A TED Talk By Hannah Brencher: Love Letters To Strangers

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When you think of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks, you think of speakers discussing innovative political ideas or even radical developments made in the world of technology – but the humble postal service has also been known to make an appearance, thanks to the work of Hannah Brencher.

Hosting a TED talk entitled: “Love letters to strangers”, Brencher lent inspiration for this presentation following her mother’s practice of sending her letters during Brencher’s time at college. After moving to New York City in October 2010, she experienced depression – so to combat this, she decided to leave love letters throughout the city. In the course of nine months, she mailed out over 400 love letters to complete strangers across the world, and has now started a global project named: The World Needs More Love Letters.

What is ‘The World Needs More Love Letters’ about?
According to Brencher, it is: “a global love letter writing organization that harnesses the power behind social media to write and mail love letters to individuals across the globe”. After leaving random scraps of letters in places such as coffee shops as well as in coat pockets in department stores, she decided to document her experiences – blogging about the letters and publishing one extremely small but life-changing question: “Do you need someone to write you a love letter today? Just ask.”

Millions all over the world now partake in Brencher’s letter-writing project in three ways:

• Mail letters. To commemorate certain worldwide events, More Love Letters collaborates with worthy causes – where in this instance, More Love Letters has partnered up with This Bar Save Lives in honour of World Food Day. The premise is simple: for every letter written in the next 30 days, This Bar Saves Lives will donate a packet of life-saving food to a child in need. Alternatively, you can also write letters to charity workers posted overseas, mailing them words of encouragement.

• Leave letters. You can follow Brencher’s example and leave random love letters in your hometown, or perhaps on a park bench for someone to discover. Write the URL moreloveletters.com on the letter, then check the site in a few days to see if someone uploaded a photo of your letter for all the world to see!

• Start a campus charter. Want to spread the word amongst your academic associates? Then you can apply to bring Campus Cursive to your university – and if successful, your mission will see you spread love letters around your campus, your university town as well as the rest of the world.

Have you been the recipient of a random love letter? Or perhaps you’ve left a love letter or two for a stranger to read! Does the More Love Letters scheme sound like something you’d be interested in? Tell us who you’ve written your letters to or where you’ve left them – post your experiences in the comments below today!

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Put Pen To Paper: Saturday 15th November Is ‘I Love To Write’ Day

November 15th marks an important date in the writing calendar, celebrating the event of ‘I Love To Write Day’. It’s the world’s biggest party for writers, and you’re all invited – all that’s required is that you have a passion for writing, whatever your preferred prose!

This creative day was first thought up by Delaware author John Riddle, giving writers the opportunity to compose a variety of written forms. From a romantic poem to starting a novel, there’s countless possibilities to craft your written project – and you can spread the word by encouraging friends and families to partake in this day.

Here are some suggestions to kick-start your writing for ‘I Love To Write’ Day:

• Letter to the editor. Seen a story you wanted to share your opinions on? Keep it short and succinct – a recommended word count would be around 300. Make sure it’s a recent event or article your letter can make valid connections to, and ensure it’s a topic you’re well-acquainted with – as this will help establish you as a source of authority in your chosen field. Additionally, check to see if the publication comes with any guidelines, as following a set of criteria increases your chances of having your letter published.

• A poem. Whether it’s a short limerick or a clever haiku, poems come in all shapes and sizes. How about writing an acrostic poem, where the first letters of each line align vertically to form a word? See if you can compose a five-line poem in the form of a cinquain, or test your knowledge of the English language by coming up with rhyming couplets!

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• Essay. That coursework you’ve been putting off? We feel your pain – especially when ‘I Love To Write Day’ falls on the weekend. But having this day of respite could be the perfect opportunity to get your head down and get productive! What with this being a celebrated writer’s day, it’d be rude not to cram in as much writing as you can – plus you can reward yourself with the relief that you’ve completed your assignment and got all your writing out of the way.

