It’s common practice to get someone a card from a store for a specific holiday, birthday, or special event. Some of these cards are funny, charming, or creative, but none of them will mean as much to your recipient as a handwritten, personal note.
What makes a personal note so impactful? And what steps can you take to make your notes mean more to your recipients?
There’s Nothing Wrong With a Card
First off, whether you’re sending flowers on Valentine’s Day or just telling someone special how much they mean to you, there’s nothing wrong with buying or sending a card. In fact, you can hypothetically get the best of both worlds by sending a card that includes a handwritten note as an extra. If you don’t have the energy or desire to include a handwritten note, it’s perfectly fine to give someone a generic card that’s otherwise empty, too.
This article isn’t meant to condemn card giving, or even giving gifts with the absence of a card or message. Instead, it’s only meant to highlight just how valuable a personal note can be.
The Power of a Note
Let’s take a look at why personal notes typically mean more than generic cards:
- The message is unique. It’s human nature to like rare and unique things. It’s debatable as to why this is a feature of our collective minds. For example, it could be that this is an evolutionary trait that arose from our foraging nature. Early human beings were hunter-gatherers who scoured the forests for things to eat. A rare find is something exciting and unusual that triggers the reward centers of our brain and encourages us to keep looking for more; some vestige of this trait may be at play here. But regardless of the origin, people love unique messages – and generally prefer them over mass marketed ones.
- The message shows your personality and style. Writing a personal note is an opportunity to show off your personality and individual style. Even if you don’t spend much thought or effort on your message, the message will naturally radiate with your best characteristics. This is true even if your message feels clumsy or awkward; in fact, your clumsiness or awkwardness might be the trait that this person loves most about you, making your message all that more special to them.
- The message expresses your most important thoughts. And of course, writing a personal note means you’ll get the opportunity to express your most important thoughts. Instead of browsing a selection of cards and choosing the one that happens to be the closest fit to what you’re feeling, you can simply write what you’re feeling.
Writing Better Notes
So what steps can you take to write better personal notes to the most important people in your life?
- Use your own handwriting if possible. We’ll start with an easy task; use your own handwriting if possible. Depending on the context, you might be tempted to send an email, type and print a note, or include your message in some other rigid format. But writing with pen or pencil on paper usually makes a more lasting impression.
- Be honest and direct. Notes are powerful in part because of how sincere they are. It’s important to be honest and direct in your message, even if it makes you feel vulnerable. In fact, if you feel vulnerable while writing the message, it’s a sign you’re probably doing things right.
- Exercise some creativity. Loosen up and exercise your creativity. There are dozens of little ways you can make your message more creative, more unique, and more enjoyable to the person receiving and reading it. Little touches, like including more exclamation points or tossing in a couple of tongue-in-cheek jokes could take your message to the next level.
- Don’t sweat it if you don’t come up with something brilliant. Some people never write personal notes because they get stuck on the creation process. Instead of writing something down, they agonize over word choices and the overall direction of the message. But try not to sweat it if you don’t come up with something brilliant, even simple messages work.
- Consider adding a doodle. If you want to add even more personality to the message, consider adding a simple doodle at the end. You don’t have to be a great artist; a little animal or geometric shape is plenty.
- Include your signature. Signatures have historically been used as a unique identifier – and one that could prove the legitimacy of a given document because of how unique they are. Signing your message legitimizes it and makes it uniquely branded as yours.
Finally, remember that you don’t need a special occasion to send someone a handwritten note. You don’t have to wait until the next major holiday, nor do you have to give someone a gift with your note. Instead, if you’re thinking of someone special in your life, why not sit down and write them a nice letter right now? There’s no time like the present.