On Being a Nice Guest & Making a Thank You Card

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After polishing off a home-cooked meal provided by a friend or family member, I can think of no greater gesture than sending a thank you card. Is this tradition dying off? My Southern mama taught me many things: the joys of climbing a magnolia tree, how to shoot a bb gun, ride a horse bare back and what makes a biscuit a biscuit (no square edges and not too sweet!), but of all the fun genteel traditions, the one I return to the most is the simple thank you card.

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a few examples of collage thank you cards I've made over the years.

Part of entertaining is thinking about being a gracious guest. We at the Kitchn have been covering the ins and outs of celebrating with drink, food and lots of laughter, but what happens when you attend a great event, instead of host one? Do you bring flowers or champagne? I always like to bring a little something, even if the host says don't bother. A plate of stinky cheese and olives or a bowl of cherries won't be turned down, upstage the main event and won't cause excess dishes (work for the host).

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I enjoy having my materials easily accessible, better for impromptu card-making.

When I get home from such a dinner or party, I actually look forward to making a quick thank you card. This small measure takes less than twenty minutes and can mean a great deal to your host. As a kid, I loved to make collages and use wacky materials in my artwork, and I find the thank you card allows me to channel this childhood pastime. In the midst of working on a computer for many hours everyday, I see card-making as an opportunity to insert some 'play' into my adult life. Armed with my collection of Japanese masking tapes, photographs, pages from magazines, fabric, glue and some paints, I whip up a card to say thanks. Making a collage card takes the pressure off "being an artist," it's the medium everyone can succeed in. I always thought of it as the people's art form, for artistic pros, novices, kids and grown ups. It just takes a little time and effort. That being said, a simple post card or sheet of paper to scrawl a hand-written note will do just fine as well. Think of the smile on your friend's face as she opens her mail box.

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Obviously, I'm an unabashed fan of the posted thank you card, especially in our hyper-connected internet ways. Something tactile, real and sincere to pin to your fridge, it's just fun and kind. It's also what my Mississippi Mama taught me was right, and I do as my Mama says.

Related: 8 Simple Tips to Make Your Dinner Guests Feel Comfortable

(Images and collages: Leela Cyd Ross)