Get organized for sending cards, thank-you notes and well wishes. via

This is hard for me to say, but I’m sharing it anyway because it’s the real reason I’m creating a tickler file system for greeting cards. I recently had someone close to our family tell me my children are rude because they never send thank-you notes. Ouch. Ouch.

You know why that hurts so much? First, it’s true. (Well, it’s partially true. They are not rude children on the whole, but it’s true about their failure to send cards.) And second, it’s my fault. They are young, and as their mother I have not set a good example nor have I insisted this is something they must do. I generally have encouraged them to thank the giver in person. Growing up in my family, that was always enough, but as an adult I realize this isn’t the norm for everyone.

My problem goes beyond thank-you notes, though. I have a sweet friend who should own stock in Hallmark because she is truly the greeting card queen. She loves choosing cards and sending them, and she enjoys writing and mailing notes to people. I am not her. That’s just not my thing! While I think it’s OK that this isn’t my strong suit, I really do believe that my close family and dear friends deserve to receive lovely cards and notes on occasion. Plus, I know my family and I have fallen off peoples’ lists because of our failure to reciprocate.

I don’t like admitting these shortcomings, but the truth just plain hurts sometimes. I can either get upset and beat myself up, or I can learn from these experiences. I’m trying to learn and let all of this fuel me for change. Rather than just wanting or wishing to do better, I spent some time thinking about what stops me from sending cards. Why don’t I send prompt thank-you notes or honor people with birthday cards? I brainstormed my obstacles and looked for solutions.

Obstacle #1: Inconvenience

My mail and greeting card supplies are too far removed. It’s all stored in a closet off our office space in the basement. That is a smart place for office supplies, but it’s too far out of the way of everyday life.

Solution #1: Create a greeting card mini-zone near the hub of family activity so it’s easier to get the job done.

I picked up a desk organizer with holders for files, pens, stamps, and miscellaneous cards and envelopes. While a traditional tickler file has a folder for each day of the month, I simplified mine and have one folder for each week of the month. It fits next to my Command Central Binder on our kitchen counter, right in the hub of family life.

Tickler File for Greeting Cards

Obstacle #2: Lack of Dates + Addresses

Before now, I have not had a comprehensive list of close friends’ and family members’ birthdays and anniversaries. Instead, I’ve got some memorized, some popping up as Facebook notifications, and some saved in my online calendar.

Solution #2: Create one master list of family members’ and close friends’ birthdays, special days and anniversaries.

My list includes mailing addresses so that everything is organized right where I need it. I’d love to find an app that helps me with this, but for starters a printed spreadsheet will do! There’s actually a great pocket on the back of my tickler file to hold this document.

Obstacle #3: Forgetting

I tend to remember birthdays on the actual date, which does me no good when it comes to snail-mailing a card.

Greeting Cards for Tickler FilesSolution #4: Shop for cards in advance. 

I’m stocked with thank-you notes and blank cards, plus a few “congratulations” and “thinking of you” cards. Unlike birthdays and anniversaries, there’s not always advance notice for needing those types of cards. In my Week Three file folder, I have a reminder note to shop for the next month’s cards. With my master list in hand, I will buy greeting cards a month in advance. Once I fill them out and drop them into the appropriate folder, I simply drop them into the mail at the beginning of each week.

Obstacle #5: Shipping Logistics

I have some sort of disconnect about shipping packages. Honestly, I don’t know what this is, but the process of getting a gift packaged, addressed, and to the post office is more than I can seem to manage. For example, last summer I had a package to send my Dad that sat in the shipping envelope until I finally hand-delivered it to him at Christmas. Good grief!

Solution #5: Opt for gift cards rather than trying to mail a package. 

As long as I’m being honest, let me just say this isn’t likely to change, so I’m letting myself off the hook. No more packages. It may be less personal, but a gift card that the recipient actually receives is far better than the loveliest of gifts that sits on my desk until it’s 5 months belated! And if I simply must send a package for some reason, I will enlist the help of my dear husband who is wonderful about actually getting this done.

If you have obstacles that prevent you from being great with greeting cards, leave me a comment. Also, does anyone know of a great app for tracking birthdays and special dates and also integrates contact information? I’d love to hear what works for you!