Remembering the Art of Handwritten Notes

Have you ever walked into a really fancy department store, boutique, spa, or restaurant, and asked for someone (friend who works there, owner, your stylist, etc.) who isn’t there? Chances are they’ll pull out a sheet of beautifully monogrammed paper and hand over a pen, asking if you’d like to leave a note. At first, it is befuddling; snippets of LOLs and smiley faces run through your head until you finally tap into the recesses, way back there, from grade school, on how to write a note. There is a resurgence of the handwritten note as a luxurious and glamorous beauty mark. The handwritten note has been notably missing from daily life for so long it feels quite new and wondrous again. Whether you are at a beautiful store writing a note for your favorite jewelry counter girl, or popping a missive in the mail for your best friend, this classic correspondence is coming back in style. Here are some tips for writing top-notch notes.

The Newsy Note
There are two ways to handle the “Newsy Note,” or the note that tells the reader some noteworthy item of business or pleasure. Either spill all of the news right away, letting the emotion in the words fill the reader, or demurely hint at the news and leave the reader full of anticipation. The Newsy Note is a wonderfully fun note to write, because it has a distinct point and, when written with true emotion, will make the reader giddy. Emails will get the word there quickly, but they feel impersonal and empty of sentiment in the wake of exciting news. You snagged two tickets to the amazing concert, and one is for her. There’s a baby on the way. You want her to be a bridesmaid. That cute old crush? He’s in town again. Countless items are news-worthy enough to warrant a note. Take the time to choose a beautiful blank card or sheet of paper and a nice pen, and share the news in a happy and personal tone. “Dear Jane, How I’ve missed you so! I haven’t been able to tell you in person yet, so I wanted to write: We’re expecting!”

The Just-Because Note
How uplifting it is to come back from a lunch break or long day and find a note with your name on it! Thoughtful attention to detail is the trademark of the “Just-Because” note. You saw their favorite flower at the farmer’s market and thought you’d write a note. You remembered that it was their anniversary (and such a beautiful wedding it was!), and wanted to tell them. For the girl at the makeup counter who helps you every time, leave her a note saying you get countless compliments on the shade she picked for you. The purpose of this note is a “pop-in” to the recipient’s life. It is a “coffee break” with them, of sorts, via paper. Pretend you’re spending a few moments with that person and write down your sentiments. Chances are, it will be just what the recipient needed, and they will feel inspired by your kind words.

The Thank-You Note
The Thank-You note is the gold-standard of handwritten notes. We were probably all taught to write thank-you notes, but how many of us forgo them in lieu of texts, emails, or phone calls? While we don’t discount those avenues of thanks, there are certain people and occasions that warrant a handwritten note. There’s no need to be intimidated by the thank-you note. Be honest and grateful, thanking the giver for their thoughtfulness. Offer at least one example of how it did/will bless you: “We are enjoying the hammock you brought from Ecuador. It will go perfectly in the back yard next summer for lazy days with the kids—and until then, we’ve put it up in the basement. The kids love it!” or, “The birthday present was so thoughtful. The color will be fabulous for our trip to the Bahamas this winter and I can’t wait to wear it.”

Special Touches
Paper and pen are the critical elements of crafting a lovely note. Flat cards are ideal because they restrain you to a small space and can be dashed off in a moment at a café or on an airplane. Find a card or paper that exemplifies you, one that the recipient will be able to immediately identify as from you. You may wish to use a thick black pen, a pink pen, a pencil, or a standard ballpoint. We love to use colored Micron or LePen pens. The beauty of a handwritten note is that flourishes are encouraged. When emoticons are absent, doodles add allure. Sketches of a flower or handbag liven up the note. If you’re mailing your note, try to find stamps that coordinate with the note or the recipient. Slip a little something extra in with it, such as a sticker from the art museum you visited or a brochure from that darling new bakery. A local stationary store is wonderful to peruse, but you can find stationary online at some of our favorite retailers: www.etsy.com, www.dayspring.com, www.paper-source.com, and www.crane.com.

We’ve seen beautiful handmade notes sent with online orders from handmade retailers. An order from Kate Spade arrived with a handwritten letterpress card. When we purchased new eyeglasses this year, we received a gracious thank you saying they hoped we liked our new “looks.” We recently sold a house, and one realtor left a personalized gold note after a showing saying how they loved the house. The handwritten note is back, and the new era is glamorous and beautiful. It is a small but decadent gift you offer, be it to share good news, to let them know you’re thinking of them, or to offer thanks.

Image via B Designs Letterpress

Natalie is a writer, baker, dreamer, inspirer and all-around happy girl who loves a small-town pace and a great farmer’s market. She writes about finding the beautiful in everyday life over at Good Girl Style.

8 COMMENTS
  • RacheL H. December 3, 2012

    I’m so fond of getting handwritten notes and mail! So… I try to bless my friends by writing notes to them, even if it’s only a small postcard.

  • Natalie Wise November 29, 2012

    Hi Katy, Kelly, and Elizabeth
    Thank you so much for your comments 🙂 I’m just so pleased to see others who enjoy the art of handwritten notes.

    Katy, making it a New Year Resolution is a GREAT idea!
    Kelly, I completely agree that the sentiment is held on to for much longer when written down on a note. Elizabeth, Thank you for your kind words. It definitely seems like we are on the same ‘page’!

  • Elizabeth Cottrell November 29, 2012

    How thrilled I am to find someone else trying to revive the art of personal note writing. I blog about it frequently as I am fascinated with the power of connection. And what better connection tool than a personal note, for all the reasons you so eloquently cited.

    It’s wonderful to find a kindred spirit. By the way, I found this article because I have a Google alert set up for “Handwritten note.”

  • Kelly November 28, 2012

    I love writing notes! Something as simple as “The cake you made for Carol’s birthday was delicious” is appreciated and quickly dismissed over text, but it’s treasured in a card, IMO. I like the idea of getting flat cards – sometimes I want to write something but don’t think I can fill a whole folded card, so I don’t write anything at all. Flat cards would be perfect to keep in my purse for short, spur-of-the-moment things.

  • Katy LeGrand November 27, 2012

    I love this! I am going to make writing more notes one of my New Year Resolutions!

  • Natalie Wise November 26, 2012

    Thanks so much for your comments, Natalie and Brianna! I’m so glad to hear you are embracing a bit of the “new note.” It is so much fun, and even more wonderful in the digital age!

  • Natalie Lynn Borton November 26, 2012

    I love this! Though I’m admittedly terrible at this, I’d love to improve upon my personal correspondence. Definitely taking your tips to heart, Natalie!

  • Brianna November 26, 2012

    This is just what I needed to hear! My friend’s birthday is coming up and I was planning to send her a text on the day and then get coffee with her that weekend. After reading this, I’ll definitely be ditching the text and send her a long letter instead.

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