• Novel. Many writers aspire to come up with a best-selling novel, but often don’t know where to start. There are plenty of novel-writing classes to partake in, while there are several book-writing clubs popping up in many a café. Coincidentally, ‘I Love To Write Day’ takes place in the same month as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – a yearly celebration and challenge for those wanting to write a novel in a 30-day period). While we’re already halfway through this event, it’s worth checking out – and serves as a great platform to meet like-minded writers wanting to get started on their novel just like you.

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• Letters. When was the last time you wrote a letter? Perhaps it was a complaint to a customer services department, or maybe to a former pen pal. Why not go back to basics and abandon your email for a letter instead? You never know whose day your personalised post could make!

Will you be participating in ‘I Love To Write Day’? If so, what do you reckon you’ll write? Get your creative juices flowing and share your writing suggestions with us today!

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3 Angriest (And Funniest) Complaint Letters Ever Written

You know how it is – you go to a restaurant and expect a delicious slap-up meal only to be met with tasteless food, awful service and the realisation that you’ll never get that hour and a half of your life back. Feeling wronged by this underwhelming experience, you decide to complain – and in true British style, you quietly seethe at your seat until you head home where, armed with an internet connection and an email address for the Customer Services department where you’ll be directing your anger at, you write a complaint letter expressing your anger and disappointment.

While many of us tend to keep it short and sweet, other complainants will jump in at the deep end – listing a barrage of grievances which quickly escalates from a brief letter to a lengthy essay. Let’s take a look to see many of you can identify with these five angriest and funniest customer complaint letters:

1. Vodafone. One Mr Jenkins wrote to Vodafone after experiencing a ‘communicational conundrum’ – initially wanting a Sharer plan needing “on average 3000 minutes per user, so for 15 users I needed 45,000 minutes. However, this fell on deaf ears:

“…now, I’m no Shakespeare Nick, but I would proclaim to have a certain grasp on the English langue, so when I uttered the words, ‘I do not want 3000 minutes fixed per phone; I want the whole 45,000 minutes to be shared between the 15 users’, I stupidly assumed that Vodafone would understand this, but in hindsight, I now see that this was all too much for Hayleigh Hegar and Jenna Bird to comprehend.

“In the space of 4 months, I have been escalated to more than 7 people. I don’t think it gets much higher than this Nick, I’m walking on the moon, I’m walking on sunshine, I’m free as a bird Nick, I’m singing in the rain.”

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We feel your pain Mr Jenkins – we really do.

2. Lothian and Borders Police. The author wrote to the Lothian and Borders Police due to concerns they had over certain youths hanging round their local neighbourhood:

“As I’m writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments (I think you call them youths) in West Cromwell Street…Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This game is now in its third week and as I am unsure how the scoring system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon.

“What I suggest is this. After replying to this e-mail with worthless assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt with, why not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath night) when there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a panda car before doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This will of course serve no other purpose than to remind us what policemen actually look like.”

Fingers crossed this hasn’t spoiled your admiration of the beautiful game (or the police, for that matter).

3. Virgin. In what is considered to be the most widely published complaint letter of all time, Oliver Beale discusses his disdain at the airline food:

“I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat there with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.

“Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing. That’s how I felt when I peeled back the foil and saw this.”

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While it was certainly an underwhelming experience, rumour has it that Sir Richard offered Oliver a job shortly after receiving the letter!

What’s the angriest – or funniest – complaint letter you’ve written? Share your grumblings with us today!

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Happy Halloween! 3 Fun Care Packages

That ghoulish time of year has descended upon on us once again – from the latest horror film releases terrifying moviegoers to fancy-dress enthusiasts putting on their scariest costumes when taking part in the tradition of trick or treat, Halloween has well and truly arrived.

