In the grey days following the holiday season and before Valentine’s Day, sending a friend a card is a simple pick-me-up that takes little effort and can have a big impact. Today is National Send a Card to a Friend Day, and in case you needed a prompt to complete a simple act of kindness today, consider this your nudge.
Several free ecard websites offer a variety of cards to choose from, so if you’re truly pressed for time, sending an ecard or two is a thoughtful way to go. Try one of the following, or use your favorite ecard site to send some joy to someone who makes you smile:
- americangreetings.com/cards/ecards browse the “Thinking of You” section.
- jibjab.com has a selection of funny videos that you can customize with pictures of you and your friends’ faces.
- smilebox.com has simple, well-designed cards that are easy to customize.
Of course, there’s nothing like receiving a longer note from a friend if you have time to write a personalized letter that has a bit more heft to it. A handwritten card, letter, or even an email communicating that you’re thinking of someone can brighten their day. Our day-to-day, fast-paced communication of text messages, quick emails, and brief phone calls is efficient but doesn’t always leave a lot of time to communicate how much we value the deeper relationships in our lives. There’s nothing wrong with a quick text to say “I love you,” but taking the time on occasion to write a bit more is a good way to bolster any friendship.
People joke that most recently adopted “holidays” are inventions of greeting card companies to sell cards. In this case, since the official title is National Send a Card to a Friend Day, that seems particularly applicable. But one of my favorite things about this holiday is that it does not require a monetary investment or even a significant amount of time to participate. You can dedicate as much or as little time as you have available to send a brief note of appreciation to someone whose friendship you value.
I have a plastic shoebox filled with cards that I’ve received throughout my life from birthdays to wedding cards to letters from family and friends. I especially treasure the handwritten letters from my grandmothers, and I know I will appreciate their words for years to come. I’ve started boxes for each of my children to collect their special cards from baby showers, preschool events, and holiday notes. When I was in college, my Dad started sending me weekly email updates so that I could feel connected to the rest of my family while living away from home. I still have a folder of those saved emails in my inbox, and even though they don’t have the same tactile memories as a handwritten card does, I value his words and the thought he put into them.
I keep a box of blank greeting cards and forever stamps in my office that are related to various occasions so that when the mood strikes, it’s simple to jot a quick note and let someone know I’m thinking about them. Any dollar store is a great source for inexpensive greeting cards, and I can usually purchase two cards for a dollar, which makes the expense, with the stamp, right around a dollar to brighten someone’s day.
Basic card writing format applies whether you send an ecard, email, or traditional greeting card. Start with a greeting, formal or informal, depending on your friendship. (I like to address close friends with silly nicknames, and I typically omit the standard “Dear” in favor of a less structured greeting.) Then, follow that with the body of your message, and end with a salutation. You do not have to write a novel to say something that will be appreciated by the recipient. Again, when writing to friends, formality is not necessary. Depending on the relationship and the personality of the person you’re addressing, a simple heart and your first name could suffice to end the card. You do not have to follow the etiquette of a business email when writing a card to a friend, which means you have a lot of freedom to customize your greeting and signature. Add in shared memories or past jokes, and write about times you’ve spent with them in the past and memories you hope to make in the future.
Hey Best Friend of My Youth,
I was thinking about you today and wanted to reach out to say how much you mean to me. You’re amazing, and I’m so grateful to know you! We need to get together soon, but until then, know that I’m thinking of you and owe you a full mug of hot cocoa with extra whipped cream.
Lots of warm wishes and love,
Informality is not an excuse to neglect grammar and punctuation, especially if you want your friend to easily understand your message. But, although I’m a stickler for those things, don’t let spelling challenges be the obstacle that keeps you from writing a card. Maybe if you’re less comfortable with where to add a comma or how to spell a certain word, you’d prefer to type your letter and depend on a spelling and grammar check tool. Or you can always handwrite a note and google any specific words that you’re uncertain about. The point is to keep it simple and personalized, so use language that you’re familiar with and that will be the most meaningful to the recipient, your friend.
If you need to create a more formal document and need help with grammar and spelling or choosing the best words to clearly communicate your meaning, I recommend working with a technical writer and editor. Unlike a personalized card to a friend, technical documentation needs to be exact, and having a team of technical writers and editors to support you in drafting the best procedure, policy, or even business letter is a smart investment.
All that to say, your written words matter, especially to your friends and family.
I am extending the following challenge today: Choose a friend and some version of a card. Then, do the important work of capturing your thoughts on paper or screen and sending them to him or her. Sending a card to a friend is a relatively easy way to celebrate an important person in your life and communicate how much you care.