Hello friends! I want to dedicate the rest of this week to thank you cards. The next three days will be a theme of thank you cards. Today’s post is a little different though. Instead of sharing how I made the handwritten thank you card that you see below, I want to tell you why I made it in the first place! The “why” is always more important than the “how.”
A few weeks ago I found myself writing more handwritten thank you cards than I had since my wedding and I got to thinking about why we send handwritten thank you cards in the first place. What is the etiquette behind handwritten thank you cards and why do we still send them in modern times? Isn’t a follow up email good enough? I think that email and social media have their uses but I don’t think it’s appropriate to send a thank you message to someone digitally. I’m not talking about a “thanks for giving me a ride to work/school” type of thank you… I’m talking about genuine handwritten thank you cards that you would send after you receive a gift, sympathy from someone during a difficult time or after you’ve had an interview.
Now, many of you might argue that modern times call for modern communication and that might work for you. But one thing I’ve learned in the past year or so is that a computer is not a good replacement for paper.
Woah, yeah. I just went there. Let me elaborate. First, I’m not some techophobe from the malt shop days that can’t stand technology. Just the opposite. In my home you’ll find no less than eight different gaming consoles–including handheld consoles, five computers running three operating systems, three tablets, two smart phones and a Kindle e-reader. I’m the opposite of techophobe… I’m a techophile; are these even words? When I’m not designing cards I’m designing websites. I even had the most awesome opportunity to work on the new X-Box One! So definitely not afraid of technology. However, in the age of social media, I believe that it’s easy to forget how to interact with another person and the meaning behind our words can get lost in the digital pipeline.
Sending an email or shooting a message to someone on Facebook or LinkedIn is just. too. easy. Sometimes the easy path is not always the right path. I’d like to take credit for that line but that’s a gem from Disney’s Pocahontas. It’s important to send physical, handwritten thank you cards for one simple reason: it shows genuine gratitude. Handwritten thank you cards are warmer and more personal than other forms of thank-you communications.
When is it important to send a handwritten thank you card? There are a few times in my life that I’ve resorted to actual handwritten thank you cards and they were for my wedding, baby shower and any interviews that I’ve had for jobs I’ve REALLY wanted. I can’t stress the importance of that last one. Here’s a real world example for you.
A month ago I was looking for a job after being unemployed for nearly three months. I was sure that my contract gig wasn’t going to be renewed due to the reorganization of the company I’d been working for and I’d finally broken down and admitted to myself that it was time to search for a job with another company. It was hard to bring myself to do it. But then I found this great place that just seemed to be a great fit. The interview was pretty darn close to perfect and I really felt like this was the company I needed to work for. Knowing I was up against some others for the position, I didn’t want to be lost in a stack of paperwork. I wanted to be remembered and leave the best impression on the interviewers. Being the crafter that I am, I didn’t even hesitate to send handmade, handwritten thank you cards to all four people who interviewed me as well as the recruiter who set up my interview. I went home and created one-of-a-kind handwritten thank you cards for each person and got them in the mail the next day. The card pictured below is one of the actual cards sent but I did create five different cards so no one would receive the same card.
It’s important that the recipients of your handwritten thank you cards know just how much they mean to you. There are a couple of things you should remember when sending handwritten thank you cards; timing and message.
You’ll want to be timely when you are sending your handwritten thank you cards. This is something that I absolutely blew when I got married. I ended up making a couple of people a cookbook to make up for not thanking them quick enough. Ideally, you’ll want to send your handwritten thank you cards within a week of receiving a gift, within a month of your wedding and within one day of a job interview. I know some people that actually carry thank you cards with them to the interview, write them immediately afterward and then drop them in the mail on their way home.
You’ll also want to consider your message. It should be short and sweet and shouldn’t over-thank them (awkward!). For example, if you’ve just come out of a stellar interview and want to leave warm fuzzies for your interviewer:
“Mike; Thank you for taking the time to interview me today. After speaking with you today I really feel like my background is a great match for the position with XYZ Company. I’m looking forward to working with you soon. Stacey”
I’m not going to focus too much on what you should write for a message. My advice is to write from the heart. If they sent you a gift, tell them how much you appreciate their generosity and how you plan on using the gift. If they interviewed you, tell them why you’re the perfect fit for the position. Don’t write a book–keep it short and sweet.
Avoid spelling errors–especially on names! I can’t tell you how much it irks me when someone spells my name wrong. Oh boy, if you forget the ‘e’ and misspell my name as ‘Stacy’ you are on my doo-doo list! Here’s where you can take advantage of technology; type your message into Word or Pages and use the spell checker to make sure you’re correct. Then transcribe the message onto your handwritten thank you card.
Avoid rudeness–don’t like the gift? DON’T MENTION IT! Instead, thank them for their generosity and let them know that their gift truly means a lot to you and that you’ll think of them (if appropriate) when you use it. Leave it at that. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say what’s really on your mind. Don’t lie, but don’t be rude.
Avoid self-promotion. I’m just going to leave this right here. Thank you notes are about the recipient; not the sender.
Want to stand out? Making your own handwritten thank you cards will definitely help you stand out in a crowd. It’s easier thank you may think! Stampin’ Up has a kit called the Everyday Occasions Card Making Kit that I’ve written about before. It’s $29.95 and you get all the supplies you need (except basic adhesive–I recommend SNAIL Adhesive) to make 20 awesome cards for any occasion. Stamps and ink are included in the kit as well as all of the card bases and pre-punched decorations. It took me an average of 9 minutes to put together each card in the kit. Who doesn’t have 9 minutes to put together a handmade thank you card? Seriously, it’s mind-blowing how easy the kit is to put together.
So you’re probably wondering… did I get the job? I’m happy to report that a week after I sent the thank-you notes to each person, I was extended an offer and have been working for a wonderful small company (but growing) in the Seattle area for just over a month now. My favorite part is that it’s a five minute walk from Pike Place Market! And also it’s really close to a serious little establishment called Bellini; a place I frequent at least once a week. Life is one big adventure, my friends. :)
Suggested supplies to make your own handwritten thank you cards (including supplies for the card pictured above):
- Thank You stamp from the Everyday Occasions Card Making Kit (Just getting started? This and some SNAIL Adhesive are all you need to make 20 awesome cards for any occasion.)
- SNAIL Adhesive
Other supplies used to make the card pictured above:
- Crumb Cake Classic Stampin’ Pad
- Retro Fresh Designer Paper
- Crumb Cake Cardstock
- Whisper White Cardstock
- Sycamore Street Ribbon (Pool Party shown)
- Lucky Limeade Bakers Twine (sold out, try Early Espresso instead)
- Season of Style Washi Tape (Crumb Cake shown–sold out, try Epic Day instead)
- Brights Buttons
- Hexagon Punch to make the banner tails, you could also use Paper Snips