But while many of us are fortunate enough to celebrate it on our doorstep, there are others who aren’t so lucky – often situated miles away as a result of university or being in the military. However, there’s nothing stopping you and your loved one from joining forces on 31 October – all it takes is a little packaging, and a LOT of imagination. Check out these four great care packages: fun or fearful? You decide…

Gruesome goodies
You can never go wrong with sending sweets (unless they happen to have a sugar allergy, of course) – so why not recreate a sense of nostalgia by preparing a selection of goodie bags filled with their favourite sweets? Just pop to the shops and gather a variety of Halloween-themed pick ‘n’ mix, chuck in some chocolate bars, place into some ghoulish goodie bags – and you’re done. Once your recipient opens their parcel of scary surprises, they’ll certainly think it’s the “sweetest” thing you could ever do for them!

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Fright night
Should a parcel of goodie bags fail to hit the sweet spot (no pun intended), then entertain your loved one the good old fashioned way – a horror film. Whether you choose to include a classic scary movie or perhaps want to surprise them with the latest terrifying release, complete the cinematic experience by including some typical movie snacks – such as popcorn and cookies. However, if the idea of hiding behind the sofa doesn’t seem like their perfect Halloween night, maybe send them a Halloween-inspired mix tape: from the quintessential scary song of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to “Ghost Town” from The Specials, they can have their own low-key celebrations with a medley of macabre music.

Spook the students!
If you’re a parent, you’ll know firsthand just how disorganised your little ones are – and even though they may have flown the nest to make a start in their first steps of university life, you can guarantee that when it comes to important events, they’ll have left their planning to the very last minute. Make sure they’ve got everything need to make this a Halloween to remember, and send them a parcel containing their favourite costume and petrifying props. From party decorations to even a pumpkin carving set, there’s a whole range of spine-chilling ideas to ensure they have a spooktacular night!

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Alternatively, you could send them a collection of ghost stories – or if they’re brave enough, a book from the horror writer legend himself; Stephen King. What ideas do you have up your scary sleeve to send this Halloween? Post your hair-raising recommendations in the comments below!

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5 Rejection Letters Written To Famous People

Success – celebrities make it look so easy, don’t they? With many a film credit to their name as well as Grammy awards lining their shelves, you can’t help but feel a pang of envy that these stars managed to achieve fame so quickly. However, this is far from the truth; with the reality being that these celebrities will have worked for years before they got their big break.

Yet despite their instant worldwide acclaim, you’d be surprised by how long it will have taken them to get to the successful position that they’re in today – and the amount of rejections they will have faced before finally achieving that coveted celebrity status. For instance, did you know that a publisher once turned down George Orwell’s world-renowned novel, Animal Farm, citing: “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA”?

For a lesson in inspiration, take a look at the following rejection letters – and imagine how different the world would have been had the recipients given up on their dreams:

1. Andy Warhol

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Back in 1965, the artist submitted one of his pieces to the Museum of Modern Art absolutely free – but was swiftly rejected. Yet his luck soon turned, because as well as having his own museum in Pittsburgh, the Museum of Modern Art now shows off 168 of his original pieces.

2. Madonna

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The ‘Material Girl’ eventually signed with Sire Records in 1982, with her debut album selling a staggering 10 million copies worldwide. As the best-selling female artist ever, it just goes to show that a little perseverance goes a long way!

3. U2

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The Irish rockers very nearly missed out on their chance to grace us with their musical presence, after RSO Records rejected the band. But in a matter of months, U2 signed with Island Records to release “11 O’Clock Tick Tock” – bagging 150 million records and winning 22 Grammy Awards. Not bad for an initial rejection!

4. Sylvia Plath

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What if we had never laid eyes on one of the most celebrated literary works of all time, ‘The Bell Jar’? This very nearly became a reality, when then New Yorker asked the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet to have the first half of ‘Amnesiac’ to be dropped. While this wasn’t a rejection per se, a compromisation on her part could have completely altered the outcome of her written masterpieces.

5. Tim Burton

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Burton’s trademark black and white style within his films could have escaped us had he ignored this criticism – but that was not the case, as he learnt from this feedback and improved upon his skills. Despite this rejection, he later got hired as an animator’s apprentice with Disney – bringing us classics such as ‘Edward Scissorhands’ and ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’.

