How To: The Personalized Thank You Note

  A glimpse at my personal stationery that I loved developing very simply so I could play with adding color + personalization based on the recipient.

A glimpse at my personal stationery that I loved developing very simply so I could play with adding color + personalization based on the recipient.

One of my very favorite ways to give a surprise is via the good ol' post office, because nowadays, snail mail always feels unexpected. A sad truth that I just hate facing! That being said, there's nothing better than sifting through what seems to be all junk mail, and seeing your name handwritten on a bright envelope.

A lost art, but an important gesture that we should work on protecting, is that of the handwritten Thank You note. Emily Post says there is nothing more personal than a handwritten note, and in a way, you kind of get to know a person based on the type of correspondence they assemble: What kind of paper will they use? Colored envelope or white? A quirky stamp or an American flag forever? Decisions, decisions.

I thought today I'd share with y'all some of my personal favorite 'ingredients' for making your Thank You note pop, and making your recipient feel like you put in some effort to thank them for whatever it may be. 

*Pro tip: Sending a Thank You note for a seemingly small gesture is one of the BIGGEST gestures reflective of you! So next time, pop one in the mail to thank the friend that picked up your lunch or dinner just because. 

Now let's get to chatting about what will take your snail mail that extra step:

  A look at one of the ways I've played with my personal stationery to go for a monochromatic look, vs. the previous pop of blue. 

A look at one of the ways I've played with my personal stationery to go for a monochromatic look, vs. the previous pop of blue. 

Your stationery.

Your starting point. At the most basic level, you can go personalized (meaning you have your name or monogram on the card), or you can go off-the-shelfboxed (meaning you purchase a set of cards that come packaged together and all look the same. Usually 8 or 10 cards in a box). I like to keep my actual card very simple. It allows your handwritten note to shine the most, and allows you to play with other elements (envelope, liner, stamp, etc.) to make each card you send quite unique. 

You'll notice across some of the photos included here that I like a personalized flat card vs. a folded card. I have my business name situated small at the top, with a thin black border. I also have it printed on a double-thick cardstock so it makes a bigger impression. (NOTE: thicker stock requires extra postage.) The overall simplicity of the card allows me to mix and match with the other elements we'll next talk about!

  And another look at how the SAME flat correspondence card plays with an all-white appearance, but includes a playful liner to keep it feeling informal.

And another look at how the SAME flat correspondence card plays with an all-white appearance, but includes a playful liner to keep it feeling informal.

Your envelope.

Just because the stationery you bought comes with corresponding envelopes, doesn't mean you have to use those. Most sets come with white or off-white envelopes. Not very much fun, huh? The outside of your Thank You note is your first impression to your recipient, so make it unique! Use a colored envelope with contrasting white ink (this Uniball white gel pen from Paper Source will help out if you don't yet know how to ink with a calligraphy pen). Or, if you do want to stick with a white envelope, use a colored ink pen instead of just blue or black (I personally love the Sakura gelly roll pens - flashback to grade school?). 

I usually keep a stock of Paper Source A7 envelopes in a variety of colors so I can mix and match. And my last note about your envelope - my absolute favorite element for personalizing a Thank You note is to add an envelope liner (the black and white interior of the blue envelope in the top photo). Paper Source sells a liner template kit that includes multi-sized stencils you can use to trace onto a patterned paper of any kind (specialty papers, scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, etc.) and cut out for an easy fit inside your envelope. Then just use a glue stick to seal it down, and Voila! An extra little surprise when your recipient opens up their envelope. 

Your stamp.

Seems like an area that really wouldn't allow for much variation, but the stamp may be my second-most favorite element to personalize on a Thank You note! I always ask the post office what stamps are available vs. just receiving the standard forever stamp. This way you can look at options. I also keep pretty close tabs on USPS.com to see what new stamps are seasonally released - it's the paper nerd in me.

I'm a little excessive and reeeeally enjoy the custom stamp option from PhotoStamps.com or Minted.com. For the "love, Madeleine" stamps, I actually hand wrote the greeting and scanned the design in for printing. I went with a clean black-and-white design for [again] purposes of mixing and matching, but love that you can take your personalization that extra step further.

Your handwriting!

No sloppy copies (haven't heard that phrase in some time, am I right?). This is not your grocery list or your work notes, or the back of a receipt in your car! This is a personal expression of gratitude, so give it the courtesy of a nice appearance. You don't have to have the most gorgeous penmanship of all time, that's not where I'm going. But you do want to be sure your note is legible (first and foremost!) and also reads as thoughtful. The more attention to detail you give, the more special your recipient feels on the other end. 

Additionally for consistency's sake, I recommend using the same color ink for your handwritten note as you do for your envelope addressing (when possible / applicable). For example, I'd use a black pen with white calligraphy ink, or a pink pen for both inside and out. The goal is to create a seamless experience and not have one design element catch your eye in a negative way!

Your timeliness.

This may be the most important - DON'T wait weeks on end to send your Thanks. You've now made your recipient feel like it was a burden to thank them for the nicety they gave to you, because you've taken so long. Emily Post says to send a Thank You note most immediately, though a late Thank You note is better than no note at all :)

From top to bottom of this post, I've given you a few different examples of ways that I've personalized my own stationery to each recipient, while keeping the consistent flat correspondence card. Similar elements, very different vibes associated with each. There's lots of flexibility when you keep your stationery piece simple!

Alright, y'all. QUITE a lot of thought on the handwritten Thank You note here, but all good stuff and all equally important. The biggest thing to remember is that you want that recipient to feel like their note was written just for them, so let that shine through in (1) what you write to them and (2) how you present it!

XO. Mad.