It’s do-it-yourself note week! We’ve all had birthdays, holidays and other occasions that were especially noteworthy. Here are some hints to help you write the perfect personal note.
1. Thank yous
Be brief and specific; don’t spend hours talking about your feelings. You should include a particular example, perhaps of how you’ll use the gift in the future. Try to be on time, but remember that a card is better late than never!
Compliment the best qualities of that person and thank them for being a part of your life. Including good thoughts for the upcoming year is a nice way to get personal, but if the card is for a relative or someone older, don’t assume they’re excited to age. Avoid putting their age in the card and instead focus on the day itself.
Celebrate the achievement, not the worries that come with it. Write that you know the person can handle what the future will bring, such as relationships, babies or workloads. Be specific with your compliments: optimism and examples go a long way.
Don’t be afraid to send sympathy! It feels better to receive too much support than not enough. Use the deceased person’s name, but do not use the words “died” or “dead” – the loss is what the recipient is struggling with. It can be hard to express yourself in these kinds of cards, and it’s okay to be honest. Let them know you don’t know what to say or you can’t imagine how they feel, but emphasize that you are there to support them.
5. Other occasions
Don’t be shy. If you feel like you should thank someone or send celebratory regards to someone, then do it! It’s more likely they will appreciate your thoughtfulness than wonder if there’s a hidden agenda. Thanking interviewers, congratulating a professor you’re close with on their award or expressing your condolences that your best friend’s mom lost her job are all appropriate situations for which you can send a message through a handwritten card.