An owl wearing a pair of spectacles, with speech bubble and text 'Well Done'There are so many moments in life worth celebrating: engagements, new job, new baby, graduation, passing exams, moving, just to name a few.

Whatever the reason for sending your congratulations, saying it with a card will make it that bit more special. And it doesn’t matter whether you have already phoned the recipient, spoken to them face to face, or sent them an email – a card will always be well received.

Writing a congratulations card doesn’t need to be too complicated, Knowing how to write a congratulations card is not magic, but here are our top tips on how to get it right.

Timing Is Everything

Timing is everything and it’s best to send your card as soon as possible. Being quick out of the gate shows your enthusiasm to share in their happiness.

For example you don’t want to congratulate someone on the birth of their baby when the child is approaching their first birthday. And likewise saying congratulations to celebrate someone’s new role isn’t going to cut it when they’ve been in their new role for six months.

Delaying will seem limp, and detract from what should be a happy and spirited time.

A well-timed congratulations can give a definite boost to the elation that the recipient is already feeling. Whereas a belated congratulations card can come across as you placing them at the bottom of your pile.

It’s Not Just Personal

There is no reason to restrict sending cards to just the obvious occasions. Remember congratulations cards are great for both personal and professional situations and can include some occasions that perhaps you didn’t think of.

Congratulations cards for friends and family include a wide range of occasions such as a wedding, an engagement, a birth announcement, a graduation, and exams.

Professional occasions include a promotion, winning an award, retirement, new job title, landing a new client, starting a business, and more.

With that in mind, and knowing that it’s a good idea to be quick off the mark with your congratulations, it’s a good idea to stock up on a variety of cards so that you have one to hand ready to send when the occasion arises.

How To Structure A Congratulations Card

You don’t have to write an essay when you’re sending your congratulations card. But sticking to a simple structure can help you get everything you want to say down in a short, simple message.

It’s usually best to start with “Dear XYZ”. This suits all recipients both personal and professional.

Share how you heard the news of their occasion. For example: Congratulations on your engagement, your mum just called to tell me your big news.

Try to avoid expressing too much surprise. You don’t want it to seem like you’re shocked that they could have possibly achieved anything. And avoid passive-aggressive comments – even if you are just joking.

You’ve Done So Well, You’ve Come So Far

Note how far they’ve come. Of course this step isn’t going to be appropriate for every card that you write. But if you’re writing the card to someone whose fought to get to where they are, then acknowledging it will of course give them a pride boost. If however, the obstacles in question were perhaps embarrassing or self inflicted, it’s best to leave them out.

Express your support. Making sure they know you have faith in them and that they have your full support is the next step. For example: I know that you have what it takes to make an exemplary lawyer. I’ll be thinking of you on your first day and can’t wait to see you at your graduation ceremony.

Try to avoid excessive flattery. Of course you’re proud of them and you’re pleased of what they’ve accomplished but there’s no need to go over the top with praise for the sake of it. Just keep it sincere.

How To Finish Well

Finish up by reiterating your congratulations. Take the time to once again congratulate them and remind them how proud you are of them.