Tips for sending thoughtful snail mail
I absolutely love finding beautiful snail mail in my mailbox. And I bet you do, too. I’m not talking about bills and advertisements, but a classic, hand-written note from a friend. Getting something written in ink, on real paper is such a novelty in the age of text messages and emails. I have a few friends who are really great at sending me thoughtful “just because” notes and they make my day. The neat thing about hand-written notes is that people share things differently when they write it down than if they just talk to you over the phone or in person. You may be great friends with someone, but I bet you will learn something new about them just by exchanging written letters. The key to continuing to receive snail mail from others is that you send replies to the notes they send you.
The secret to starting a habit of sending thoughtful notes is all in the organization. Snail mail can be as simple as a few sentences jotted down on a pretty card, so it doesn’t have to take very much time out of your day. But if your supplies are scattered all over the house, you will never get in the habit of sending regular snail mail. I recently created a Snail Mail Box to hold all my supplies, and I now regularly mail letters to others. The key to a functional Snail Mail Box is that it holds EVERYTHING you need. Here are the nine things I recommend you gather to make your very own.
1) Box or other container ~ I use a cute shoe box and it is the perfect size to hold all my supplies. If you are like me and don’t have a lot of storage at your house, then decorative baskets and boxes are your friends. I keep this box in a stack with a few others right out in the open. It acts as a decoration, but is also convenient for me to grab when I need to send some snail mail.
2) Thank yous & blank note cards ~ Writing on colorful cards and papers makes it fun to send notes. I keep a selection of blank note cards and thank you cards in my box. One thing I recommend is keeping all your envelopes the same size. All of my thank yous fit in the same white envelopes, which eliminates any wasted time trying to dig in my box for the correct size. The colorful note cards were a set and they will fit in any of the bright envelopes so I can mix and match colors. Having simple thank you notes readily available makes it much more likely that I will send a thoughtful thank you note to someone who earned it. I am a firm believer in the power of a hand-written thank you.
3) Special occasion cards ~ I used to be awful at sending cards because by the time I remembered a birthday, it was a hassle to make a special trip to the store to buy a card and get it in the mail in time. Also, I’ll admit that I actually dread shopping for greeting cards. There are just way too many options and when you stare at the huge display of them, the pressure of selecting the perfect card is just too overwhelming. I now make it a habit to snatch up any greeting cards I find on sale that are pretty and stylish and could work for multiple people. I try to keep my Snail Mail Box stocked with a few birthday cards with modern designs and colors that would work for either gender. I also stock a couple “congratulations” cards that could be fitting for a new baby, a new job or even a new house. And I usually have one or two flowery cards in my box that are perfect for my grandmas, who both are great at sending me snail mail. I recommend choosing cards with great designs on the outside and very little writing on the inside. That way you have more room to personalize the message to its recipient, and you aren’t limited by the (often corny) printed message. Keep in mind that it’s easier to stock blank note cards than to stock an appropriate card tailored to every occasion. I limit myself just a few common occasions and use blank cards for anything else. The stage of your life will dictate what cards you should stock. For me, it’s weddings and babies. For others, it might be graduations or retirements. Whatever the case, just keep a few and replace them as needed. Don’t become a greeting card hoarder!
4) Writing utensils ~ Keep a few pens and colorful markers tucked in your box so they are always handy for jotting a quick message.
5) Stamps, stickers & embellishments ~ This is optional, but I keep a few fun stamps and ink pads in my box. You might also stock stickers or other fun extras to add to your notes.
6) Postage stamps ~ The worst is when you finish a letter to someone and then you can’t track down a stamp. Make it easy by keeping postage right in the box. Buy a couple sheets of stamps at once so you don’t run out and you can avoid the line at the post office. Also, keep in mind that you can find stamps with a lot more personality than the American flag. Sure, the flag does the trick. But the post office carries other options so take a look next time. You can also go crazy and create custom stamps online but be prepared to pay extra for them.
7) Return Address Labels ~ I keep return address labels right with the postage so it’s easy to stick them on the envelope and send it on its way. I currently have pretty boring ones with blue text on a white label, but they do the trick. You can download templates for much prettier ones, which I will probably do once I use these up.
8) Addresses ~ If you have a physical address book, store it in your Snail Mail box. I keep all my addresses in a spreadsheet on my computer, but I do keep a written address list for the people I regularly mail things to taped right inside the cover of my box for quick reference.
9) Letters Needing Replies ~ When I receive snail mail, I keep it in my box as a reminder that I need to send a reply. I also make sure to keep the envelope with it so that I can easily reference their return address when I’m writing back.
There you have it! Now go gather your supplies and start assembling your own Snail Mail Box. And, most importantly, start sending some snail mail! Choose a few people who would appreciate a thoughtful note and surprise them with one! Once you start sending them, you will start getting more snail mail in return.
Do you regularly send snail mail? What would you add to this list of supplies? Comment below with your thoughts and tell me about your plans to start sending more thoughtful snail mail.
Looking for more advice? Read my 6 Pointers For Writing Charming Snail Mail.
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