LETTERS OF CONGRATULATION: RULES OF THUMB
Posted on August 07 2019
“Success depends less on strength of body than upon strength of mind and character.” -ARNOLD PAMLER
Words on paper make the best pat on the back. Although many people’s lives are filled with more than enough gifts and parties, most still hunger for the personal words of their friends and family to help them celebrate a birthy, graduation, marriage, or achievement. Your personal letter of congratulation can add something unique to any event. Whatever the milestone, don’t let it pass by without writing a personal letter.
RULES OF THUMB...
- Mention the happy occasion, the honorees, and the date and place, and emphasize the importance of the milestone. Include specific details about the person and the event.
- Congratulate people for their intentions, hard work, or perseverance, not just their good luck (a retirement or major birthday is partly about effort, but it’s also about fortitude.) Congratulate children appropriately, emphasizing their effort rather than their fame, their pride more than yours. A well-written letter of congratulations adds to their long-term understanding of the civilized use of the written word.
- When sending anniversary wishes to a couple, your letter should be about each of them, their relationship with each other, the occasion, your relationship with them, and connections in general. Tell them how much you value the connection you all share.
- Make it personal. The format for a letter of congratulation should match the important nature of the message. Show that you’ve put in effort to celebrate his or her achievement. A handwritten letter reflects the permanence and effort of the occasion. Although congratulations conveyed by e-mail or telephone can deliver the initial “hurrah,” they don’t compare to a tangible letter. Commemorate an achievement by writing a keepsake.
- Choose materials that, depending on the event, look festive and bright or elegant and formal. Whatever paper you use should be durable, because your letter may be archived to be read again in the future.
A SAMPLE LETTER FROM HISTORY...
Arnold Palmer’s magnificent golf performance record, magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness to everybody with whom he came in contact has endeared him to millions throughout the world. Palmer’s tradition of writing congratulatory letters to golfers, professionals and amateurs who had won a tournament or achieved something special is well known in golf circles. Here is one such letter that he wrote to a high school golfer:
Arnold D. Palmer
May 23, 2014
Dear Nate: I understand from your brother, Adam, that you are quite a golfer and a great younger brother. I hear you’ve won several junior tournaments, including the Massachusetts Division II District Tournament. Congratulations! As you graduate from High School and continue on to Stonehill College, I think you will find life to be enjoyable and fulfilling if you follow this advise:
- Courtesy and respect are timeless principles, as well as good manners.
- Knowing when to speak is just as important as knowing what to say.
- Know how to win by following the rules.
- Know the importance of when and how to say thank you.
- Never underestimate the importance of a good education.
Good luck in college and study hard,
Sincerely, Arnold Palmer
RULES OF THUMB: Shepherd, Margaret and Sharon Hogan. The Art of the Personal Letter:A Guide to Connecting Through the Written Word. New York: Broadway Books, 2008.
LETTER FROM HISTORY: Adapted from arnoldpalmer.com, golfdigest.com and augusta.com