Handwritten Thank-You Notes Have Surprising Consequences

In a recent piece on Psychology Today’s site, Author Christopher Bergland asks readers:  “When was the last time you sent someone a handwritten ‘thank you’ note of gratitude or appreciation?”

Throughout the article, Bergland references a fascinating new study on the underestimated benefits of handwritten letters and the importance of putting pen to paper. This study, “Undervaluing Gratitude: Expressers Misunderstand the Consequences of Showing Appreciation,” was led by Amit Kumar, Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Texas, and Nicholas Epley, Professor of Behavioral Science at the University of Chicago.

One of our favorite points from the research is how the action of expressing gratitude in a handwritten letter is proven to boost positive emotions for both the writer and the recipient; it’s a win-win situation!

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“We looked at what’s correlating with people’s likelihood of expressing gratitude—what drives those choices—and what we found is that predictions or expectations of that awkwardness, that anticipation of how a recipient would feel—those are the things that matter when people are deciding whether to express gratitude or not,” Kumar said in a statement. “What we saw is that it only takes a couple of minutes to compose letters like these, thoughtful ones and sincere ones. It comes at little cost, but the benefits are larger than people expect.”

Over here at Dempsey & Carroll, we always love reading about the positive feelings associated with handwritten letters. We invite you to read Bergland’s full post, “Handwritten Thank-You Notes Have Surprising Consequences,” so that you can get inspired to put pen to paper!


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For the Love of Script: The Importance of Teaching Cursive Writing in Schools

Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles shares his thoughts on the importance of script and how cursive writing should always be taught in schools.

I know there’s a lot of debate about teaching cursive writing in schools, but studies have shown that when notes are taken by hand (versus notes typed into a device), the information is much better retained. Furthermore, writing in cursive is fast and efficient, while block printing tends to take more time.

I can’t imagine someone not having a cursive signature. Though digital signatures are now legally binding when necessary, something important like a condolence letter should always be handwritten and sent through the post. A Facebook message or email is never acceptable for serious, life changing matters.


When I was searching for my last two jobs, I would apply electronically and then send a printed hard copy in the mail. I know that the electronic applications to several companies were completely overlooked while the printed ones got me in the door. At the bottom of those printed cover letters, you must have a cursive signature to finish it off. Following a job interview, a handwritten thank you note will be noticed and remembered far longer than an email.


Dempsey & Carroll always gets busy in the early fall with parents ordering engraved correspondence cards for their children. It’s school application time and those kids will all be following up with handwritten thank you notes after interviews. Cursive writing is a must if you’re looking to impress admissions at prestigious schools.

reply-card-1.jpgWhile a few of our clients do send digital save the dates, everyone sends a printed wedding invitation. As the recipient, you will need to send back a reply card, and a cursive signature is going to look very appropriate after that “M” prompt on many R.S.V.P cards.



If my child’s school did not teach cursive writing, I would teach it to her myself. Good social skills and dexterity never go out of fashion!



National Card and Letter Writing Month 2017

The U.S. Postal Service officially designated April as National Card and Letter Writing Month in 2001 “to raise awareness of the importance and historical significance of card and letter writing.”

We have always been strong proponents of handwritten correspondence and we firmly believe that there is no comparison to receiving a letter in the mail. In celebration of National Letter Writing month, the Dempsey & Carroll team has once again accepted the challenge of writing 30 letters in 30 days. Even if you can’t commit to writing a letter a day, we encourage all of our followers to pen a few notes to friends or family members who you have fallen out of touch with. Even if it is just a short note, the recipient will be thrilled to know that you took the time to think about them.


Write with us!

Throughout the month of April, we will have letter writing materials available at our flagship store at 1049 LEX for anyone who would like to take a few moments to write a letter. We have the paper, envelopes, writing utensils, and stamps; all that you need to do is write and we’ll send the letter off for you!

Letter Writing at 1049 Lexington

As a reminder, Our Annual Engraved Note Sheet Sale is taking place throughout the month of April for those of you who are fond of writing longer letters.

Get Social

Do you have a favorite place where you like to catch up on correspondence? Have you been practicing your calligraphy to add a special touch to your letters? Be sure to use the #nationalletterwritingmonth hashtag if you share any posts related to writing letters.Rumson Road

Don’t forget to follow  and tag us on social media:





National Handwriting Day 2017

Our handwriting’s just one of the many facets of ourselves.

January 23rd is officially known as “National Handwriting Day” as it falls on the birthday of John Hancock, the first person to sign The Declaration of Independence. The Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association started this holiday in 1977 to acknowledge the history of penmanship and to recognize the importance of handwritten notes.


