Think back to the last time you got a letter or card from a friend, and it wasn’t a special occasion like a birthday. Probably a long time ago, right? But isn’t it a magical feeling, discovering an unexpected hand-written letter sitting in your mailbox or on your doormat? Why don’t we do it more often? Why don’t you ask your kids to send letters or cards to their friends? It could really make someone’s day.
Few people think to send greetings through the post any more. It’s so easy to say ‘hi’ through social media that even the idea of sending an email, let alone putting pen to paper seems archaic and time consuming. But there remains something joyous about receiving a physical letter that just isn’t there with a string of ones and zeros.
We’ve set out below a few ideas of how you might go about sending that magical missive. The article coincides with Send a Card to a Friend Day (7 February), but there’s no reason not to post salutations at any time of the year.
1. Tell Someone How Much You Miss Them
The past year has seen us all isolated from friends and family. We miss them dearly. Until we can see them in person once again, the best way to show our affection is to send a letter or card. A short message wishing them well and letting them know how much you want to see them again is all that’s needed. A small doodle of your child holding hands with their friend will spread some bonus happies.
2. Treat It As An Educational Project
One barrier to sending cards and letters is the time it takes. We have to put effort into writing by hand, considering what to say, packaging everything up and then finding a post box. Plus, it costs money in the form of materials and postage. These are minor barriers, but barriers nonetheless. Too often we’ll think ‘Nah, can’t be bothered’ and reach for Snapchat instead.
But with many places still enduring lockdown and school closures, now is a perfect time to give letter writing a go. You can even treat it as an educational project, getting your child to plan out a letter, practice their handwriting, addressing the envelope, and then talking about how the postal service works. That way, you’re not ‘wasting’ time but making double use of it.
3. Use It As An Excuse To Get The Craft Box Out
Receiving a letter is wonderful enough, but getting sent a card bursting with creativity is something else. Use your imagination to fill the card with scrunched up coloured tissue, picture montages, reflective foil, coiled string, stickers, love hearts, stencils or anything else that takes your fancy. Just make sure the card doesn’t get too thick or it won’t fit the envelope (and will cost more to post).
4. The Best Kind Of Recycling
If you’ve got younger children then your house is very likely to be littered with rogue drawings, half-finished paintings, and ever-so-slightly crumpled craft projects that got left in the corner for the dog to chew. It’s tricky to know what to do with your children’s art. It feels a shame to throw it away, but you can’t possibly keep it all. One option is to give it a second lease of life, as part of a greetings card. Get your child to cut out the best bits from old drawings and paintings and reassemble them into a montage within a greeting card. Hey presto, their masterwork gets enjoyed by another person, who will likely treasure it forever.
5. Make A Really Wild Card
Here’s an activity that combines craft play with exploration of the natural world. The first thing to do is get out of the house and collect a few wild flowers, petals or leaves (note: if you don’t have your own garden, you can pluck wild flowers from the park, but only go for commonplace plants like daisies and buttercups). Then use a flower press, or a pair of heavy books to compress the flowers. You’ll need to leave them for a couple of weeks to get everything nice and flat. The flowers can then be appended to the front of a greeting card for a special surprise.
6. Other Crafted Cards
The Kidadl archives contain dozens of ideas for making imaginative cards. This list of novel ‘thank you’ cards -- including wax-resist and bunting cards -- can be adapted to any purpose. Alternatively, try some impressive folding techniques with these origami card ideas. Finally, this list of DIY birthday card ideas can again be adapted to other purposes, and includes tips on making pop-up cards, among other things.
Although originally from the Midlands, and trained as a biochemist, Matt has somehow found himself writing about London for a living. He's a former editor and long-time contributor to Londonist.com and has written several books about the capital. He's also the father of two preschoolers.