Let’s talk about mail: the kind with a real stamp, a return address you recognize and a message inside from someone you love. Finding it in your mailbox may not be as common as it used to be, but that’s not the only reason writing and sending cards and letters makes people feel good. So we’ve gathered up all our best reasons and advice for writing, addressing—even decorating—personal notes to the people you love.
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Everything about seeing an envelope hand-addressed to you in the mailbox says “somebody cares”: the name and address in familiar handwriting, the knowledge someone took the time to sit down and write to you and then find a stamp and send it, the fancy paper.
When you write someone a letter, you’re literally sending happiness into the world.
It’s time to freshen up that stash of cards and stationery. Clear a space on your desk. Get out the good pens and stock up on pretty stamps. Oh—and make sure those address books are up to date.
Here’s a little inspiration to get you going:
- Check your calendar for special people and occasions to start making your list. (We can help you with that with our new monthly calendar posts.)
- Check your card and stationery stash. We love these curated card assortment boxes for stocking up.
- Get ideas from Hallmark about what to write in any greeting card.
- Brush up on how to address an envelope—plus etiquette rules.
- Stamps are like tiny pieces of art—order new stamp designs from the post office.
You don’t need a big reason or special occasion to send a card or letter. Here are some tips for card and letter writing from our Hallmark writers:
- Open it up. Start with “dear” or even “dearest.” Or try “hi” or “hello” or the old-school charm of “greetings.” Add the recipient’s name and you’re off!
- Say why you’re writing. If you’re sending a greeting card that already explains it, skip this step. Otherwise, let the recipient know what got you thinking of them today. Helpful tip: Be specific, like “I heard [name of song]” or “I baked [type of cookie] with your recipe” or some other true, real-life nugget.
- Go on a bit. Add a line or two more about why you’re writing. Add a specific thought about the story, a detail about the day, a compliment or a comment. Helpful tip: Focus on the recipient and what they might want or need to hear from you.
- Reaffirm your relationship. Finish with a little reminder of why your recipient matters to you. It can be as simple as “you always make me smile,” as serious as “I care about you very much” or anywhere in between.
- Say it again. End with a quick reminder of your reason for writing. It’s kind of like a bookend…or the closing of one of those five-paragraph essays from high school.
- Finish strong. There are so many wonderful ways to close a letter. Try…
…and sign your name. That’s it!
PS: Your note doesn’t have to be long. Just sincere!
There’s enough stuff in our lives we must do—and probably not enough we get to do or love to do. What if we could get into a card-sending, letter-writing habit that falls in that last category?
Here are a few hints to help fit sending personal notes into your routine.
- Make it easy. Keep your stationery, pens and stamps accessible, especially when and where you’re most likely to write.
- Start small. Write one short note inside a greeting card—or maybe just send a postcard. See how good it feels to write, seal, stamp and send a simple note.
- You do you. Do you love ritual? Great: Make some tea, light a candle, curl up in a comfy chair and grab your favorite pen. Are you a check-the-box-and-move-on type? Maybe your stationery stash is on the counter, where you can dash off a quick note while you’re sifting through the mail. Or if you’re the consummate multitasker, carry a little portfolio and write in waiting rooms.
- Do what’s fun. What will make you look forward to mailing or delivering your note: knowing you’ve chosen the perfect card, written a wonderful letter or turned the envelope into a work of art? Any one of those will make the recipient smile—and give you something to look forward to.
We firmly believe one of the most fun parts of sending a card or letter is decorating the envelope. Why not let your pen pal know right from the start you think they’re a big deal?
Start by gathering some supplies:
- Pencils, pens and markers in a range of colors and styles. Thick and thin. Metallic, white, glitter. Brush tips, wide nibs, calligraphy.
- Stickers, seals, washi tape.
- Pencil and eraser and a ruler, compass and square.
Try some of Hallmark Artist Lynn G.’s tips (and download these free envelope-decorating tip sheets with hand-lettered fonts and designs to try):
- Make some little sketches on scratch paper before you start on the envelope to play with how the addresses and designs fit your space.
- Lightly pencil in your design on the envelope before you bring out the markers.
- Don’t forget the essentials: Name, address, city, state, zip—for both the address and return address.
Yes—we are absolutely recommending that you send a letter to yourself. Opening a message written a year—or five years or more—in the past can be moving, entertaining, even therapeutic.
Here are some ideas for messages to write just to you:
- Words of encouragement. On a day you’re feeling like you can do anything, take a minute to remind Future You how it feels or Past You how far you’ve come.
- Happy wishes. Capture your hopes and dreams to be opened on birthdays, anniversaries and other milestones.
- Good things. Write about great memories, what is making you happy right this second and what you’re looking forward to in the future.
- Big questions. When you’re wondering what the days ahead will bring, ask the questions. Let your older, wiser self answer them.
- What it’s like. Tell Future You how you spend your days, who you hang out with, what takes up space in your brain.
As silly as it seems right now, it’s easy to completely forget your notes to you exist. To make sure you open them, put them somewhere safe and remind yourself about them with an online calendar or app—or write the date or reason to open them on the envelope and keep them somewhere you can’t miss.