Christmas letters and Christmas cards: Gifts for the heart

Christmas letters and Christmas cards: Gifts for the heart

Self-written texts are probably the most beautiful greetings at Christmas - because they forge a very personal bond between the writer and the reader. From prominent examples to tips for beginners: the best inspirations for lovingly handwritten surprises.

"Write again": this invitation, which was the title of a campaign by Deutsche Post almost 40 years ago, has lost none of its relevance. On the contrary: in times of increasing digital communication, handwritten letters are becoming more and more precious. After all, this good old analogue format of exchange enriches us again and again, in writing as well as in reading. Anyone who picks up a pen feels it right away: in addition to motor skills, our imagination, memory and emotions are activated. Because this unity of head, heart and hand is also communicated when reading, handwriting creates a unique connection between author and recipient. An emotional gift with which we can give our loved ones a lot of joy, especially at Christmas time and at the end of the year.

What connects us - and what we miss

What were the best moments of the past year, what did we laugh about?  We sorely missed common rituals and encounters at Christmas. Why not also address this longing? By the way: Many book authors and artists have also published Christmas poems. Perhaps you will find some inspiration there!

The postcard's big brother: an effort worth making

The Christmas postcard is still a standard part of the festive season in western countries. In Great Britain alone, over one billion copies are sold each season*. With wishes printed on it, it is a quick and safe thing to do, unlike a letter. Instead, personal lines can fill us with warmth or melancholy, send us back in time or into the new year. Christmas mail becomes very individual when you design the cover yourself. With great tutorials and the right creative tools, personalised one-of-a-kind items are guaranteed to succeed.

Handlettering Christmas cards
I love Handlettering! Get creative and design your own Christmas cards
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So the words flow by themselves

Not everyone has the wordiness of a poet, but when it comes to the tools of the trade, the following applies to normal writers as well as professionals: If you want to write a letter, it is best to use a fountain pen: Unlike a biro, for example, the nib glides smoothly over the paper when writing, enabling an even flow of writing and supporting the individual writing style. The Christmas letter from actor Richard Burton to his wife Elizabeth Taylor in 1972 shows how inspiring the right writing instrument can be: 

"It is no use pretending you are an ordinary woman. You are no more so than this fountain pen. Of course, I don't mean that you can be compared to a writing instrument. And yet, just like this magnificent fountain pen, you are heavy and light at the same time..." ** 

 

 

From timing to text alternatives: top tips for successful Christmas greetings

Letters first. Planning is everything: To ensure that your addressees enjoy your greetings in time for the festive season, send the mail as early as possible. 

 

The right atmosphere. In a creative environment, thoughts and words flow as if by magic. Just try it out and pick up your favourite fountain pen by candlelight, classical music and a cup of tea on the table. 

Speaking of inspiration: some publishers have works with Christmas letters by famous people in their programme, like these lines by the painter Paula Modersohn-Becker: "I have the feeling that one has to grow with Christmas. I feel as if the barricades that one has laboriously and so pettishly built against so many things and so many people are falling down... "**.

Rhyme like Ringelnatz. Many creative minds have written poems for Christmas and New Year. A reading excursion into the world of poetry makes you want to try it yourself. 

Connecting moments: A catalogue of questions helps to remember common history(s). What childhood experiences do we share? Which anecdotes, which family members are unforgotten? 

 

Individual approach. Overused phrases seem impersonal. Focus on what makes the bond between you and the recipient.

Pick up on current issues of the heart: What shared rituals did we particularly miss during the pandemic, and what can we look forward to again?

Relief for beginners. For cards with a self-designed cover, it is better to choose double cards with a loose insert - if something goes wrong with the text, the sheet can easily be exchanged. 

On cloud 7. "Wordcloud" instead of long sentences: Write the most important keywords about an esteemed person in different sizes depending on their importance and display them in a word cloud. The ideal decorative motif for a truly unique gift!

