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“How handwritten cards became a lifeline between me and my loved ones”

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Megan Murray
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Papier is reporting a monumental surge in the sales of cards (overtaking the likes of Valentine’s Day, no less). Here, one writer explores why sending snail mail means more than ever, especially in a time of quarantine

I’ve always been a sucker for stationery. As a youngster, the beginning of every school year would see me stock up on notebooks with the prettiest covers. But as I got older, and friendships became a bigger part of my life, my fascination with papery treasures developed into a firm-rooted love of cards (and gifting my best pals with them at every opportunity).

This enduring love has woven itself through the tapestry of my life in many ways. I’ve spent hours perusing the card section in Liberty, buying designs for people whose birthdays may not be for months because a certain design was just so utterly them I had to. Then there’s the shoe boxes full of cards I keep under my bed (including one from mum on my very first birthday). For me, a card is a thing to be treasured. 

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Cards are special because they make an occasion or a moment last forever, immortalising the words of someone you care about at a certain time of your life, ready to be looked back on. 

When my partner and I had our first fall out, he wrote me a card to apologise and I really appreciated it. The act of walking to a shop to find one and taking the time to write down your feelings seems even more meaningful than just saying them. Equally, when my mum – another card fanatic – forgot to give me one on my 22nd birthday my bottom lip wobbled as I told her, “I care more about the card than the present.”

But although they are lovely to receive, it feels even better to find that prized picture which perfectly sums up what you were trying to say, and to make the effort to actually send it through the post. Imagining how excited your friend will be getting some ol’ fashioned snail mail feels good, doesn’t it? It’s what has spurred me on to continue sending Valentine’s Day post to my 10 best friends from school most years since I was at university, and it’s something the rest of the nation seems to feel sentimental about, too.

When was the last time you posted a card?

Not only do we love receiving a handwritten note (for example, this survey says 87% of millennials appreciate a physical letter or card), but sending them actually benefits our wellbeing.

Researchers at the University of Chicago and the University of Texas at Austin found that sending letters, especially those of gratitude, made both the sender and recipient considerably happier.

And now, in a time of quarantine when we’re more removed from our friends, family and perhaps partners than ever, it looks like we’re picking up pen and paper to cross the void.

Personalised stationery brand Papier has reported “unprecedented” levels of card and notecard sales since the beginning of self-isolation, showing how many of us are reverting back to nostalgic methods to make a fuss of our loved ones now that we can’t see them in person.

Holly Chapman, head of PR and community at Papier, said the influx was “heart-warming” and that epically, the amount of people sending cards on their site “outstripped Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and our peak Christmas period!”

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Similarly, illustrator Caz Watts has inspired lots of us to reach out and make someone’s day by sending them a little card to remind them that we’re all in this together. She’s started The Positive Project and for “the price of your morning coffee” (£2.50) has offered to send one of her designs, with a personalised message, first class to whoever you think needs a ray of sunshine right now. 

In her latest post she writes: “I am completely overwhelmed and over the moon with the response and feedback, I could cry. Lets keep the post going round and the vibes high!” Which just shows how many of us love the excuse to send something special to those we care about.

Not only is this unbelievably cute, but to me it makes total sense. Since being in isolation I’ve missed the birthdays of my mum (who you can probably tell I’m close to considering the amount of air time she’s had in this article – hi mum!), my absolute best friend and my most favourite auntie. 

None of them I’ll be able to see in person, hand over their present and give them a special birthday squeeze, so getting to the post office and taking the time to send something across the country feels like a way to show them that I care. 

Yes, cards have always meant a lot to me, but never so much as now when missing the people who mean the most to me is really starting to hit home, and occasions are passing that we’ll never get back.

Emails, texts and e-cards may be handy but they’ll never beat the sound of something landing on the doormat. So, thank you to all the women and men working on the postal service and helping us spread the love all over the UK when we really, truly need it most.

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Images: Papier / Unsplash 

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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