Happy Mail: Put Together the Perfect Personal Correspondence Kit

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In the age of Facebook, it's a lovely treat to get a real-life, in-the-pulp card in the mail. A simple grocery store greeting card is more than enough to say "Happy Birthday" or "I'm Thinking of You." But for those who want to go the extra mile and send out little envelopes of love with every card, here's what I keep stocked in my happy mail stationery kit.

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Birthday Cards from Snow & Graham Chicago

1. A Greeting Card for Every Occasion

At some point during my college years, the Hallmark store at our local mall was going out of business. I left that day only $20 poorer, with a bag filled to the brim with majorly discounted greeting cards for every occasion. I'm still using those cards today. While I like to shop specifically for cards for very close friends or big celebrations like weddings, I love having a backup supply of cards for birthdays that sneak up on you, to honor the sudden loss of loved ones, or to send notes for no reason at all.

You can buy cards in bulk online, make your own to stock a supply (invest in a "happy birthday" rubber stamp!), or do like I did and keep an eye out for big sales at card stores and stationers.

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2. Personal Notecards

For every occasion when you're out of the appropriate greeting card, or when a card doesn't seem to apply, mail out messages on personal notecards. They don't have to be fancy or cost a lot, just a little personal stationery you can enclose along with a gift you're sending, or to say "hello!" to an old friend.

Here are some ideas:

  • Have a rubber stamp made with your name, or buy a stamp of your initial and use it to ink a stack of bulk-bought cards or a notepad.
  • Buy Luxe notecards from Moo. They're affordable, but the super thick card and edge color detail definitely impresses. Design your own, or use one of their stationery templates.
  • Hand-paint your own notecards with watercolor designs and a monogram. Even imperfections are part of the note's character.
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3. Fun Little Extras

You can turn a simple mailed card into a special treat by adding fun details inside the envelope. I always keep baker's twine on hand to wrap around the card before stuffing it in the envelope. I also love sending along birthday cards with a pinch of confetti inside the envelope, or in a little pouch like this valentine from The Creative Place. The sky (or 13 ounces) is the limit, but anything goes here. Try including deflated balloons, stickers or small trinkets (like a fortune-telling miracle fish).

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4. Vintage Stamps

The icing on the cake of happy mail is a thoughtful smattering of vintage stamps. It will cost a bit more than a standard Liberty Bell stamp, but getting a letter adorned with little works of art would make anyone happy to visit the mailbox.

Use a stamp dealer's catalog to pick out stamps you like, then search eBay for that stamp's Scott number, a unique identifier given to all U.S. postage stamps. You can often find vintage postage for at or near face value, and buying more than one sheet listing from a seller will help keep shipping costs down. Stash them in a drawer for the next time you want to really make someone's day with a simple letter.

(Image credits: Taryn Fiol; Snow & Graham; Moo; The Creative Place)

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