This Tuesday is all about spreading the snail mail love and getting your friends and family involved in the action. Today's step toward never missing a card deadline will solve the "how do I get everyone to sign this on time" dilemma plus a whole lot of extra, creative fun that can be added to any card. Let's do this!
The first step if you have anyone other than yourself that needs to sign the card is to make sure it's out and available to them in advance. Because you set up your reminder system, you should have several days notice before the card needs to be mailed (well done you!). That time gives not only you the chance to fill out the card, but also a chance for you to stick it under the nose of anyone else that needs to write in a few words or just sign it.
My husband and I have set up this system: I'll write out the envelope, say a few things in the card, then leave him enough room to write his own message, sign it, and then return it to me to add anything further and then get it in the mail. What makes this process work so well is that we have a dedicated spot on the counter where we communicated to each other through notes, mail left out, personal items left there, etc. If he sees addressed envelopes and filled in cards on the counter, he knows that I'm asking him to sign the card and get it back to me, and vice versa. Find a spot in your house that is central and kind of in the way so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle. We tend to make sure at least the kitchen is completely cleaned up by the end of the night, so our counter spot is perfect for us as we will definitely take care of anything that is left on it within the same day.
This system can work for a home with multiple people or you could come up with a different one - the goal is to find a method that works for you and consistently do it so everyone knows what to expect regarding getting mail out on time. For example, if you have multiple children you can use the waterfall method: give the card to the oldest and when he/she is done filling out the card it's his/her responsibility to pass it on to the next, and so on until the youngest gets the card and knows that it goes back to you when it's signed. This works a lot better than having to stand at the counter yelling for each kid individually to come sign a card...
Another method, which works for homes with roommates or in offices, is to have a bulletin board of some sort in a central location and tack the card up with a pen next to it. If you're in an office, put it in the break room or have a dedicated spot and magnet on the fridge. Have roommates? Tack your card up on a bulletin board and just let them know you're mailing your card on Friday and if they want to sign it they can see where it is.
If you work remotely, a long but impressive way to get all your coworkers to sign a card is to simply mail it around. Similar to the idea of the oldest child passing it on to the next, this method requires you to set up a system where each person knows who to send the mail to next. My husband has a small group of people that he works with, all remotely, and I am so impressed with their dedication to celebrating each other's lives by taking the time to mail around a card (from west to east coast) for weddings, sympathy, new baby, and even a couple birthday cards have made the round. The time alone to orchestrate a coast-to-coast card signing process is heartwarming, not to mention the impact of personal, hand-written messages from everyone!
So those are some ideas on how to get people to sign the card, but what else can they do? I believe instilling a love of mail and writing is important from a young age, so I make an effort to let my one and a half year old daughter "sign" all the cards we send out. She loves to color so on the days I'm mailing something, I'll let her use a card instead of a coloring book and voila! Personalized artwork! Here are some more ideas:
- Artwork | This is great for anybody and from anybody! My daughter only goes to "school" once a week for an hour and a half, and already I feel like I have a surplus of art work from her. So instead of having it pile up and never be seen, I tuck her paintings and drawings in with birthday, thank you, thinking of you, and any other card I'm mailing (especially if it's to proud grandparents).
- Trace a paw | True story: the last time my parents moved cross country, my dad moved about six months before my mom to get started at his new job. Living in a new place alone and away from family, we all knew he would feel lonely so I made him a small picture collage of what he would miss the most: his dog. No joke. He framed it and still has it in his office. This is all to say that people really love their pets and if there is someone that really loves your pet, or you're pet sitting for a long time, have a little fun and trace the pet's paw in the card. It will guarantee make the receiver chuckle!
- School work | Do your kids have a test score or story they wrote that they're super proud of? Send a copy to their godparents or aunt and uncle! Or hey! Are you in school and have something you've done that you want to share? Send it in a card and let the person know why you thought they would appreciate it and why you want to share it with them.
- Multiple author story | This is a fun way to get kids writing or to get your own creative juices flowing. Send a card to someone with one or two sentences setting up a story. Explain to the person that they then need to write a few lines and mail it to someone else. By the time it gets back around to you about 14 people have written a few lines to create a fascinating (usually highly entertaining) patchwork of a story!
- Practice penmanship | If your roommate recently started doing calligraphy tell her you've got a great practice job for her and have her address a bunch of envelopes for you. Penmanship in general is improved with practice, so whether you're learning a new highly skilled art form or mastering your basic letters writing letters is a perfect way to get the practice in.
Getting yourself to remember to send a card can be hard enough, so when you think about trying to get an entire household or office to sign one thing it can be daunting. But coming up with a system that works for you and staying consistent with it is key to getting those cards from signed by one and sitting on the counter for months, to signed by all and brightening up the card-receiver's day.
We're getting down to last couple Tuesdays in this series, so be sure to come back next week to talk about the final steps you can take to never forget or miss a card mailing event. See you next week!