When giving flowers on non-holiday or celebration occasions, there are often feelings one may want to express. Letters and cards are used to convey personal messages of all types from a simple thank you to a more complicated “I’m sorry I spilled red wine on your $300 white shoes”. We often find ourselves at a loss for words in a variety of uncomfortable situations or have a lack of knowledge on the proper etiquette to follow when writing letters or cards. Don’t put off sending one any longer. Follow these tips to ensure you are getting across the right message.

Thank You

If you don’t know what to say when writing thank you letters, keep it simple and to the point. The following rules will help you with the proper etiquette of sending a thank you letter. They should be handwritten in every occasion except one. It is appropriate to email a thank you following a job interview if email has been your main point of contact with the company. The most formal of thank you letters is probably the wedding gift thank you. These letters are traditionally handwritten on formal stationary cards. Holiday, birthday and other gifts should also be acknowledged with a handwritten thank you note which can, in some case, accompany a bouquet of flowers.

I’m Sorry and Apology Letters

Letter writing seems to be a lost art with the introduction of phones, email, text messaging and instant chat but the easiest and least confrontational way to clear the air is by sending an apology letter. Most apology cards are written as a way to take responsibility for your actions. If you are unable to attend an important dinner, sending an “I’m Sorry” card is a great way to respectfully decline the invitation. When it comes to saying, “I’m sorry”, it’s best to start with a blank card. This way the message can be tailored to the situation. It is rare to find a preprinted card that says, “I’m sorry my husband used your silk tapestry as a napkin”. Do not pour your heart out in the card unless it is absolutely necessary. Address the point of apology in a clear and concise way and follow up with a more personal phone call.

Condolences and Sympathy

One of the most difficult things to express in a card is sincere condolences. Often times you don’t know what to say because losing a loved one is such a personal tragedy and everybody deals with their emotions differently. Follow these guidelines for sending sympathy cards. Don’t be late. Send your sympathy card as soon as possible after learning of the news. Your message should be short and simple unless you were extremely close with the family and would like to share fond memories. To send flowers is a good complement to a sympathy card. It is never wise to draw conclusions for the person grieving like “I know just how you feel.” Simply acknowledge the loss of the individual while expressing your condolences. Having not known the deceased personally can sometimes leave you at a loss for words. A simple line of condolence is sufficient in this case, rather then trying to imagine what this person meant to the grieving. If you feel comfortable doing so, offer your assistance wherever it might be needed. A great example to start with is “Please accept my/our sympathy on the loss of your father.”

With these guidelines, sending a letter should be painless. Just remember these tips when you don’t know what to say.