Prolong the Christmas spirit. It has been scientifically proven that we internalise handwritten words better than typed ones. This may help to achieve what Charles Dickens once said: "I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year round "***.

* https://www.england.de/grossbritannien/weihnachten/weihnachtsbraeuche
** „Habt alle ein schönes Fest und einen armen Ofen“, hrsg. von Petra Müller/Rainer Wieland, Propyläen
*** https://1000-zitate.de/thema/Weihnachten/

In times when nothing is as precious as genuine closeness and individual appreciation, love letters take on a special meaning. If you want to follow the original Valentine's Day tradition, give very personal lines on 14 February. Why emotional messages make people so happy - and how they can best succeed. 

Handwriting is unique - and uniquely emotional

Before flowers, pre-printed greeting cards and chocolate hearts became popular, couples celebrated Valentine's Day - according to legend the commemoration of the "patron saint of lovers" in the Roman Empire - by surprising each other with poems. To this day, messages written with pen and paper go straight to the heart, because our handwriting is so unique and always reflects our feelings. 

 

Own words touch the most

But how can emotions be communicated? Linguist Eva Lia Wyss has identified the most important quality of successful heartfelt mail: Authenticity. "It's better to be sincerely desperate than artificially cheerful," is her credo: if you want to communicate with your loved one, you really have to share something with them. So instead of using polished phrases, it's better to look for specific qualities that make up that very relationship. Whether it's a memory of the first time you met or a tribute to a certain wonderful character trait - the main thing is that the other person feels with every word: you mean me, us. 

Enjoying writing: here's how

Two factors are decisive: the ideal writing instrument - for letters, a fountain pen is highly recommended because it is lighter, more even and therefore often more beautiful than a ballpoint pen. And secondly, the flow, which we simply have to allow. When writing, you quickly notice that expressing your thoughts and feelings directly with a fountain pen activates not only your motor skills but also your imagination. You formulate in a more pictorial and multifaceted way and send your own creativity on a journey.

 
Straight from the heart: There are professional writers who can be commissioned to write love mail, but if you really want to reach the addressee, you have to rely on authenticity. The following applies: Don't be afraid of simple sentences - if it comes from the heart, simple is simply unbeatable!  
 

Quote instead of copy: A few (appropriately identified) lines from prominent word artists, on the other hand, act as emotional catalysts. Inspiration can also be found in "your" common song or favourite RomCom?

Speaking of "romantic comedy": For a successful dramaturgy, it helps to imagine the letter as a mini-script. What is my central theme? What do I start with, what effect do I want to achieve? Which anecdotes fit in? 

Delicate pastel, cheerful pink: what colours do you associate with your loved one's personality? Is there a favourite colour? Paper and ink in the corresponding shades provide the extra portion of emotionality. 

"I love you" in series: an original alternative to a letter: Write down individual sentences that are important for the relationship on Post-its and place the heartfelt messages where the other person is sure to look: Coffee machine, laptop, handbag...

 

Guide to happiness: Theletter as a guide: The first lines direct the recipient, for example, to the favourite bench in the garden or in front of the hanging cupboard with the holiday souvenirs. The rest of the text tells what these places and their details mean to the couple.

Two hearts, one letter: Why not write a Valentine's letter as a couple? This creates intimate couple hours and beautiful perspectives. For example, by writing down what you want to experience together this year. For resubmission on 14.2.2023!

Surprise: The joy of a letter starts the moment you receive it. Hide the Valentine's mail rolled up in a bouquet of flowers or have it delivered by the bike courier. 

Form follows emotion: Enrich your love confession with artistic elements in handlettering style. Tutorials and templates are available here:

Find even more beautiful words: If you want to dive deeper into the world of creative writing, you can be inspired by the offers for "Literary Writing and Cultural Journalism" at the Faber-Castell Academy (https://www.akademie-faber-castell.de/infoanmeldung.html).  Workshops and tutorials provide exciting impulses that extend far beyond Valentine's Day.