Timothy Rice

Send Your Friends Birthday Cards

It's easy and they love it.

For the part 3 years I’ve been mailing handwritten birthday cards to all my friends and overwhelmingly they say they love recieving them. I suppose they could all be lying to make me feel better. I speculate that in our age of digital communication, the value of a handwritten note has increased a lot, mostly owing to the percieved effort required to deliver them.

In reality though, writing and mailing a card very simple to do. I’m going to go over my process so that you too may be encouraged to send your friends cards on their birthdays (and other special occassions!).

Step 1 is figuring out when everyone’s birthday is. If you don’t already have all this information it will be the most tedious part of the process, involving a lot of texts to everyone you know. I store birthday data in my Google contacts, which should be easily exportable to other formats if I ever need to change my workflow. Make sure you collect their address at the same time if you don’t already have it.

Once all the information is collected, you need to establish some way of getting an alert prior to everyone’s birthday. I use this app, but the funcationality is baked into Google contacts by default now. Sorry Apple users, I have no idea what to do for you. You’ll want about a week’s notice prior to their birthday to make sure that the card gets there on time. Domestic (USPS) mail only. International cards usually show up late and require more advanced notice.

Last step is acquiring the materials. I buy my cards in bulk from Amazon. They run about $0.23 per card. Yes, they’re generic and unremarkable, but that doesn’t matter! As Marie Kondo says “the purpose of a card is to be received, because gifts are a means of conveying someone’s feelings.” And they’re going to throw it out right away anyways.

The cards I use.

You’ll also need stamps. I get mine at Costco. Presently they’re $0.68 per stamp.

Once you’ve got everything established, all that remains to be dilligent enough to write the card when your one-week pre-emptive reminder fires. I keep the cards, my pens, and stampes in my office, close enough to my desk that it’s not a burden to fetch them as soon as I notice my alert. You don’t need to write a lot in each card, I usually don’t commit more than two or three sentences. The important thing is that you make it personal.

As an aside, writing these cards has prompted me to re-learn how to write in cursive, I also write with a fountain pen because it’s just fun to use. which has been strangely satisfying! Especially weird as I spent most of the last 20 years arrogantly scoffing at the idea that handwriting would ever be something I cared about.

Once the card’s written you just have to address and stamp it and you’re done! Though you do need to remember to update the addresses of your friends when they move. I’ve found it’s easy enough to send them an address confirmation text while I’m writing the note. Sometimes I worry this will spoil the surprise of the card, but better that it actually gets to them in the first place.

That’s my workflow and it’s served me well for the last few years. My friends love getting the cards, and honestly, I really enjoy writing them. It’s very satisfying to put pen to paper and drop a note into the mailbox; it takes me back to my childhood when I percieved the world to be a slower and simpler place. I urge you to send your loved ones cards too. At $0.91 and 5 minutes of work, you can hardly find a more efficient way of creating joy.