LETTERS FROM SPRITZBLUE
THANK YOU LETTER
I have a friend who fills at least two pages of A4 paper each time she's been to stay. She is hugely busy - two boys and a full-time job - and I have no idea how she finds the time. She goes into great detail, never repeats herself and is always very funny. (Frankly, I'm amazed she can remember her weekends with us, as she and her husband are always very thirsty and it takes all our stamina to keep up). My point is though, her letters are thoughtful and beautifully written. And even though we have to replenish our cellar after their visit, they are welcome any time.
As children, we would always be made to write for absolutely everything - no matter how big or small. Visits to old ladies in the village for limp egg sandwiches and watered down orange squash; playdates with friends whose ex-military fathers scared us witless, or being given re-gifted lavender drawer liners for Christmas. It was always a bit of a chore. But now, funnily enough, I get my girls to do the same (although, they've managed to miss out on the pleasures of afternoons tip-toeing round a house, hiding from a red faced colonel who doesn't like loud noises or small children). And, miraculously, through osmosis, they both write pretty good letters.
Making an effort is always good. The "Dear Auntie, thank you for my present, love from So and so" whilst better than nothing, is never received with huge enthusiasm. With a bit of thought and imagination, it's entirely possible to flesh it out slightly more. Mentioning the present itself and what you've done with it, whilst seemingly obvious, always works. For the less experienced or linguistically challenged, it can be hard to pad it out. But simple ways such as writing about how lovely it was to catch up, or the excitement of a future visit will fill a line or two and goes halfway there to making it sound that it really is from the bottom of your heart.
The greater the gratitude and effort taken in expressing it, is usually rewarded at the next present buying round. And likewise, when no letter is written, that person is in danger of slipping from the list entirely. My mother had a three strike rule. Of course, if the present is truly awful, then lying is the only response.
And it goes without saying, always hand write your note on beautiful stationery.
BEAUTIFUL & THICK
When I set up Spritzblue, it was with the aim of designing bold and beautiful stationery. But the design was only the half of it. I wanted to print my stationery on the thickest paper possible. Because there's nothing quite like the feel and texture of exceptional paper. When I pick up a fabulous card, but find it's on lamentably flimsy stock, my heart sinks a little.
We had moved back to the UK from Amsterdam, where there was no shortage of extraordinarily gorgeous stationery - I could spend hours in one of my favourite shops - The Posthumuswinkel - with its elegant displays and shelves of inks, stamps and paper. I was like a child in a sweet shop, and I've still yet to find anywhere quite like it here. From our new home in West Sussex there was nowhere local to find anything I liked. When in London, I'd nip to Selfridges and Liberty, and buy up arm loads of stationery boxes and brightly designed cards – some of which were even too nice to send. A full stationery drawer is a wonderful thing!
So, I tracked down the paper, and a local printer – it was important to me that I could keep a close eye on quality and that my footprint would be as small as possible. Everything I print on is FSC certified (Forest Stewardship Council), meaning all the paper comes from a fully sustainable source, and all from within the UK. And thus it began.
My designs continue to be simple and unfussy. I use a mix of coloured and textured ivory paper, and I love a bit of foiling. Each year I bring out new ranges, and each year, I print them on very, very thick card.
MY FAVOURITE THANK YOUS
I'm a terrible hoarder and have drawers full of some of my favourite thank you cards and letters. I've kept them for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes because I just like the card itself, and sometimes because the words inside are especially lovely, and sometimes because I'm just rubbish about throwing things away. My children write thank you notes to the tooth fairy and I've kept them with all their teeth in my knicker drawer... Again, I don't like putting things in the bin... Whilst recently reading an article, I came across some particularly unusual and charming thank you letters and it reaffirmed to me that you can write a few words in thanks for pretty much anything.
Even presidents find the time to write. Ronald Reagan thanked the people of the United States for making him president, and Barack Obama penned the following:
Mr. Martel —
My daughter and I just finished reading Life of Pi together. Both of us agreed we prefer the story with animals.
It is a lovely book — an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling.
(Signed, 'Barack Obama')
In 1977 Andy Warhol created another one of his famous screen prints and gave it to his subject.
I'm so proud I finally have your "Liz" and thank you for signing it so sweetly to me.
I do love you.
Elizabeth or Liz (of A.W.'s fame)
This is one of my favourites:
I must write a special letter and thank you for the dream in the bottle. You are the first person in the world who has sent me one of these and it intrigued me very much. I also liked the dream. Tonight I shall go down to the village and blow it through the bedroom window of some sleeping child and see if it works.
With love from, (Signed) Roald Dahl
And so is this:
Dear Mr. von Fuehlsdorff:
Thank you for your champagne. It arrived, I drank it and I was gayer. Thanks again.
My best, Marilyn Monroe
My all time favourite ones however, are from my two girls. Dear Mummy and Daddy, thank you for our wonderful holiday. We loved every minute of it. xxxx
ps. When's the next one?