“Let’s keep in touch!” “We should do lunch!” “Give me a call sometime!” Ah, yes. These lovely phrases are the proverbial dime-a-dozen. Many people say these things with amazing frequency and without ever actually acting on them. And it’s no wonder why. If someone was to actually act on all of these phrases, they’d have a full-time job just dedicated to keeping in touch with everyone in their personal and professional networks. (Yet another reminder of why sincerity should always be the rule of the game).

So what are some fun ways to keep in touch with family and friends without feeling over-extended? Hopefully one, some, or all of the following ideas will strike your fancy.

1. Pick up the phone. You don’t have to talk for hours – but sometimes just hearing your loved one’s voice makes all those miles between you disappear (at least for a little while). Call loved ones whenever you can.

2. Fire up your computer and send off some meaningful emails. Regularly. A thoughtful message – no matter how brief – goes a long way.

3. Write and mail handwritten letters. These are an anomaly today and because they are so few and far between, the special factor is especially high. So don’t be shy about penning your thanks, love, encouragement, or hellos at least once a week. Each note can be brief or lengthy, and should always be sincere. Ten minutes tops, and your letter is good to go. To start, send a note to one person this week. Send another letter to someone else next week. Do the same three weeks from now, and four weeks from now, and five weeks from now, and…

4. Send the occasional care package – especially when it’s least expected. These packages are a great opportunity to let your creativity soar, and they can be theme-based or filled with a variety of odds and ends. Some fun ideas for the contents include: an interesting bumper sticker, colorful striped socks, a travel-size game, two hot pink pens, and Cracker Jack.

5. Send a ball. Literally! What a great way to put a bounce in the recipient’s step.

6. Make mixed CDs that capture fun memories, and send ’em to those who will appreciate them most. (Bonus points if you send this to someone in time for their next road trip.) Or do what I did during college and leave a voicemail for a friend or relative with a meaningful tune blasting in the background. Not everyone will appreciate this, but those who do will really appreciate it.

7. If close friends or family live within an hour of you, consider purchasing a family membership to an area sports club or gym. Then invite these people to join you on the basketball or racquetball courts, or in the swimming pool, for some bonding time.

8. Send photos of yourself, your kids, your dog, your life to family and friends whenever you feel so inclined. Feel free to share glossy or electronic images – whatever works for you.

9. Along these lines, consider setting up a group page on Facebook and inviting specific individuals to join this group online. There you can post photos, share comments, and stay connected in real time.

10. Make good use of an electronic calendar to remember the milestones in your family members’ and friends’ lives. Then be sure to acknowledge the joyous occasions with celebration-appropriate telephone calls, cards, emails, or gifts.

* Photo by Jonathan Eggers

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