Text and images by Sarita Rajiv
June was my daughter’s last month at her kindergarten. Which meant, I was busy handwriting thank you messages for the teachers at my daughter’s kindergarten group. To say her teachers were happy to get the handwritten thank you messages would be an understatement. My daughter was happy to be handing them herself; it was a simple lesson in gratitude and ‘saying thanks’ for her.
Why I write handwritten thank you messages
Why are handwritten messages and letters important? Why did I make a handwritten note and not just a readymade card that said thank you? Because I think a handwritten message is so much more personal than just a ready card where you just add in the 'to' and 'from'. And because handwritten messages and letters take time and the words matter, it shows the thought and effort I’ve put into them. It tells the recipients, “Hey you! You matter, you’re important. You mean something to me.”
Holding a handwritten note or letter in my hand, reading the words that flow from them and the surge of emotions I feel is something an email cannot duplicate. Never ever. And a handwritten message stands out in the pile of emails and social media posts I read day in and out.
I even have a Handwriting Hero - Matthew Trinetti has over the past three years sent handwritten postcards from different destinations to hundreds of strangers. It's his way of being grateful, of saying thanks to his readers and fits in with his personal mission. I've signed up to get one too!
How to create the perfect handwritten message or letter
A friend of mine who saw the handwritten thank you messages I made said, “You know, I can never make anything like these. My handwriting sucks and I wouldn’t know what to write.” Sound familiar? The first myth to banish is that your handwriting needs to be beautiful. Nope. All that matters is that what you write is clear, is legible. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s put our mind to the how. Do I have any tips and tricks for the perfect handwritten thank you message? You bet I do and they’re easy to use.
My top 5 tips and tricks for perfect handwritten thank you messages and letters:
1. Use a name: I’m not being pedantic here. But I know a lot of people who forget this. Instead of starting with hi or hello, start by addressing the person by name - for example ‘Dear Sarita’. It adds an instant warmth to your message, banishing distances and bringing you closer.
2. Get personal: Let's be clear here. You're not writing a message to a group of anonymous people. You're writing to one specific person. So steer clear of generic messages that could be meant for anybody. Write specifically about what this person means to you – what kind of friend, teacher or mentor they have been. What are the traits special to them – it could be their helpful nature, their generosity, their encouragement – that made a positive difference in your life.
3. Talk memories and experiences: Write about specific experiences involving the recipients – experiences that made a difference to you in some way. Invoke memories of good times you shared together; times you will look back on with fondness and gratitude.
4. Make a first draft: Knows that saying, 'practice makes perfect'? Well, it's true. Because I can’t auto-correct anything while writing on paper (without making a mess), I always scribble a draft note. It helps me focus on what I want to say and takes care of any spelling uncertainties. Write out a draft with pen and paper or type it out on the computer - do what suits you better.
5. Use good stationery: Good stationery is to handwritten notes what gift wrap is to gifts. It's the icing on the cake. Here’s where you avoid ordinary, lined notebook paper. Use plain, unlined stationery. If you can get your hands on some beautiful paper with matching envelopes, the better. If it’s a thank you message, you can use the back of cute, fun, store-brought cards as well.
There, you have it now. All that you need for a lovely handwritten thank you message. Go on, give it a try. You'll be adding a moment of joy in someone's life.
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