Hand-Written Letters in An Era of Email

Often in this world of typing, we miss out on the tactile pleasure of writing a letter or note by hand. However, there is something just a little bit magical about sealing an envelope or scribbling out an address to a far away place; perhaps, because we know the joy of being on the receiving end . . .

Sending a handwritten letter is a little way that we can give; maybe make someone’s day, send our condolences, or a congratulations. Yes, an email is quicker and more convenient from a time-saving perspective, but you can only get as much from things as you give to them. Give the time to sit down and write, to choose nice stationary, to lick and seal an envelope. Not only will you be giving a tangible object but you’ll benefit from the tactility of making.

The hand written letter is a tangible representation of your connection and friendship with the one whom you mail it to. The tactile experience of holding and opening an envelope, of hearing the rip of the sealed flap, the crinkle of paper and the unfolding of a letter; it is the touchable, material existence that makes receiving a note this way a little bit more magical.

Email is convenient. It doesn’t take up space in our drawers or require a walk out to the mailbox. You don’t have to go on a hunt for a pen that works or stop and think where in the world you keep the envelopes. But if we’re really to embrace slower living, let’s put the importance of making and of connection over the easiness of email.

Many of us may not have written a letter in a while . . .

I’ve collected a bit of letter-writing etiquette that you will want to look over before beginning . . .

Letter Writing Etiquette for the 21st Century :

1. The date is typically placed in the upper right-hand corner of the 1st page. Especially if you’re mailing a letter internationally, it may take a long time before arriving at it’s destination, and a date simply gives the recipient a way of knowing when it was written.

2. The best letters will share stories or memories and will offer value in the form of heart-warming or inspiring anecdotes. A letter may kindly instruct or offer sage advice, though more sensitive topics may be best for another time…

On the other hand, occasionally there are words that we cannot bring ourselves to say out loud, in which case writing them in a letter is better than never getting them out at all.

3. If you’d like a letter back, ask questions and engage your recipient. If you share a memory, ask if they remember it the same way. If you share updates on your life, ask about theirs! It is only the polite thing to do.

4. Try to write legibly! Of course, your hand writing is part of the charm of a hand-written letter, but don’t make your reader pull out a magnifying glass or wonder what you’re saying.

Now that we’ve got a little etiquette down, let’s talk about ending letters. The closing can sometimes be difficult to decide on. While ending with the traditional ‘sincerely’ can often feel too still and formal, sometimes ‘love’ doesn’t quite fit the occasion… Plus, in the spirit of intentionality, it’s important to come up with just the right closing for your particular recipient. To help you, I’ve written about 5 unique and charming ways to end your letters below . . .

Unique Ways to End Your Letter :

1. ‘Kindly’ : This one is my favorite. It’s simple and sweet and appropriate for both beloved kin and strangers.

2. ‘Very Sincerely Yours’ : This adds a warm touch to the traditional ‘Sincerely.’

3. ‘Kindest Regards’ or ‘Warmest Regards’ : Again, this is fitting for a stranger or a friend. It is appropriate for some formal relationships without sounding cold or detached.

4. ‘Gratefully’ : Show your gratitude for friendship or a favor received.

5. ‘As Ever’ : A sweet, unique way to end; probably most suitable for a friend or more well-known acquaintance.

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

You can also write letters to those within the walls of your own home. My husband and I thoroughly enjoy writing notes to each other, and I bought this mailbox to hang inside our house, into which we can drop little notes and love letters to each other . . .

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

With some letter etiquette and some new, unique ways to end your heart-felt note, you’re ready to drop some freshly sealed envelopes in the mail . . .

Every now and then, and I’m sure you can find the time, sit down and write a hand-written letter; a note to an old friend, or a message to a new one, a congratulations to an acquaintance or condolences to a neighbor. Whomever it is, be intentional; give of your time and thoughts and truly try to embody your care for them in your writing. (Which, btw, doesn’t mean it has to be a ten page love-letter, a short note or card, when done well, can show how much you care as well).

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

What matters is the connection, the tactile experience of making and opening, the magic of a surprise in the mail and the little bit of wonder in the tangible representation of a real, genuine connection.

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

I am wrapping up and sending a package and hand-written note to a new acquaintance today (Of course, I didn’t photograph this one because I didn’t think they wanted their address made public). Instead, I had fun making up magical places for the packages I wrapped for these photos. I wanted to keep the packages out as a cute addition to our decor and as a little reminder to send gifts and write letters more often.

My “make-believe” addresses:

hand written letters mailbox white interior calligraphy slow living

As always, I hope this post finds you well and if not, I hope it brings a little wonder and whimsy into your day . . . Thoughts on letter writing? Do you do it often? Would you do it more if you knew the recipient would write back? Does the idea of getting letters in the mail excited you? I’d love to know your thoughts and questions either below or over on Instagram. Thanks for being here; you are so wonderful and capable and appreciated.

Kindly, Warmest Regards, and As Ever,

Erica

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