Today we’re giving Carrie Beth Taylor, our resident LC.com artist and letter writing aficionado, the floor to talk about a subject that she is very well versed in. Because she writes so many notes (and creates her own stationary, too), she put together a few ladylike laws for all of us on letter writing etiquette.
These days, it’s so easy to send a ‘thanks!’ via text or e-mail. However, not only is a handwritten note special, but your stationery ‘wardrobe’ can also express a great deal about your style. Sharing appreciation, offering congratulations, or just a note to say ‘hi’ can have a great deal of meaning when written down. And because some of us were not born fabulous letter writers, I wanted to put together the do’s and don’ts of sending a handwritten note. From the bride-to-be congrats to the every day ‘thank you’ note, these tips and tricks on correspondence etiquette are sure to help you out when it comes time to sit down and place pen to paper!
Did you know that the first paper mill was built in America in 1690, and that all of the paper was hand made from cotton? Luckily for us, these days there are tons and tons of types of stationery. From paper texture, size, color and imprint…the possibilities are endlessly fun! Though there are many details and specifics that go into learning about stationery and correspondence, I’ll review these few steps as a guide.
As a rule of thumb, I like to think of stationery the same way I think of my clothing. It’s easy to break it down into three categories: casual, semi-formal and formal. No matter the category, I prefer my stationery to be personalized with my name or monogram. Casual stationery would be considered printed with flat ink and may have a design such as a watercolor image. A semi-formal tone in stationery can be achieved with a raised ink print, which is called thermography. The most formal of the three would be considered engraved, letter-pressed or gold foiled. No matter how casual or formal, having your address printed on the envelope flap is important. The printed ‘return address’ is beneficial for you, the postal service and the recipient.
Multiple Thank You Notes
The thought of writing thank you notes for all those wedding, birthday, or graduation gifts can be overwhelming! Just like anything, organization can be a lifesaver in these situations. When you expect to receive multiple gifts due to a special life occasion, be sure to keep records. In this case, it’s beneficial to keep a notebook on hand to list the name(s) of those that gave the gift, their address (if available), the gift given and date received. The time frame in which you have to send out thank you notes is widely debated. However, I find a three-month window from when you received the gift is very acceptable in most opinions. Try to tackle a few notes per day as to not get overwhelmed.
It happens to the best of us, ladies. You find yourself tapping your pen on the table or doodling little stick figures! I find it best to start out by creating a draft on scrap paper. This spares your stationery from unsightly scratches and mistakes, and also helps your mind begin to get in the writing mode. It’s best to just ‘start writing’ to get going. Even if you feel it’s silly or the content is not flowing, just write. You are sure to come up with some sentences that you can paste together.
When writing a friend in a chatty format, it’s best to translate your correspondence in a conversational way. Keep your language simple. However, specific details such as quotes, descriptive colors, sounds or feelings will give your note a fun personal flair.
Remember one thing when writing a semi-formal letter, such as to a club or organization: Not to panic! Search for a guide or template to reference for a suitable format structure. However, treat it as just that… a guide. When copied word for word, a template can come across as impersonal. In addition, be sure to double check spelling and try not to repeat the same adjective more than once.
Formal notes can be thank you letters in appreciation for a nice gift during a special occasion such as a graduation or a wedding. When possible, reference the specific gift given, how you will use it and how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness and involvement in your event or achievement. If you are given money, don’t mention the words ‘money’ or ‘cash’ in your note. Instead, mention how thankful you are for the ‘very generous gift’ and possibly what you may intend to do with the gift, if it’s appropriate.
That’s a Wrap!
Whatever the formality, content or reason, it’s always a good idea to end your note in a positive, uplifting way. Remember that being positive is contagious, whether in person or in written word. Have more correspondence questions? Leave them for me in the comments and I’ll get back to you with my tips!
xo Carrie Beth
P.S. Looking to get started with your letter writing? Make sure to shop my fashion illustrated stationery collection at www.carriebethtaylor.com