Personal mail allows us to share a range of emotions with an eloquence that can only come when we have the opportunity to choose our words with grace, a natural act of writing. In Part 1 (here), we reviewed the five general types of personal mail. Today, we shall cover how to master the art.
Set a Schedule
Perhaps the most common reason for not sending personal mail, despite a desire to do so, is a perceived lack of time. If you can send a note as the moment strikes you, by all means do so, but many of us simply may not have the time to send a note immediately. In that case, make a list each week of any notes that you want to send, and set aside a time for you to write them. Perhaps you will enjoy composing notes on Sunday mornings with coffee, perhaps you will find your favorite time is late at night, or perhaps you will write while children are napping. Whatever your time may be, you will find that there is joy in sharing kindness with others.
Identify the Medium
Much debate occurs over how a note should be delivered and if one format holds more value than another. Of course, handwritten personal mail is most always welcome, yet it is far better to send an electronic message than never to send a message at all. The focus should be on the personal, however it comes to pass. Let us all remember this truth from Voltaire: “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Select your medium based on the situation and the time that you can commit to your message, and know that all personal sentiments are appreciated.
Develop a Collection
As with anything, a bit of planning goes a long way. You might think that you need a full array of cards designed for every occasion in order to be prepared, but theme cards have somewhat taken away from the practice of writing notes to each other. We have become so concerned about having the “right” card that often we neglect to send any card at all! In truth, you simply need a card or a sheet of paper on which to write. You may elect to order personalized cards, yet you should never feel a need to be extravagant. A box of pretty cards from any letter shop will be more than adequate to start. For a few celebratory events (eg, birthdays), a specific card can add to your message, so it can be wise to collect a few rather than have to shop for each & every separate event. By being prepared, you are sure to send notes promptly & with joy.
Of course, any discussion of planning would be remiss without a mention of stamps. Many countries around the world, including America, now have a forever stamp, meaning you can collect them without concern of expiration. Whenever you visit the post office, simply pick up a book (or several) of stamps. If you have an aversion to the post office, you can also buy stamps online, and for anyone who wants to show personality with postage, you can develop custom stamps.
Make It Personal
The difference between a perfunctory note and a personal message is truly in the details. In order for personal mail to allow us to become closer to the people in our lives, we need to share specific personal commentary and aspirations, and good wishes for the recipient. Always keep in mind that your notes do not need to be long, they simply need to be thoughtful. Example, in appreciation: “Thank you so much for the blender. What a special treat! You know that I love smoothies, and I have been dreaming of being able to try new recipes at home. Be on the lookout for a brunch invitation soon! In good health…”
Consider a Challenge
In order to encourage us all to lead a more glamorous life, your Etiquette Expert, Sarah Carey, would like to pose a challenge: send at least one piece of personal mail every week for the next four weeks (or four total). Recipients might include a friend or a recent hostess, a former colleague, your neighbor, a family member, someone you admire, your priest/rabbi/minister, your sweetie, a school friend, or anyone else with whom you want to connect, for a special reason or for no reason at all. Anyone who completes the challenge will be eligible to receive a special treat.* Let us know in the comments if you are interested in joining! (Due to space, we ran out of time to cover mail trivia, but rest assured, you will see a full post on etiquette trivia in the future.)
* This post is not sponsored. All prizes will be selected & provided by Sarah Carey.
Sarah Carey is The Glamorous Housewife Etiquette Expert. You can read more about her here.