Axios Finish Line

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1 big thing: Cards that count

Illustration of directions showing how to fold a greeting card into a paper airplane

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

Physical thank-you notes are an endangered species, as many of us switch to texts or email β€” or just ditch the courtesy altogether.

  • Why it matters: Jotting a quick note makes you stand out more than ever. More importantly, the recipient will be surprised. They'll feel good about themselves β€” and you.

πŸ–‹οΈ Dwindling thank-you notes go hand-in-hand with the decline of greeting cards, Axios' Nathan Bomey writes.

  • CVS, Walmart and other retailers have reduced floor space devoted to greeting cards. Card sellers Papyrus and Paper Source filed for bankruptcy.

"It's hard work to go and find a card, write it, go and find a stamp," says Emily West, a UMass Amherst communications professor who studies greeting cards.

  • "It's like: Who has stamps?"

But for many occasions, a text or social media DM doesn't cut it, says Danny Groner of New York, who was tickled to get a thank-you card from his boss at venture capital firm Forecast Labs.

  • "Getting an unexpected handwritten note waiting for you at your desk for no reason at all just meant a lot to me," Groner says. "These are the things that stay with you."

πŸ’­ Finish Line's thought bubble: We've written β€” and heard from you β€” about the outsized power of small acts of kindness, including thank-you cards.

  • Even if writing and mailing these cards is going out of style β€” especially among younger people β€” it's still important to make sure your "thank yous" to family, friends and strangers are loud and clear.

πŸ’‘ Pro tip: Keep it short. President George H.W. Bush would dash off a quick note β€” even one sentence β€” on a one-sided card. His son, President George W. Bush, kept up the practice (often with a Sharpie), instilling the custom in a generation of Washingtonians.

The bottom line: If you jot out one sincere, personal, specific sentence, you've given one of life's cheapest gifts β€” making someone feel good.

πŸ“¬ We want to hear from you!

When was the last time you sent a thank-you card? The last time you received one?

  • Do you think we ought to keep writing and sending these cards?

Send us your thoughts along with your name, hometown and generation (Silent Generation, Boomer, Gen X, Millennial or Gen Z) to [email protected].

  • We'll include a selection of replies in a future Finish Line.