Return to Sender

By Alexi Drosu

These days receiving a posted letter—replete with a colorful stamp—may seem like a novelty, but more and more of us are stepping away from the inbox and heading to a mailbox. The US Postal Service recently reported that 87 percent of millennials like the thrill of opening an envelope addressed to them. “Things fall out of fashion and then reemerge,” says Daniel Post Senning, the great-great-grandson of famed etiquette writer Emily Post. Writing (and receiving) a personally penned note is about making a heartfelt connection.

Here are his tips for saying it with substance and style.

Keep It Clear

Develop a critical eye when you read your own handwriting. Can someone else understand your scrawl? “It doesn’t need to be in script,” adds Senning. “Write in print. It’s still going to register as significant and personal.”

Craft a Draft

Paper doesn’t offer spell-check, so a draft can be useful, especially if you’re mailing something unique like a birthday or holiday card. “I sometimes write a draft on a piece of paper about the same size to have a sense of spacing,” says Senning.

Know Your Audience

There’s a fine line between sharing life’s events and boasting, especially when writing a holiday letter encapsulating the past year. “It can start to feel like a glossy resume,” he says. “It’s a question of tone—a little emotional connectivity goes a long way.” Case in point: Instead of lauding your daughter’s high SAT scores, mention how you’ll miss her as she heads off to her dream college.

Take Your Time

Letter writing can be really powerful. There’s an act of trust in signing your name and expressing your thoughts.” If you are treading in delicate territory, put the letter aside and reread before mailing.

Consider the Closing

Closings should be placed in the lower right-hand corner, and options are endless. “It’s okay to be a little creative.” Ask yourself: What does this person mean to me? A little reflection may change a “warmly” to “with love.”

Always Send Something

Ideally, send thank-you cards within a few days of receiving a gift or, at the latest, after a week or two. The same holds true for condolence notes. However, there’s no official cutoff. Even if a note of gratitude is tardy, make the effort and send one.

Article by Mosaic and provided courtesy of Morgan Stanley.

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