The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.

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Putting Pen to Paper 52 Times (A Letter Challenge)

Here at The Appreciation Factor I frequently extol the need for sharing your gratitude and showing appreciation, but I also talk a great deal about sending handwritten (thank you) notes over an electronic one.  (Check out my Thank You Note Category if you want to read more.)  There’s something about a handwritten note that immediately says to me, “They care a little more” or “Look at the attention to detail!” Candidly the fact that I mail 90% of my correspondence and hand-write my thank you notes is something I think sets me apart in a good way.  Think about it.  When was the last time you wrote or received a handwritten note? How did it make you feel?


You might want to consider writing one today, especially since it’s National Handwriting Day. (More on that in a minute.)


Many think it’s too much trouble to get everything together to send a handwritten note.  Or they may think it’s too time-consuming to send “snail mail” when it comes to the job search. (I don’t fully agree with this).  Or they’re stymied by poor handwriting or simply by a lack of what to say.  True, some people actually have horrific handwriting, but to me it’s worth putting pen to paper, no matter what your penmanship looks to show you care. In terms of content, if you write from the heart, are authentic, and/or show gratitude, you can’t go wrong.



The topic of handwriting goes deeper for me at the moment. Since the start of the new year, I’ve been thinking about writing more and sending more letters via the mail.  While I always write a handwritten thank you note after a job interview, I’ve wanted to take this idea further.  I’ve been thinking about taking on a letter-writing challenge.  The seed may have been planted/inspired by my interview with Of Note Stationers or perhaps it was last year’s 30 day letter writing challenge by Devoted Diarist  or maybe, it was the time this fall when Steph  from Postcards to Mom sent me a postcard from Portland, ME all because I said, yes when she asked who wanted one.   I’m not sure, but I do know that I want to set a goal of incorporating more appreciation and gratitude in my life this year as I know that the more I show and share it with the world, the more the universe will send it back to me. Who doesn’t want more of that?

What’s stopped me from kicking this off so far has been: how many letters to write, when I should start (e.g., Can I say I started January 1st and just catch up), and whom should I write to?  These questions were making me feel a little overwhelmed and as I’m leaning in a great book The 5 Second Rule the second after you think of a great idea, the mind conspires to stop you from completing it.  Yes it does!  However today when I saw a post on Twitter promoting National Handwriting Day it was a sign for me to take action.

History of National Handwriting Day

National Handwriting Day was established by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association in 1977,
as a way to reintroduce one’s self to a pen and a piece of paper. They thought it was “a chance to re-explore
the purity and power of handwriting.” – WOW that’s deep!
It’s also the same day as John Hancock’s birthday – the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence.

So you’re hearing it here first….

One of my goals for 2018 is that I am going to send 52 handwritten letters/notes in 2018.


  • Letters, note cards and postcards count. (Job interview thank you notes do not, nor does typed correspondence – unless I’m being kitschy and using a typewriter. Ha Ha.)
  • In each piece of correspondence,  I will try to instill or focus on my gratitude and appreciation. Is there something that I can genuinely express in my note? Wonderful, if it feels forced, I won’t bother.
  • Write the letter/note as soon as it comes to me.  For each moment that passes between the idea and putting pen to paper means the less likely I’ll be to write it.
  • Aim for surprise and delight.  I also hope to surprise some of my recipients.   I think surprise mail – those pieces which are unexpected and/or out of the blue, but which really seem to make someone’s day, is the best kind of letter to receive.  Sometimes it’s just noticing the other person is alive is what means so much.
  • Write more than just thank you notes.  Just because I’ll be including my gratitude and appreciation will not mean that every letter is thank you based. A Just Because card is great too!
  • Don’t expect  to hear/receive a card/note back. The goal is not to collect letters, nor does everyone want or like to write letters. That’s OK. This #52Letters goal is for me.
  • Write 1 love letter. I want to include at least one of these and I always love an extra challenge.
  • Be Creative. While I’ll never be Devoted Diarist (see below) with her stylized envelopes which I covet, I will write neatly (hey undertaking  the challenge will improve my penmanship) and I’ll be creative where I can and perhaps with the chosen recipients.

    Source: Devoted Diarist
    Iris Apfel (in glasses) Card by @tay.ham








The handwritten note is powerful.  It becomes a literal piece of history and in many cases a cherished piece of correspondence or love letter.  The simple task of writing a note will also help slow me down and be deliberate in my actions.  I’m looking forward to sharing more love and gratitude in the world as simply sharing it also makes me feel good.  I’ll provide updates or tweets on my progress so you can see how it’s going.


PS:  This is my 100th post and on a topic that’s near and dear to my heart.  Thank you for being along for the ride, these almost 6 years. (1/31 is my 6th anniversary.)  I’m so grateful for your support, encouragement, patience, ideas, and appreciation of my little piece of the blogosphere.    If I could send you all a handwritten thank you note, I would.
Thank you,



An Electronic Thank You Note Even I Can Love

As someone who appreciates the hand-written thank you note, I sometimes feel left behind as more and more people use their computers and phones for their primary communication.  However, I understand the need to be flexible and adapt where necessary, especially when the only contact option I have is an email.  It was on this track that I went in search of an impactful thank you note that had the following criteria: it was email friendly, free was ideal, and something similar to what I would send in the mail — icing on the cake.  I found everything I wanted at Punchbowl* and just had to share it with you.

I located this site several months ago when more and more of the traditional card companies’ sites were starting to require paid subscriptions to send electronic cards, and honestly, I didn’t think that the options were really all that great.  Unlike the flat static or whimsical cartoon animation I found on sites like Hallmark or American Greetings, Punchbowl offers a classic square card image encased in a color-coordinated envelope complete with postage stamp. The bonus in this case, clever animation that mimics the actions you would take when you open a snail-mail card.

Here’s a sample of how it works: 

In addition to thank you notes, the site offers greetings for birthdays, “just because” cards, ones for standard holidays like: Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Rosh Hashanah, Father’s and Mother’s Day, as well as non-traditional ones like: April Fool’s Day, Earth Day, and even Talk Like a Pirate Day (that’s on 9/19 in case you were wondering) and more.


Need an email reminder for your special dates, a party theme idea, help with planning a party or party supplies?  Punchbowl has you covered here as well.

*Note:  You can opt-in to a paid subscription to have great editing capabilities and more card choices, but to date my needs have been met by the wide variety of free options available on the site.  (So many more than those I’d found on the traditional greeting card websites.  While I expect to see an increase in interest/use of Punchbowl, I hope they’ll continue to offer the quality and large variety of free options.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

12/1/2014 UPDATE 

When I visited the site today I found that Punchbowl now charges and limits what you can do there with a free/basic “membership.”  Since I used it extensively, this presents some challenges.

I was working on my holiday cards, and finished my first, only to find that I COULD NOT:
1. Schedule a Later Date. (You must email same day with their new policies).
2. You cannot send more than 10 cards in the same month. (I can send up to 50/month- if you pay $39)
While I loved these cards and the site, I’m not sure about the $39 fee. I prefer to hand write my cards as you know, but sometimes you simply need electronic versions (to make that impact.) However, at this time I really don’t have the volume/need to send 50 cards/month that would justify the new monthly $29 fee.

Wanted to make sure you had an update in regards to fees and “volume” if you like the electronic versions.

Have you found other sites like Punchbowl that pack a punch when it comes to
electronic greetings?
Would you prefer a hand-written note or one sent electronically (like these),
or a simple text email?