There are so many ways we can express gratitude, whether we realize it or not. Being an attentive listener, holding the door for someone and even helping our friends reach their goals by working out together are all ways we can show people we’re grateful for them. Sometimes though, the most effective way to express our gratitude is to put it into words and send a handwritten note.
We spoke with life coach and author Sarah Stewart to get her input on what we should keep in mind when writing a kind, handwritten note, so even if writing isn’t your thing, you can express your gratitude and send a fun greeting card.
There is no right or wrong time
You may think sending a thoughtful card to someone is only appropriate to send if you are saying happy birthday, thank you or I’m sorry. But really, greeting cards or “just because” cards can and should welcome any day!
“Any time is a good time to send a friend or family member a ‘thinking of you’ card,” Stewart says. “Traditional cards and letters have gone by the way side and have been replaced with email and e-cards, so it’s extra special to receive a hand-written card in the mail.”
If you’re deciding whether or not you’d like to send a card, we suggest to do it! It’s a perfect way to express gratitude or say hello to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and is bound to put a smile on your face and theirs.
Hitting up the card store or aisle can be fun, but it can also be overwhelming. With so many fun, cute, silly card options available, you may get carried away. One rule of thumb to keep in mind when selecting a card is to “choose one that is appropriate for the occasion,” Stewart says. “If it is for business, chose a more formal thank-you card. If it’s a friend, find one that matches their personality or will make them smile when they open the card.” While you and your girlfriends may love the card with kittens dancing on top of a pizza, your boss might not.
A pro tip is if you see a card that reminds you of a friend, purchase it when you see it. You don’t have to send it right away but you can save it for a rainy day and give it to them if they need a pick-me-up or if you want to remind them how much you value your friendship. The fact that it reminded you of them will make it especially special.
Make it about the receiver, not yourself
“Try to avoid starting with ‘I,’” Stewart points out. “So many letters start with ‘I wanted to let you know,’ ‘I was thinking of you’ or ‘I wanted to thank you.’ Instead, cut to the chase and open with what made you send the card in the first place. If it’s a thank you card, begin with thanking the recipient by simply saying ‘thank you’ or ‘you went above and beyond the call of duty, thank you.’”
Keep it brief
If you’re worried you don’t have enough to say when it comes to writing a card, that’s OK. In fact, it’s probably better (and recommended) to keep it short and sweet. “Identify what the person did, how it made you feel or how it helped you and express your gratitude,” Stewart suggests.
Here’s an example of a short and sweet thank you note:
Thank you so much for listening to me last week. Your advice was beyond helpful and really helped me come to a meaningful conclusion. I am so lucky to have you as a friend and mentor.
Don’t overthink it
If you aren’t able to find a stellar card with a front that reminds of you the recipient, you don’t believe you’re the best writer, you’re struggling to keep it short and sweet or you’re sending a card way after it’s due—don’t worry! You’re letting someone you care about know you’re thinking of them and that action in and of itself is enough to let this person know. They will appreciate it and feel your gratitude regardless.