We continue to celebrate the art of the handwritten note and the individuality of each person’s handwriting. We hope that this holiday inspires you to put pen to paper and join the tradition! We’ve included a few of our favorite quotes about writing below, though we look forward to hearing from our followers as well.



“And the idea of just wandering off to a cafe with a notebook and writing and seeing where that takes me for awhile is just bliss.” – J. K. Rowling

“Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.” – Isaac Asimov

“True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those who move easiest have learned to dance.” – Alexander Pope

 “Writing gives a sort of immortality to all other things.” -Richard Herring

“My two fingers on a typewriter have never connected with my brain. My hand on a pen does. A fountain pen, of course.” – Graham Greene 

Please feel free to share your handwritten notes on social media by tagging @dempseycarroll on instagram or twitter and using the #NationalHandwritingDay hashtag to celebrate with us.

Our 2016 John Derian Collections

We have ushered in autumn with the exciting launch of our second collaboration with Designer John Derian. Our five new collections pair classic Dempsey & Carroll motifs with decoupage prints from Derian’s extensive archives. Some of our Dempsey & Carroll team members have offered insight into which lines are their favorites, though it is difficult to choose just one. We invite you to explore our 2016 John Derian collections so that you can discover your favorites as well!

Carolyn: “My favorite is the Fly Fisher. I love the color story, but most of all, I love how it can resonate with a consumer. For me, it reminds me of going fly fishing with my family inhp4-091216-derian-web Colorado and I’m sure it rings true for many other people all over the world!”




Lauren: “My favorite is Earth & Sky.  I love the colors and the round globe motif paired with the round map of the sky. There is a lovely balance between the latitude and longitude lines in the engraved globe and the colorful envelope liner– I love it! I am planning to order a set of 50 personalized.”


Leo: “Earth & Sky is my pick. The celestial map envelope liner reminds me of a group of vintage prints that I have been collecting for years.  Astronomical maps seem to transcend time; at once modern and vintage.  The globe engraving is wonderfully detailed, a Dempsey & Carroll classic from the archive, and the gray engraving on white paper sets off a fresh mix and match with the envelope liner.”

Megan: “My favorite collection from the new John Derian collaboration is definitely Earth & Sky.  The stunning starry night liner coupled with the beautifully detailed engraved globe motif is a stellar combination to be used for any occasion.  I am already planning on having some on hand while I am traveling this Fall!”



Evon: “I am most attracted to the John Derian Grand Tour Collection. The liner prints all display an excellent use of typography and color. Additionally, the crops of the liners are dynamic, providing just enough insight into these historic hotels, but yet still leaving much to the imagination.”


Ariel: “I really love all of the new John Derian products, but my personal favorite is Blue Coral. I have always loved spending time in Florida at the hp1-090116-derian-webbeach, and the stunning coral artwork brings back amazing memories from my family vacations”




Emma:” It is difficult to choose a favorite, but I am definitely favoring Tea Salon at the moment. I love how it pairs our classic tea cup motif with John Derian’s vintage Frehp1-091216-derian-webnch architecture-inspired patterns for the envelope lining. This collection brings back memories of living abroad in France, where afternoons were often spent studying in baroque-style salons de thé.”





National Letter Writing Month

“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”  – Haruki Murakami

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The Dempsey & Carroll Team has accepted the challenge of writing one letter per day for the month of April in celebration of National Card and Letter Writing Month. We always celebrate the art of the handwritten note throughout the year, but we are taking this challenge as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family in the age of technology. It is always refreshing to see that people appreciate when time is taken to send a beautifully crafted note.

AJK stationery

We would love to see who else has taken up this challenge as well! Be sure to tag our Instagram handle @dempseycarroll and the #writeon and #dempseycarroll hashtags for the opportunity to be featured on our feed. Happy Writing!

The Lost Art of the Handwritten Note

Repost from our friend Yanik Silver:


Let’s face it, in today’s digitally wired society there seems to be a slippery slope of what passes for meaningful communication. Look, I’m as guilty as anyone. Actually, I used text to give condolences on a friend’s loss of her father recently. I can do better.

Going beyond a Facebook message, text or email and actually create a connection, with intention, is when something much more magical happens.

I’ve always known it. You have too.

And a handwritten note is one of those little things that makes a big difference.

