Canoe races. Fireside s’mores. And, of course, letters home. No care package was complete without a note from mom and dad (and Gummi Bears), so we thought we’d offer a few tips on how to craft the perfect summer camp letter, as well as stationery sure to make you the talk of the ice cream sundae social.
Crane & Co. has been advising enthusiasts of classic correspondence for more than a century. In our archives is proof of this: petite, elegantly covered books boasting topics such as “Visiting Cards for Men” and “Country House Stationery.”
Some advice — the importance of thank you notes, the use of “honour of your presence” for a church wedding to name a couple — has proved timeless. Other advice, however — addressing wives who are also medical doctors, a brides’s monogram using a hyphenated last name — has been added, updated and, sometimes, scrapped altogether.
While we value tradition, we also embrace the kind of change that still feels correct and special. And so when online invitation purveyor Paperless Post approached us to partner on a collection of wedding stationery suites, we made sure that every design was a perfect blend of the online invitation company’s fresh, modern aesthetic and our timeless, classic elegance.
When Wedding Guide magazine contacted us to ask us a few questions about RSVP etiquette, we of course happily obliged. After all, receiving — or, rather, not receiving — responses from invitees is an issue most couples find themselves dealing with, and considering we wrote the book on wedding etiquette, it was only appropriate that we weigh in…
Our Crane Concierge spends her days offering etiquette advice of the epistolary variety to brides, businesses and everyday correspondents alike. We thought we’d share a handful of recent queries. If you have a question for our Concierge, email her at email@example.com.
How do I include a nickname with my name on stationery? I am known by the nickname in my community, i.e. Susan Hindle (Su) George. Would this be acceptable? Or is there a better way?
If your correspondence will be mostly personal and not professional, I would suggest using your nickname (Su George), as this is the name your friends and family know you by. If, however, you will be using it for professional stationery as well, I would suggest using your given name and — for your personal notes — signing with your nickname.
Love is in the air. And, hopefully, on paper. Dozens of the finest roses and boxes of the most decadent chocolate can’t top a beautifully crafted love letter. Here’s how to create an amorous ode that’ll capture her heart forever.
It may seem obvious, but don’t write a love letter unless you’re, oh, in love. If you’re not in that point in your relationship yet, don’t force it — better to share your desire for a romantic trip to Paris when you actually want to take one.
Leah Dieterich is gracious every day. It isn’t that she is regularly showered with gifts or good deeds, but rather the thxthxthx.com founder is just thankful for the little things: Tote Bags (“for being gender-neutral purses”) and a New Longboard (“for allowing my afterwork exercise to be considered play”), to name just a couple.
Her notes of gratitude can be followed on Twitter and read in her new book. Here, Dieterich talks with us about long distance letters, being a lefty and why a signature is her favorite part of the writing process.
As a child, Annie Dean’s grandmother would encourage her granddaughter to practice handshakes and such polite phrases as “How do you do?” So it was inevitable, perhaps, that this month the 27-year-old Manhattan-ite launched The Elements of Style, a blog celebrating “etiquette, entertaining and everyday glamour.”
There, purveyors of all things proper will find everything from classic cocktail recipes to cleaning tricks. Here, you’ll find more interesting tidbits about Annie, such as why she favors unlocked doors and why there isn’t an etiquette rule she wouldn’t break.
When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
My mother required me to send thank you notes since before I could sign my name. In the beginning, I would dictate. I also loved receiving letters from my grandmother even as a very little girl, but I could never read her cursive! The funny thing is my handwriting looks just like hers now.
Why do you enjoy writing correspondence?
I love to write. And I love the good things in life. Stationery and letter writing add loveliness to life for all types of people in all types of situations. When you take the time to write a letter you take the time to share something genuine of yourself, which isn’t that common.
What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
Dropping it in the mailbox!
If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
Probably Mozart. I’d ask what it sounds like in his head. Does he hear the instruments one at a time? Or is it a symphony right from the start? Is it loud? Does he hear it in spurts? I’d like to talk to a lot of people, though. I have a lot of questions.
