Each spring, thousands of students announce to the world that they are receiving their high school diploma or college degree after years of writing essays, slaving over class projects and pulling all-nighters before final exams. If someone you know has sent you a graduation announcement, the least you can do is reply with a thoughtfully written card.

Do I Have to Send a Card?

Many high school and college graduates tend to send out as many graduation announcements as possible with the hopes of receiving plenty of gifts in return. While close friends and family members will most likely send a check upon receiving the announcement, sending a gift is not required. Taking the time to mail a graduation card to congratulate the new grad’s accomplishment is an appreciated gesture.

Addressing Envelopes

Taking a few moments to address the envelope by hand for the graduation card is a simple way to add a personal touch to either a pre-printed card or one you designed yourself. Write the address in clear lettering, using blue or black ink. Etiquette instructs avoiding abbreviations and writing out words completely, such as “Street” instead of “St.” and “Wyoming” in place of “WY.” Slide the card into the envelope so that the front of the card faces the back flap. This way the graduate will immediately view the front of the card when opening the envelope.

Wording a Congratulations Card for the Graduate

Whether you select a pre-printed card to send to your graduate or you elect to create your own masterpiece, it is thoughtful to write a few personal lines of encouragement. Consider quoting a famous poem, Bible verse or funny joke, depending on the graduate’s personality. Write, “May you be blessed richly as you venture into this next phase of life” or “May your new knowledge carry you far and help you achieve your dreams.” Always congratulate the graduate and wish him well in life’s journey.

Thank You Notes

For the graduate receiving a slurry of cards and gifts, it is always proper to acknowledge each gift with a thank you card. Notes should always be hand-written, refer to the specific gift and express appreciation. For monetary gifts, etiquette dictates you should explain how you will use the funds. Write, “I plan on using the money to help pay for college courses” or “The money will really help me furnish my first apartment.” Send out thank you notes as soon as possible.