While it’s never easy getting difficult news in the post, eventually getting that successful piece of news makes it worthwhile. What rejection letters have you received, and how did you turn your luck around? Let us know in the comments below!

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Why Pen Pals Are Making A Comeback

Back in the days when we were Internet-less, we relied on a more traditional way of communicating: the good ol’ pen and paper combination. From making friends by replying to an advert in a newspaper to partaking in a foreign exchange program in school, the idea of pen pals was all the rage back then – until the rise of World Wide Web.

Nowadays, we’re all mobile-centric – attached to our plethora of devices to communicate quicker and cheaper than ever before. So with all our smartphones, laptops and tablets at our disposal, why should we give up this model of instant gratification? Simple – this vintage form of messaging is now back in fashion.

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Going back to basics
As with many trends, what was once a hit many years ago eventually experiences a revival to become the new ‘in’ thing – with pen pals recently getting a renewed interest. Projects such as the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club as well as The League of Extraordinary Pen Pals have thousands of members flocking to use these services, while renowned social networking and news site Reddit even has its own pen pal sub-forum.

With the latest innovations proving popular amongst the younger generation, while impressive to many adults, there’s a sense of nostalgia that can’t be beaten with pen pals – just ask 68-year-old Margaret Roberts, who answered an advert in the Liverpool Echo requesting a pen pal. Striking up a written friendship with 70-year-old Ingrid Andersson, the pen pals have celebrated a friendship lasting an impressive 57 years.

From online to offline
While the concept of pen pals brings up the notion of writing via pen and paper, there’s no reason why it can’t start on a reverse note – beginning on a digital platform, then moving to reality. For Londoner Zoe Bateman, that’s how her friendship with Californian Megan began: “She commented on my blog and then I ordered an embroidered quote from her Etsy shop, which turned into a package swap. It continued from there. She’s a fan of British culture and I love Americana, so we did a ‘country swap’, sending local postcards, souvenirs and sweets.”

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Another bonus to being pen pals is being creative – not being limited to using a generic font and email template. “It’s such a joy to include little odds and ends to make it special, such as art work or stickers, so it can brighten up their day,” explains Megan. Plus it gives the pair an excuse to practise their handwriting. “I find it relaxing – it’s nice to take a break from everything tech-based and get out my stationery,” adds Zoe. “I never handwrite anything else.”

A mutual match
Lastly, in a vast online network where many people share a similar mainstream interest, finding someone who appreciates the same niche taste as you can be difficult – but in the case of Sami Levett, she struck lucky. After joining the International Geek Girls Pen Pal Club, she is now part of a group of seven other female members who communicate daily online – as well as mail packages to each other. She says of the experience: “It gave me the courage to be my true self and not be ashamed of it. I wouldn’t have the confidence I do now if it wasn’t for those girls.”

So for those looking for an excuse to get back into the spirit of pen pals – no excuses! Find your pen pal today, and share your experiences with the rest of the Parcel2Go community.

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5 Of The Strangest Fan Mail Ever Sent To Celebrities

A celebrity is nothing without their fans – and while a lot of the attention can be flattering, there are times when certain adulations can be perceived to be somewhat strange (for instance, it’s not uncommon to hear of fans camping for days on end just to glimpse a sight of their favourite star). One particular medium where fan adoration has been seen to be pushed to the extremes is in the form of fan mail – from sending messages of undying love to…batches of toothpicks?!

While the majority of fan mail has been nothing but harmless, a lot of the time, it can be seen as downright weird – but take a look for yourself, and let us know what you deem to be the top five strangest packages a fan has ever sent to a celebrity:

1. One Direction
They’re every young girl’s dream – and as the most successful boy band of all time, no wonder they’ve been labelled as heartbreakers. However, one fan took their love for the group one step further – by sending them a very convincingly real-looking (but fortunately, forged) marriage certificate listing all five names of the bandmates.