To whom do you most often write?
Well now, to my readers on The Elements of Style. But in terms of handwritten notes, I send thank you notes to all sorts of people all the time. Many notes of thanks for dinners or little gifts (we entertain a lot so we receive many). I probably send two per week.
Describe the most memorable letter you have ever received.
My husband and I met because we were both tenants in the same building (our doorman set us up!). At that time I was in law school and always in and out, and had a tendency to leave my apartment door unlocked. In the first month that we started dating, Peter rushed out to buy Crane stationery (he thought it was the most classic!) and a calligrapher’s pen and practiced writing script. I found the scrap paper with a cursive alphabet! He would write me little notes and leave them in my apartment, sometimes with flowers or little presents. I know I should have locked my door, but after that I just couldn’t bring myself to make it a habit!
What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Oh you can tell right away when it’s a ‘real’ letter, can’t you! A ‘real’ letter on true stationery is a heavy enough weight that you can’t see through to the contents inside. The paper is much nicer than the rest of the envelopes and junk mail stuffed into your mailbox. It isn’t loud or trying to grab your attention. And so you notice it in an instant.
Do you have a favorite stamp or stamp series?
I’m a sucker for anything that features a President or a First Lady. There is a Miles Davis/Edith Piaf series out right now that I adore.
What makes your correspondence distinct?
I’m not a “Dear David, Thank you! Love, Annie” kinda gal. I really like to spend the time to write a real letter each time I send out something in the mail. I also have a very specific way of signing the return address on the back of each envelope, using a signature of my husband’s last name and our address printed in capital letters.
What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I think that as we move into a more overtly digital world, tangible luxuries will come into greater favor. I couldn’t live without the Internet, but there is something so special about buying stationery, thinking about a note, writing a letter, signing it. I think more and more people will connect with writing things in ink as time goes on. We’ll be desperate for permanency.
What is the one etiquette rule you will never break?
Rules are made to be broken. The purpose of etiquette is to learn how to break them with grace.
Have a question for Annie? Email our Crane Concierge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are some of our favorites, some that we get often and some might just want to tuck away for future use. (After all, you never know when you might need a formal font suggestion.)
“I would like to order some personalized stationery for three of our executives. I would love to have a system where they could use the same envelope for a note or a thank you card… (they don’t want to think about which envelope to use with which item).”
Thank you for your query and for considering Crane & Co. for your personalized stationery. I would suggest choosing Monarch size letterhead for their sheets, which would use the same envelope as a monarch flat card.
Love & Letters,
The Crane Concierge
With a degree in sociology under her belt, Diane Gottsman knew teaching etiquette was a logical career path. She started out teaching abused and neglected children the art as a way to empower them, then moved on to helping the professional sector. As if to emphasize her love for the cause, she now boasts her own line of stationery (welcome to the club!). Here, the purveyor of all things proper talks stamp love, Amelia Earhart and the etiquette rule she’ll never break.
How long have you been teaching etiquette and how did you end up doing so?
I’ve been teaching etiquette for 15 years, starting with children in the beginning and later evolving into the corporate and university arena. I was shocked at the number of successful professionals that I interacted with daily that were truly gifted in business but lacked social skills.
Mindy Lockard, aka The Gracious Girl, can’t remember a time when she wasn’t interested in etiquette. The former finishing school graduate began spreading the gracious gospel professionally nine years ago, pontificating on everything from dinner party manners to interview poise. Here, she speaks to us about her college pen pal, e-mail formality and why she’s always touchy-feely with her paper.
How did you end up teaching etiquette?
It was just after I had my first daughter, Elle. A friend — who knew I had gone to finishing school as a child — asked if I would teach her daughter. At first I declined, but then after I thought about the life lessons I wanted to give my own child — confidence and kindness — I knew that spreading the word about manners was exactly where I wanted to focus my attention.