The ABC's of Letter Writing
Read about this project on the blog.
Click on stamps for more information.
Click on stamps for more information.
ABC's of Letter Writing / A = Address
A is for address . . . because without it, your letters, cards, and notes go nowhere!
The ABC's of Letter Writing / B = Birthday
The Greeting Card Association watches trends and sales, and reports that birthday cards are “by far” the most popular everyday cards sent.
They also report that, “Younger card buyers and those who are more technology savvy are currently the ones most engaged in buying paper greeting cards online.”
Good news for online retail shops and anyone hoping to get a birthday card in the mail.
Wish someone a happy birthday by sending a card . . . a small but notable gift.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / C = Cinderella
This series, the ABC's of Letter Writing, is in fact a series of Cinderella stamps; stamps that look like postage stamps but have no value as postage.
It's a challenge to design for such a small space . . . it's important for the stamp to be legible at a small scale. With this stamp I experimented with the lettering and pearl like embellishments on the pumpkin.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / D = Dear
Dear . . . it's the most common of all salutations, in handwritten and printed letters. In emails, things are different. "Hi," and "Hello," are common, though some experts argue "Dear" is still the best way to begin an online correspondence with someone you don't know. What do you think?
The ABC's of Letter Writing / E = Envelope
Though most correspondence is slipped in to an envelope, that was not always the case. Lettersheets, distributed by the postal service, were common in the 18th and 19th centuries. Lettersheets were simply a sheet of paper used for writing, then folded and addressed on the outside to become self-mailers.
Lettersheets can still be used, but envelopes are more common. You can make your own envelopes from decorated or plain papers, or purchase them from paper companies, printers, or office supply stores.
Here are some common sizes:
A-2: 4.375 x 5.75" / Enclosure: 4.25" x 5.5"
A-7: 5.25" x 7.25" / Enclosure: 5" x 7"
#10: 4.125" x 9.5" / Enclosure" 4" x 9.25"
Monarch: 3.875 x 7.5 / Enclosure: 3.75" x 7.25"
Be aware that the USPS has requirements for standard envelopes sizes (ratio of height to length). Envelopes that fall outside the proper dimensions will require additional postage (minimal cost), but may be worth it!
Do you make your own envelopes and/or stationery?
The ABC's of Letter Writing / F = Forever Stamp
In 2007 the United States Postal Service created Forever Stamps for First Class letter mail. When you buy Forever Stamps, they hold value for First Class letters, even if postal rates increase.
If you have a stash of Forever Stamps in your desk, you'll save when rates increase; the stamps you bought at the lower rate are good for the increased rate. No need to add penny stamps or additional postage to cover the increase. A Forever Stamp is good, well, forever!
ABC's of Letter Writing / G = Greeting Card
Americans buy over 6 billion greeting cards a year. Amazing, especially in a world saturated with online social media. More than 80% of those cards are purchased by women. According to the Greeting Card Association, birthday cards are the most popular, followed by a mix of others including thank you cards, sympathy, get well, new baby, and congratulations.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / H = Handwriting
Do you worry about your handwriting? Unless it is impossible to read or entirely illegible, try not to worry about it. Really. It's what makes your letters, cards, and notes so special.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / Q = Quill
The quill has endured as a universal symbol of writing. So often people worry about their writing; what to say and how to say it. The people you write to are interested and excited to get the mail you send. It's not a school paper, you won't be graded on your composition or sentence structure. Be yourself and write in a conversational tone, and you'll ace it.
And it turns out, writing letters is good writing practice. If you're having trouble getting started, say what you want to say out loud, then write it down. Sometimes it's best to use scratch paper to gather your thoughts. When you're ready, transcribe what you've written on stationery or a card.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / T = Thank You
It's a follow-up to a conversation, a show of appreciation for someone's time and effort, a genuine reflection of how impressed you were by something. Write a thank you note and you get to remember and record the very best of an event, encounter, or experience. Why wouldn't you want to write one?
The ABC's of Letter Writing / U = USPS
Of course you can put a note on someone's pillow or leave it on the kitchen table, but if you want to send it, the United States Postal Service (USPS) delivers. A sheet of paper, an envelope, address, and a the wonder of postmarked mail will carry your stories, best wishes, thanks, appreciation, and heartfelt concern where it needs to go . . . put a stamp on it.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / V = Valentine's Day
Flowers and chocolate are popular gifts for Valentine's Day, and a lasting and heartfelt love letter is the perfect pairing. Write to friends, parents, children, neices, nephews, and siblings. Oh, they be so surprised! Use our fill-in-the-blanks love letters and you'll see, love letters are not just for lovers.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / X = X's and O's
While it's appropriate and often important to sign off with words of affection, there are times when something less personal is called for. Yours truly is a good option, and a bit less formal than sincerely yours. Of course there are a string of other ways to sign off, including (but not limited to): Always, All the Best, Your Friend . . .
