimes that means phone calls and texts. And sometimes that means finding creative, meaningful ways to show someone how much they mean…like a card shower.
This post is part of our Caring and Creating during Tough Times series.
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A card shower is an organized plan to send a bunch of cards from a lot of people to one person (or family or organization) for a specific reason or occasion. And it’s easy to do.
Hosting a card shower simply means asking many different people to send cards to one person to celebrate, encourage, comfort, or thank them. Card showers are perfect for:
- Birthdays (especially milestones)
- Personal milestones
- Health care journeys
This allows a group of people from all over to “shower” someone special with a mailbox full of well wishes, gratitude, encouragement or support. It only takes a little work to get one rolling, and only asks a little effort from people who want to participate, but the impact on someone can be huge. Remember “when we each do a little, we all do a lot.”
Pro tip: You don’t have to wait for the calendar to give you reason. Receiving cards out of the blue or ones that express appreciation can make them even more meaningful. Try organizing a card shower with friends or family “just because.” For example, kids could band together with parents, cousins, aunts and uncles to throw a card shower for their grandparents. Or a neighborhood could send cards to a favorite locally owned business to thank them for years of service. Or a classroom could let a teacher know how much they appreciate them.
Step one: Decide the recipient, occasion, address and date
Usually, this is the easiest part. Decide who you’re going to shower, where to send the cards and when they should be mailed.
- Name and occasion: As the host, you’ll let participants know why they’re sending cards. Is it for the family matriarch’s 90th birthday? A popular teacher’s retirement? A friend’s final chemo treatment?
- Address: If you’re sure your “guest of honor” will be OK with your participants knowing their home address, great. If not, you can ask their partner or a close family member for permission to share. If you’re mailing to a school or retirement home, check with their office to see how the mail should be addressed; they can also hold mail that arrives early until the right delivery date. You can also ask people to mail the cards to you, so you can deliver or mail them all at once.
- Date: USPS typically delivers first-class mail within one to three business days, but it can take up to a week. Give participants enough time to find a card, write the perfect message and get it in the mail to arrive on time.
Pro tip: The beauty of a card shower is that everyone involved can participate on their own time frame. But for a big impact, it’s fun for the person receiving the cards to get many of them at once—or at least somewhat close together. Set a deadline or a window of time for participants to send their card.
Step two: Gather your ‘showerers’
Invite as many people as you can to participate to ensure lots of cards will arrive in your recipient’s mailbox. Group emails, texts and social media make it easy to get the word out.
Here are some sample messages you can edit and send:
Let’s shower Grandma with cards for her 90th birthday on April 4! It’s easy—all you have to do is find and sign a card and drop it in the mail between March 25 and March 29. Send all the cards to: (address)
Ms. Patterson is retiring from Jefferson High School at the end of the 2021 school year. Let’s make sure she knows how much she meant to us all by showering her with a giant pile of cards and letters. Here’s how it will work:
1. Write a card or letter and include a special memory, a way she inspired you or a lesson that stuck with you.
2. Mail it to me at (address) by May 1, 2021.
3. I’ll tie the giant stack of cards up with a bow and deliver them to her retirement party on May 20.
4. If you can’t attend the retirement party, we’ll be sure to send you a picture of the look on her face when she sees all the love you’ve sent!
Friends of Kevin know what a tough time he’s had this month. With a card shower, let’s let him know we care, we’re thinking of him and we’ve got his back. To participate, just send a greeting between the 15th and the 31st to: (address). It can be encouraging, funny, inspiring or supportive—what matters most is that he’ll know how many people are here for him!
Pro tip: If you invite participants to your card shower far in advance, you might send gentle reminders as you get closer to the shower date.
Step three: Send your card
You send your card, your fellow showerers send theirs, and that’s it!
If you want to follow up, you can send a thank-you message to the participants. Or better yet, if you can, take a photo of the recipient surrounded by cards.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the occasion to give showerers creative ideas to add to their cards. For example:
- Suggest adding a picture of participants with the recipient.
- For milestone birthdays, choose a number of participants equal to the age. Assign them each a number and ask them to include an index card with that number and a thing they love about the recipient.
- For teachers and leaders, encourage participants to write a frequently used saying or something they learned from the recipient.
- For someone in hospice or facing a difficult time, ask showerers to write about a special memory or a way the recipient touched their lives.
Whether it’s a time of need or a time to celebrate, card showers allow you to be there even when you can’t actually be there. Cards and letters give recipients lasting, tangible, meaningful mementos of the friends, family members and other supporters and how much they care.