You don’t need me to tell you that the art of the handwritten note has fallen by the wayside. Email is king! And yes, the instant gratification of email is more appropriate in some situations — after a job interview, a thank you email is far more timely than snail mail (although in some fields, a handwritten note sent alongside an email is also encouraged). But in some situations, the ping! of a new email alert doesn’t quite compare to receiving a letter in the post. Here are a few moments you might consider breaking out the stationary and your favorite ballpoint pen:
1. Birthday Thank Yous
Tried and true. If you have a birthday party, forego the blanket “thank you everyone for the birthday wishes!” Facebook status in favor of personalized thank you notes. Actually, both is okay! Feel free to express your gratitude on every social media platform, but going back to basic grade school birthday party etiquette is a nice touch. A brief, heartfelt note of appreciation will always brighten someone’s day.
Sure, postcards are old hat now that Snapchat and FaceTime exist to share your vacation and study abroad adventures in realtime with friends and family. But I ask you: who doesn’t love to receive mail from far flung corners of the world? Sure, your best friend may not receive her postcard from Greece until you’re already back home, but knowing that you took time to pick out a card and figure out another country’s postal system feels more significant than a 5 second Snapchat video of Santorini at sunset (beautiful as that may be).
3. Congratulations & Condolences
It is still customary to send all manner of well wishes via a beautiful card. Graduation? Perhaps you should send that new grad a pretty Rifle Paper Co card. Best wishes on a recent engagement/wedding/new baby? Ditto. Condolences are a more somber affair, and while it may be hard to find the right words, a physical show of support will always be appreciated.
4. Business-related Thank Yous
If you work on a special project, event, or other collaboration with a business colleague or someone who is your superior, follow up by sending that person a written thank you note. It builds goodwill and shows you appreciate that someone else took time out of his or her schedule to help you and/or your business. Saying thank you in person is important, but it is also good form to take an extra few minutes to send a handwritten thank you.
5. Pen Pals
Does anyone even have pen pals anymore? Maybe it’s time for epistolary friendships to make a comeback! During my freshman year of college, one of my high school best friends and I kept up a written correspondence regularly. We still texted and commented on each other’s Facebook statuses, but we kept the bulk of our life updates confined to snail mail. I loved receiving her letters. She’d often include little drawings or mementos in them, and I would send her similar things I thought she’d enjoy. Our letters were equivalent of late-night sleepover talks and I loved it. I highly advocate trying long-term letter-writing with a friend at least once!