I’m re-learning it starting with my kids.  I got the idea to put a drawing and note into their lunch boxes every day for school. It started in the last month of school and now it’s continued into camp. They love it. And the fact that they love it makes me want to continue to wow them with a few cute little drawings and my semi-funny (at least to me) captions.

Here’s how it started (he didn’t get the ‘groaner’ of a joke here):

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Then I got some cool sparkly gel pens and they evolved a bit. Here are the ones from the end of school:

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It really doesn’t take me too long and I love doing it since as a kid I wanted to be a cartoonist. I just Google some cartoon characters and then use that as inspiration.

It’s that handwritten quality that really makes it stand out. If you have little kids in your life, don’t their colorful notes mean so much to you? At Father’s day I got a handmade card from Zoe with a rocket ship on front since I’m going into space. And with instructions inside the card to color the page. I love it!


And from Zack I got a hand drawn card with a picture of me about how much he loves playing hockey with me. Priceless.

Everybody would love this…

There’s no reason I couldn’t do this in a meaningful way for people I want to keep and bring closer into my life too. Think to a time when you got a handwritten note from somebody it just meant so much more, right? I’ve got some notes from sales people or others I’ve worked with and they’ve always been elevated in my mind – but only if there’s a genuine and authentic nature to them. Not some cookie cutter “Thank you for your business. It was my pleasure to serve you, blah, blah, blah.”I guess better than nothing but not really meaningful.

Handwritten love letters

I recently sent my wife, Missy, a 3-page love letter from a 3X Maverick Multiplier Retreat in Chicago. We did a session at Lifebook with the Mavericks to explore creating and deepening your relationships. It made me stretch.

So at 3 o’clock in the morning I wrote out 33 reasons why I love her. Then I bought a cool wooden greeting card and popped it into the mail. It was a really incredible surprise for her to get the card with the note inside. I was away in Toronto on another trip and she told me she cried when she got it. Mission accomplished!

I’m not going to copy all of it here but you can see a bit of it. The amazing thing was writing it out I felt even more love and gratitude for who she truly is. It’s so much more than just buying a Hallmark card and handwriting in “I love you”. Try it some time.

I’ll also leave Missy little notes every once-in-a-while now too in random places for her to find. I used to love when she did that for me on trips. I’d find little post-it notes tucked into my socks or under a shirt when unpacking.

What about business contacts?  

Well wouldn’t you want to deepen those relationships? Of course. Part of what’s prompting me to write this was actually getting a text from one of our Maverick1000 members, Shelby Larson, ContentDivas.com. She had spoken at Underground and I wrote her a little thank you note afterwards. She said she still has it on her desk. That’s pretty cool! (Actually I showed Shelby a rough draft of this first post and she told me she’s been on a handwritten note campaign. She gets 5 out per week to different categories of people she cares about.)


Direct mailers have known that handwriting works incredibly well. Have you ever got a blank #10 envelope handwritten to you with a maybe a post-it note attached to an “article” that reads “Try this it works”.

These are called tear sheet mailings and there are massive mailhouses that simulate handwriting. I used to use handwritten addresses in my first mail order business and feel like it increased results. It could even be as simple as a personalized post-it note or maybe a little note on the bottom of your checks to affiliates. I still do that when I sign my own checks.

Or think about books. If you’ve ever had a book signed to you from an author don’t you get more meaning if there’s something handwritten beyond just their regular catch phrase? I love it when authors send me their books along with a little inscription if I’ve impacted their lives in some way. Richard Branson signed his latest book, Screw Business As Usual, to me with this:


There’s truly something magical about handwriting – especially if you put some of your personality and authentic heart into it. If you’re a doodler like me include some of your doodles. If you like to create bubble letters – go for it. If you’re into flowers and animals – why not add a few creative touches? Start creating more personal notes you can and see what the results are.

There’s no doubt in my mind you’d stand out using more handwritten notes– head and shoulders over anybody else. It seems overwhelming if you feel like there are 100s of people you SHOULD be writing notes to. Or feeling obligated to. Maybe it’s a hold-off from when your parents forced you to write horrible Thank You notes after your 8th birthday party or something like that but…

…Screw it.

Start with those who really touch your heart. Maybe it’s your kids or partner first. Maybe it’s to your parents or someone else in your family. Or to your most meaningful customers. Or pick a new random connection who you want to get to know deeper. Just a simple ‘Thank you’ but done with style would knock their socks off. It can be long or short. Funny or deep.

Also it’ll help if you have supplies and stamps handy at your desk, in your office, in your purse, etc. Get some cool note cards that inspire you. I bought my last set from Minted.com. They had quite a few whimsical designs I liked. Or if you’re a bit more formal you can’t go wrong with Smythson of Bond Street.

