How to Make an Impression: Extraordinary Thank-You Notescomments (42) January 10th, 2011
One holiday, many years ago, I hand-made ornaments for everyone on my Christmas list. Then, I wrapped each ornament in tissue paper, fashioned the tissue paper it into the shape of a bird, and placed each one inside a small paper cube that I had carefully cut to resemble a birdcage. Then (to the consternation of everyone I gave a gift to that year) I glued the cages shut with paper adhesive. My hope was that each person would tear open their cage to get to their gift. Unfortunately, one after another of my friends and family refused to cooperate. "I don't want to ruin it," was the prevailing complaint, though it came in a number of variations. One person attempted to steam open the box—against my protests—and completely ruined the ornate clay ornament inside.
I couldn't fault my friends, of course. What they saw was only the finely cut paper, and they were loath to destroy it. I suppose it was a testament to their appreciation of my work that each of them was so adamantly against damaging—even a little—anything I had made for them. However, I had envisioned that the act of tearing open the paper cages would engender a sort of childlike glee in everyone and I had hoped that moment would be memorable. It was memorable, all right, but not in the way I had hoped. I nearly ruined Christmas that year.
|More card how-to projects:
• Make Button-Embellished Cards
• Make Fringe Flower Greeting Cards
• Make Cards and Tags with Stripes and Dots
• Make Greeting Cards with Recycled Materials
My tactic was a bit off the mark, perhaps, but my idea was sound. The way I saw it, I work with paper and paper is inherently emphemeral. Under perfect conditions, it might last a few centuries. Under less than perfect conditions, it will fade, yellow, become brittle, disintegrate into dust, and blow away in no time at all. I was trying to capture that fleeting, joyful quality that I associate with paper and somehow give that same experience to my friends.
The great thing about paper is that while it may be temporary, it can also be a tremendously effective medium for memory-making. By "memory-making" I don't mean scrapbooking or the related crafts that are so often lumped together under that name. Those crafts are more often about "memory-keeping" rather than "memory-making." I love paper's incredible power to surprise, delight, awe, get you noticed, and make you memorable. It is inexpensive and plentiful (not to mention biodegradable, recyclable, and reusable) and it can be both strong and delicate.
While I'll probably never tinker with Christmas again, I still try to put this temporary nature of paper to good use as often as possible. One of my ways of doing this takes the form of the humble thank-you note. These days, thanks to email, thank-you notes seem to have fallen out of fashion, but that's a shame. A friend of mine likes to say that a thank-you note is "the gift you give someone for sharing their time." In light of such a lovely sentiment, it seems a little miserly to simply dash off a note on a computer.
Granted, not every note merits the time and energy required for this project. But, on that rare occasion when someone's gone out of their way to give you a little piece of their day, why not give them a little of your day in return by crafting an extra-special thank-you note? In time, the paper it's written on may fade, but the sentiment never will.
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