ABC's of Letter Writing / I = Ink
Whether you use a ballpoint pen, a fountain pen, gel pen, or marker, they all need ink. Technology has improved ink flow and splattered ink is rare, but smudges, bleed-throughs, and dry pens can still be an issue when ink is involved.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / J = Jot It Down
Not all correspondence needs to be pages upon pages. If something comes to mind that you'd like to share, or you see something that brings someone to mind, jot it down. With room enough for just one or two sentences (three, tops), postcards and note cards are the perfect size to reach out and let someone know you're thinking of them.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / K = Keepsake
It happens all the time. Whenever a conversation turns to letter writing, someone pipes up and mentions the letters they've got tucked away in a drawer or box. Whether they are letters, cards, or notes from friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, or siblings, they are treasured. Why is that?
Letters, cards, and notes make people feel special. Sometimes there's one note of encouragement or praise that stands out. Other times it's the frequency. "My grandmother wrote to me everyday when I was at college." No matter the content, frequency, or who it's from, mail is tangible; proof that someone cares about you. And that, well that's something to hold onto.
ABC's of Letter Writing / L = Letter Opener
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death
When Patrick Henry, Revolutionary War activist and politician, made a call to arms against Britain, he grabbed a letter opener, thrust it toward his chest and delivered his well-known line, "Give me liberty, or give me death." Very effective.
My collection of letter openers comes from antique shops and yard sales, and often feature personal engravings or business logos. A surprising selection (though far less ornate) are available at office supply stores, while stationery stores and boutiques offer a selections with more character, like this one I found at Izola.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / M = Missive
It's rare to get a long letter; a missive that compels one to sit and savor, to turn the page, and continue reading. A letter that you'll read once and then again. And maybe one more time, later on, or tomorrow or the next day. A dispatch of shared thoughts, recollections, considerations . . . and wonder. It takes time and sometimes a bit of courage to write a long letter. To share so much, to put so many words on paper and let them go.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / N = Note
Notes are the darlings of letter writing . . . always in style and forever welcome. They are unique in that just a few sentences will do, and writing often brings as much satisfaction to the writer as it does the person whose name is on the envelope. From thank you to expressions of sympathy, goodwill, and appreciation, a succinct and meaningful note can soothe, comfort, and embolden. The more you write, the easier it gets, and your words? Well, they mean more than you might imagine, especially on paper.
ABC's of Letter Writing / O - Ounce
What a deal! At the current rate (50¢), a Forever Stamp on a First Class letter (one ounce or less) is an inexpensive way to reach out. Sending mail to the people you care about makes everyone feel good. It's not only inexpensive, but most often unexpected, a paper exchange that puts into your hands something the other person held. Most greeting cards are one ounce or less, and letters (along with the envelope) can be up to 4-5 pages and still weigh less than one ounce. It takes more than a penny to share your thoughts, but it's still pennies. And that? Well, it's priceless.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / P = Pony Express
The Pony Express started in 1860 and ended just 18 months later when the telegraph was introduced. Employed with a dangerous and grueling job, Pony Express riders carried mail, newspapers, messages, and small packages across a 1,900-mile trail. Racing from Missouri to California, riders changed mounts every 10-15 miles, covering an average of 70-100 miles a day.
In contrast to our telephones, tweets, and overnight delivery, Pony Express riders cut east-west delivery times in half, from an average of 20 days to just 10 days. A remarkable feat on horseback.
The Pony Express National Historic Trail, highlights landmarks along the trail from California, to Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / R = Return to Sender
Elvis Presley's 1962 hit "Return to Sender" from the movie Girls! Girls! Girls! holds true today. If you get unwanted mail, simply write "Return to Sender" on the unopened envelope or parcel and the mail carrier will take it away, no additional postage necessary.
I've had mail returned with the "Return to Sender" stamp when I've used an out-of-date address or made a mistake. Takes a while, but it does come back.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / S = S.W.A.K.
Put S.W.A.K. (Sealed With A Kiss) at the end of a letter or on the outside of an envelope, and your intended's heart may skip a beat. Another way to express your feelings is with x's and o's (for kisses and hugs), as many as you want!
The ABC's of Letter Writing / W = Wax Seal
Wax seals were created as a security measure. Papers sealed with wax could not be opened or read without noticeably disturbing the seal. Today they are used for decoration, with a multitude of designs available for purchase. Custom-made seals are also an option, like this seal that features the Postmark 1206 logomark.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / X = X's and O's
If our letters, cards, and notes are like paper hugs, a few X's and O's are like an extra squeeze.
The ABC's of Letter Writing / Z = Zip Code
The Z-stamp is all about the zip code, and 20002 is the zip code for the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C.
In 1963, in an effort to streamline delivery across the United States, the zip code was introduced. A massive campaign was launched to encourage people to add the five-digit code to mailing addresses. Mr. Zip was introduced to build awareness, appearing in advertisements, on products, and in comics.
Easy, fast, and efficient, zip codes are now standard procedure, enabling the postal service to route mail directly to processing centers for faster delivery.