I just picked up a book, the The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication by Margaret Shepherd. It’s pretty good and you’ll pick a few tips from there and note starters.

Need another reason? Handwriting also provides all sorts of benefits to you aside from the reaction and impact you’ll get. Here’s a Wall Street Journal article how handwriting trains the brain.

To me it’s even more personal. I know with my handwritten journal entries there’s more meaning there than just typing on a computer. I believe your handwriting is directly wired to unite your head and heart.

Update: After I wrote this post- I sent out a handwritten note to my friend whose father passed away. She told me she read the note 3-4 times and it was extremely meaningful. That made me feel great, and I’ve been continuing with notes to people I really admire and haven’t really told. Once you start making this a habit – you won’t want to break it.

Just try it. I’d love hear what happens with your experiments and please drop me a comment to continue the conversation.

Handwritten Notes from the CEO

While in flight to Engage14, I stumbled upon Rodger Dean Duncan’s article entitled “How Campbell’s Soup’s Former CEO Turned the Company Around” on Fast Company. Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, practiced the art of the handwritten note to sincerely extend his gratitude and praise to his employees. Through several kind gestures, he deftly transformed performance gaps into opportunities to connect with his team on an emotional level.

When a leader extends praise and appreciation through a handwritten note, it is a moment to reflect. It’s a humbling experience to put pen to paper simply out of respect for the recipient. The private and intimate nature of a written note is far more compelling and showing of gratitude than a quick and easy email or text message.

Jennifer Pool,







An excerpt from “How Campbell’s Soup’s Former CEO Turned the Company Around” by Roger Dean Duncan:

In addition to putting in lots of steps, Conant did something else that’s unusual for a CEO. He hand wrote up to 20 notes a day to employees celebrating their successes and contributions. “I was trained to find the busted number in a spreadsheet and identify things that are going wrong,” he says. “Most cultures don’t do a good job of celebrating contributions. So I developed the practice of writing notes to our employees. Over 10 years, it amounted to more than 30,000 notes, and we had only 20,000 employees. Wherever I’d go in the world, in employee cubicles you’d find my handwritten notes posted on their bulletin boards.”

Conant’s notes were not gratuitous. They celebrated specific contributions. And because the notes were handwritten, they seemed to be treasured more than an email message might be.

Writing Away from Far Away

When you sit in a café, not a chain, rather a proper authentic café anywhere in the world you immediately feel immersed in the culture – the vibe of the city permeates all of your senses. The smell of the streets, the architecture, the temperature, the preferred culinary anchors – if you are receptive it can be intoxicating. It’s no different for me as I sit at the Parisian café, L’anticafé.


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L’ anticafé is not the average French cafe. Aside from lacking outdoor seating, it is not full of tourists or menus in multiple languages despite being tucked away in the 1st arrondisement behind the Louvre. In fact, it has no menu at all. L’anticafé differs further from the typical French café —  instead of paying a ridiculous sum for a small cup of coffee, you pay by the hour and can consume as much coffee or tea as you want.  They also have snacks and free wifi. So, for five euro, I selected a long wooden table that I had all to myself and ordered my first latte.


I pulled out my stack of stationery and envelopes and started writing to my friends back at home. As the waitress approached me with my latte she commented, “I don’t see young people writing letters often. It’s inspiring to see your papers instead of the screens everyone else in the cafe is staring at.”


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Personal communication – touching someone with more thought then the fleeting moment of a text is perhaps a universal craving. We have become detached. Rather than sending emails and text to my friends and family back in the states I write letters to them. I savor the time to share my experience in Paris in a thoughtful manner. No distractions, no clicks, beeps, popups – just me, my latte, pen, and paper.


Sammy Marrus



Give Better Thanks


dinner-table-636                                                                                                                                                                                                       (image: ivillage.com)

Oprah Magazine gives us some great tips for post-party thank you notes. Just in time for the dinner party season….

Kelly Williams Brown, author of Adulting, has devised a formula for handwritten notes based on the gracious missives she once saw pinned to a sorority-house bulletin board. “Start with the word you,” she says, “because everyone likes to hear about themselves. Then talk about what the person did. Save your thank you for the end. In other words, Dear Heather, You are an amazing cook. Not only was your salmon outragueously delicous, but your home is just beautiful. Arthur and I cant stop talking about how much fun we had. Thank you so much for inviting us. 

Grab the September issue of Oprah magazine for the full story. Cheers!