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2. Robert Pattinson
The Twilight heartthrob took to chewing on toothpicks in a bid to curb his smoking habit – with his fans generously sending him tens and thousands of the little wooden utensils! Pattinson explains: “I’ve been chewing these toothpicks all the time. Someone noticed in Cannes and literally the next day in Lisbon, then in Paris and in Berlin there were about 20 people on the red carpet giving me huge amounts of toothpicks. Thousands of them.”

3. Halle Berry
She’s one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actresses – not to mention one of the world’s most beautiful women – so it comes as no surprise that one fan was brave enough to send her an engagement ring! No word on whether there was a proposal to accompany the ring, but a heartfelt gesture nonetheless.

4. Daniel Radcliffe
As someone who grew up in front of the camera, this Harry Potter actor has seen it all – or has he? After receiving a picture of two of his fans holding a cup of milk in front of his house, that’s probably one vision – and fan mail – he thought he’d never see.

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5. Ed Westwick
This former “Gossip Girl” actor received a pleasant surprise after a group of female fans had some Dutch courage on their side – drunkenly leaving love messages under his door. He said: “She went on some rant about how she is not like other girls and I should give her a call and we should hang out.”

Have you ever sent any fan packages to your favourite celebrity? We’d love to hear your mail mementoes – share your experiences in the comments below!

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Postal Etiquette: How To Address And Mail Wedding Invitations

So you and your loved one have finally agreed to tie the knot, and it’s now time to get planning as to which people you want to invite to be a part of your wedding! While the big day may feel a long time away, it’s best to give your potential guests plenty of notice – but there’s more to than just ensuring they save the date.

As the idea of sending out wedding invitations isn’t your average postal activity, you should treat your wedding invites with the time and effort they deserve. From recognising the correct way to addressing your invites to ensuring your RSVP envelopes are stamped, we’ll show you how to make sure getting hitched goes off without, ahem, a hitch…

1. Appropriately Assemble Your Invitation Envelopes
With many wedding invites tailor-made, it’s rare for a wedding invitation to comprise just a single note. From quirky invites consisting of several accessories (such as photos and sweets) to the elaborately designed invitations (engraved boxes as well as handmade scrolls), make sure you know how to neatly stuff your invitation envelopes. For those not in the know, the traditional approach goes a little like this:

• Place the invite at the bottom, with your enclosures atop (so the size should go from small at the top to the largest at the bottom)
• Tuck the RSVP card into the reply section of the envelope (which is usually within the flap of the envelope)
• Any text should face outward, so guests can instantly read the invitation as they take it out of the envelope.

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2. Stamp RSVP Envelopes
It’s common sense but you’d be surprised at how often RSVP envelopes go without being stamped – resulting in the awkward situation of making guests pay for postage simply to RSVP! Save your guests – and yourself – any embarrassment by putting postage as well as a return address on the RSVP envelopes.

3. Weigh It Up
So your invitations are all neatly assembled, and it’s time to pop them in the post – but have you weighed your post accordingly? It might seem like a time-consuming process, but it avoids any risk of your invitations being returned as a result of insufficient postage (which could also impact on your meticulously planned wedding timeline). Enclosures (as with any additional post) will bump up your postage costs, so take this into consideration should you want to include any extras (such as maps).

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4. Stamp And Send!
With all the hard work you’ve put into ensuring your wedding invitations have been put together correctly, don’t fall at the last hurdle and neglect to stamp them! Once they’ve been stamped, think about mailing out your invitations around six to eight weeks before the big day – or about three months in advance should you be having an overseas wedding.

Have we missed out any other crucial tips? Here’s hoping everything goes to plan – and that your wedding invitations were ‘made’ of honour!

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Celebrate Love Note Day With A Message From The Heart

We all know Valentine’s Day is the most romantic time of year, but spare a thought for another special day – Love Note Day; celebrated this year on Friday 26th September. While Valentine’s Day takes romantic gestures to the next level (sending flowers, whisking away the other half for a surprise getaway), Love Note Day goes back to basics by putting pen to paper and appreciating the one you love via a love letter.

