How to Make Your Correspondence Singular

Several times a year, I open my mailbox to find a card from my friend Mayra. I don’t have to see the handwriting or read the return address to know it’s from her, because the envelopes are decorated in a unique way.

As a side note, which is relevant to this post, Mayra is the only roommate I’ve ever had. In the six-month gap between the end of a lease and a cross-country move, I moved into Mayra’s amazingly low-priced apartment situated above a Baptist church.

One thing I learned about Mayra during this time was her incredible generosity–how important it was for her to give, even when she didn’t have a lot. Each week, after depositing her paycheck, she would pay bills… then write checks to her favorite charities. Usually, the checks were just a few dollars, but her consistent contributions meant that several charities could rely on a nice little nugget from her every year.

Our apartment was littered with non-profit swag: coffee cups and tote bags, plus return-address labels and charity stickers to last a decade. At some point, perhaps aware that she would move onto a new home well before she could put a dent in her label-and-sticker stockade, Mayra started embellishing envelopes with a few stickers. This turned into a minor creative pursuit, and these days, I still get envelopes covered in stickers–sometimes seasonal, sometimes utilitarian, but always appreciated as her calling card.

Lately, I’ve been sending packages with the recipient’s last name spanning the entire envelope in script, with flourishes whose tails bleed off the sides. (I also do this for gift boxes by writing in Sharpie on Kraft paper or white boxes and adding little doodles.) People know when it’s from me, and decorating this way allows me to customize the presentation to the recipient’s taste and interests.

Here are some ideas for making your own signature look for correspondence:

  1. Stickers: Craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby are overflowing with incredible stickers now, since scrapbooking is en vogue and printing is more accessible than it used to be. Make your own seasonal cards or decorate envelopes with a signature sticker that you like. Or, work with a designer to create and print a custom envelope seal.
  2. Handwriting: Experiment with different styles of handwriting–cursive, block, drawn–until you find your favorite. Make it your go-to style for special-occasion mailings like holiday cards. When you address these in bulk, you’ll be perfecting the style until it becomes natural and expected.
  3. Packaging: An elegant, understated way of creating a signature look for your correspondence is using a specific wrapping paper or envelope for everything. Maybe you have a signature color (ooh, Tiffany blue) or favorite motif (peacock feathers?)… Buy envelopes in different sizes or wrapping materials in bulk and consistently use them.
  4. Rubber stamps: Find stamps that strike a chord, and use them every time you send mail. For a one-of-kind look, work with a designer to create custom stamps and a plan for their use.
  5. Trends: If you’re a fashionista or otherwise inspired by seasonal changes, become the person whose correspondence is always fashion-forward: Find a source for attractive, fresh materials  (like La Lettre de Luxe, for instance), and make sure you’re always stocked for the coming season. Unused stock can be stored, because we all know fashion trends are cyclical.
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