The #1 Obstacle to a Good Note

The #1 Obstacle to a Good Note

After writing two posts last week on good stationery and how to write a thank you note, I was eager to get out to my favorite stationery stores so I could do a little exploring.  I love looking at expensive note cards, even though in practice I rarely find myself capable of coughing up the $24-for-a-pack-of-ten price.

I scheduled my jaunt for the following week.  But in the meantime, something unexpected happened:

I had to write a formal thank you note.

And I had no proper stationery.  (Gasp!)

And this from the woman who wrote the following just last week:

And if you don’t have any thanks to send out at the moment, plan ahead so that you are prepared when the time comes.  Stock your desk with stationery, pens, and stamps.  Being thoughtful often comes down to being prepared.

Dear readers, I was not just a little unprepared.  I had nothing!  And with a thank you note, time is of the essence, and I didn’t have the time to gather my supplies.  Here’s what I needed–and how I came up short:

  1. Proper stationery. I had flowery, colorful cards on hand, but I needed something formal to suit my purpose.
  2. Pens. My current favorite pen for this sort of thing died over the weekend, and I didn’t have a spare.
  3. Stamps. I have lots of stamps at my house.  They are photostamps, and I didn’t want to send a thank you note with a stamp bearing a picture of my baby (left over from baby gift thank yous) or a china tea cup (left over from tea party birthday invitations).

Luckily, I had already planned to go to the stationery store.   I went, I browsed, I enjoyed looking at the expensive cards and small gifties.  They sold a huge selection of Trapp candles.  (I’ve never tried the home fragrance spray.  Opinions, please?) I also found a paperwhite scented candle from Hillhouse Naturals.  My mom forces bulbs every winter, and this candle smelled just like them.  My daughter was obsessed with the small monogrammed mirrors and bejeweled pens.  And they even had plastic Kentucky Derby jockey hats!

But I came to buy stationery, so I moved on to the huge selection of Crane notecards.  These were my favorites:

These cards by Crane were all delightful, but I got hung up on one small detail:  the words “thank you” were printed on the front, and my grandmother taught me that a proper thank you card contained your sentiments on the inside, and shouldn’t have the words printed on the front.  (I know, this sounds ridiculous!  Nowadays even Emily Post says this is fine, but I was hesitant to do it for a formal thank you.  For any other thank you any of these would have been perfect.)

But the plain cards were boring.  What to do?

(See what I mean?  Boring.)

If I needed a card with a little more pizazz, Crane makes plenty of those.  But that’s not what I needed.

Well, I decided if I was going to buy boring stationery, I may as well look at Target.

Fatal mistake!

Target excels in the area of $2.99 for 8 cute-but-cheap cards, but they don’t have a thing in the area of plain formal stationery.

So the next day I visited another local stationery store, walked in, grabbed the first pack of boring Crane ecru cards I saw, and left.  (After a quick peek around, of course.  They also had lots of cute cards I didn’t need.)

I bought my stamps from the cashier at Whole Foods, dashed home, stole a new g-2 bold tip from my husband, and got my thank you note in the mail (48 hours late).  Whew!

The #1 obstacle to a thoughtful card is not being prepared.

Don’t let this happen to you!  Writing a thank you note does not have to be that hard.  Buy yourself several kinds of note cards, a good pen and some forever stamps and stash them away, because the day will come when you will be glad you have them.

Plan to be thoughtful, and lay away a stash of supplies–before you need them!

Card images from

header photo credit: Gene Han

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6 comments | Comment


  1. Damsel says:

    Great post! I love writing thank-you notes. There’s just something so elegant and classy about them. I love knowing that the recipient will be surprised to get it since hardly anyone actually writes them anymore. I taught high school science for four years at a private school, and the parents were so generous every year at Christmas and for teacher appreciation week. I wrote thank-you notes for every single gift, even (or perhaps especially) for the letters they wrote to me. I truly enjoy showing my appreciation, and a thank you note is the perfect way!

  2. Mrs. Zwieg says:

    Thank you notes are so beautiful! I really need to get better about handwriting them as well as letters. Thank you so much for this post!

  3. Mrs. Q says:

    Oh, yes. Writing thank you notes is so important! It almost seems to be becoming a lost art. I have some thank you notes to write myself, so thanks for the tips.

  4. MelanieB says:

    I’ve been putting off a couple of thank yous that I owe for months now in part because of the lack of good stationery. It seems that no one these days carries letter paper and matching envelopes. It’s all note cards, which are great for a short thank you but for my purposes I actually owed a longer note at least if not a short letter. And I had nothing to write it on except notebook paper which was too informal. I couldn’t find anything at Target and I don’t have a nice stationery store near me that I know of. So I found some pretty letter paper at Amazon that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Just thought I’d mention that in case anyone else was having the same frustration.

    • Anne says:

      It’s funny to read this, because I have gorgeous Crane letter paper that’s been sitting around for ages–all I ever want to use is notecards! We could swap 🙂

      Glad to hear letter paper is also available on amazon. I love browsing stationery stores–but I also love how quickly I can cross items off my to-do list with a little online shopping.

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