A historic art form, for years people have been partaking in the act of writing and sending love letters to one another – we only need to look to the literary greats such as William Shakespeare and Lord Byron to be inspired by their romantic side. Yet while most of us aren’t blessed with a vocabulary and imagination as diverse as theirs, we’ve come up with some creative ways of telling that special person in your life how much you love them (you’re welcome):

1. A love letter with a single rose
Flowers? Check. Sentimental musings? Double check. With both of these romantic assets being used to your advantage, you can’t go wrong with winning over your other half. So long as they don’t suffer from hay fever, that is.

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2. A message in a bottle
What was once a vital form of communication for shipwrecked sailors marooned on a desert island has now become a tradition practised the world over – but if you’re worried that your recipient may never receive your whimsical love note, you can always cheat: write your letter, place it in a bottle but send it in a package. Perfect for long distance relationships!

3. An audio love letter
In these digital times, technology has certainly come a long way to provide us with suitable alternative forms of communication – and what better way to express your feelings than hearing your voice crack with emotion as you recount your romantic memories? Or you could just keep it simple and compile a playlist of your favourite love songs and enclose a letter (ideal for those who hate the sound of their own voice).

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4. Post-it poems
While some of us may be lacking in the wordsmith department, this is where Post-it notes come to the rescue – so if you’re not a man/woman of many words, condense your soppy sentiments onto a scrap of paper, and leave them around your loved one’s room as a romantic surprise when they come home from a hard day at work.

5. Love that is larger than life!
For the truly tender-hearted among us, show your love in a big way – literally. Make a large envelope complete with a large letter, declare your love that’s tantamount to the size of your romantic endeavour – and blow up stamps in a large size to match!

Do you have any inspiring ideas for putting your love into words? Post your thoughts in the comment below – and don’t forget to spoil your special someone with a love letter on Love Note Day!

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The Worst (And Perhaps Best) Breakup Letters Ever Sent

The amorous concept of sending love letters is an ideal embraced by many an adoring couple – however, receiving a letter from a loved one only to find that they’re breaking up with you can quickly alter that once romantic mindset. And while there’s a million and one ways of calling time on a relationship, it’s never easy to break this type of news – which may explain why some breakup letters skip past the sensitive part and get straight to the point!

Although many people compare breaking up with ripping off a plaster (the sooner you rip it off, the less pain experienced), some breakup letters could do with a lesson or five in tactfulness – and after scouring the web for less-than-tasteful breakup notes, these should serve as examples of how NOT to write a breakup letter:

1. The animal-loving artist
If in doubt, feature a sketch of you as a stick figure riding a giraffe – this inspiring illustration should soften the blow (or at least take their mind off the breakup thanks to the distracting animal artwork).

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2. The treasure hunt
What better way to declare your singledom than by treating your loved one to a treasure hunt? In this case this lover scorned embarked on a bitter scavenger hunt for the other half – leaving precious valuables (including clothes and expensive technology) behind in memorable places celebrated by these former lovebirds. However, the author’s letter is quick to highlight that there’s no guarantee said items will still be in those locations!

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3. The out-of-the-blue letter
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Or shall I just break up with you through romantic prose? Seems like this letter was in two minds – and decided to go for the best of both worlds by leading in with compliments only to leave the recipient high and dry…and single?

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4. The dog-doesn’t-love-you-anymore letter
That saying about a dog being a man’s best friend? Apparently that doesn’t apply in this particular breakup letter – made even worse by the fact that the letter is broken down into two parts! The first being a human breakup, and the second making a startling revelation that even the dog despises its former owner.

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5. The pizza surprise
The surprise is…you’re dumped. At least the pizza serves as an adequate compensation prize…perhaps.

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If you’re looking to call quits on a relationship, we strongly advise against undertaking any of these methods – and while it may be difficult, it’s often best to say it face to face. Otherwise you could find your breakup letter doing the rounds on the internet, and land on our blog. Pizza, anyone?

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