The art of the (love) note

I love Valentine’s Day. It’s not the candy, flowers and other commercial trappings that make this day special for me, it’s that the day is a celebration of love. A day when we take the time to express our affection for the people we cherish.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would write about expressing your love, gratitude and thoughts through handwritten notes.

The handwritten note is a lost art these days. More and more people send their thanks and notes via email, Facebook messages, even text messages. So, when you do write a handwritten note, you really stand out.

Think about how exciting it is to get a handwritten letter in the mail. It’s the first piece of mail you open. And, if you’re like me, that note gets saved for a while, unlike an email that is deleted as soon as you read it.

So, what keeps people from writing handwritten notes? I believe it’s a few things; one, not having the necessary supplies on hand, and two, not knowing what to say or how to write the note.

I too stumbled with number one. I would rarely have stationery or stamps on hand, so I’d put off writing the note until I could get to the store. But, by the time I’d get to the store, I’d feel it was too late to send the note, or the feeling had passed.

I solved this problem by ordering a large quantity of printed note cards from They have a wide selection of stationery and they print them to order. I like to order correspondence cards, or flat cards as they are also called, printed with my name at the top. Correspondence cards are just single cards that don’t fold over. They can be used for thank you notes, congratulations, thinking of you notes, invitations, etc. Whereas note cards – cards that open – are traditionally meant just for thank you notes.

I also get correspondence cards printed with my husband’s and my name. It is proper to put the woman’s name first. Thus, the cards are printed with “Arden and Eric” at the top.  If I wanted a more formal card, I could have it printed with our full names, “Arden Clise and Eric Mamroth”. If you share the same last name, the card would read “Mary and James Smith”.

The next key to writing handwritten cards is having stamps on hand. Be sure when you’re at the Post Office you get a few books of stamps. There’s nothing worse than feeling the love, writing a note and then having it languish while you continually forget to pick up stamps.

Writing the note is the next most daunting task for most people. Here’s a simple tip. Just feel the feelings and write it. When you write from the heart it will be perfect. One pointer I will give you if you want an extra special note, is if you’re writing a thank you note, try to avoid starting the note with “Thank you for…” It’s predictable and more about you.

Instead, think about the person you’re writing. Make the note about them. What makes him or her special? What was it about the gift, favor, referral that really moved you? Is the person or gift/favor/referral really thoughtful, creative, tasteful, interesting, talented, etc? Here’s an example of a thank you note I’ve written.

Dear Jane and Tom,

You are wonderful hosts; always making Eric and I feel so welcome and cared for when you have us over. We so enjoyed the evening. The dinner was divine, your friends were fascinating and the conversation was captivating. Thank you for including us. You are wonderful friends.


Note; if you are writing a letter on behalf of your spouse, you don’t need to sign their name, or have him or her sign it. Simply, make reference to your spouse in the note and sign just your name.

If worrying about how to write a note keeps you from doing it, stop worrying. Just write whatever comes to your heart. I guarantee it will be appreciated.

Thank you notes aren’t the only messages to write. I love to send congratulation notes to people for recognition, awards, promotions and media attention they’ve received. You can also send a note with an article enclosed that you think the recipient will enjoy reading. I have a friend who does this all the time. He is always top of mind with me because of this.

And today, Valentine’s Day, a love note is the perfect missive to write. One of my favorite love poems from my husband was one he gave to me many years ago on an unusually warm sunny day in May when I was joyfully singing around the house. He wrote, “Your voice and your smile are brighter than any record breaking day in May. Husband in love with his wife.” So simple, but so touching.

So sit down right now, and write a love note to someone you’re thinking about; whether it’s a friend, spouse, client, colleague or family member. They will be touched by your thoughtfulness.





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Arden Clise is founder and president of Clise Etiquette. Her love for business etiquette began in previous jobs when she was frequently asked for etiquette, public speaking and business attire advice by executives and board members. The passion for etiquette took hold and compelled Arden to start a consulting business to help others. Read more >>


  1. BettyEverittLochner on February 14, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Another great post and reminder that small things make a huge difference in relationships.  I’m going to have to share this one. Thank you!

  2. ArdenClise on February 14, 2013 at 10:26 pm

     Thank you for reading my post and sharing it Betty. It’s amazing how powerful a handwritten note can be.
    I hope you are well.

  3. BethBuelow on February 20, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    Arden, these are awesome tips… I will never start a card with “thank you” again! 😉 And I’m glad to know what “those cards that are just a card, without being folded, you know, kinda small” are really called: correspondence cards! I’ve always struggled (for some odd reason) to describe them to a sales clerk. Thanks to you, I can now avoid the clerk altogether and order beautiful ones online.

  4. ArdenClise on February 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm

     Hooray Beth! So glad  you can now order correspondence cards or flat cards with confidence, and write a beautiful thank you note on them.

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