Write Thank You notes for gracious sakes!

4 Mar


tyWith all the technology in this fast-paced world, we have all lost sight of the concept of a simple thank-you note. My boyfriend has a 7-year-old, who until recently had never written a thank you note. This astonished me because my mother was the thank you note queen… and as soon as I could hold a crayon I was writing thank you notes to everyone who ever did something nice for me, including my babysitters! I think it is an art…. a lost art at that. There are so many times I go out of my way to do something nice for someone, and it would be appreciated to be acknowledge with a simple ‘thank you’ for my trouble.  Every gift (even if you hate it) deserves a thank you note.  Since when have we gotten so busy that a simple thank you is too time consuming? I believe that it is because unlike me, a lot of you out there were never taught how to write a proper thank you note… and so the task can seem daunting.  Let me enlighten you on how to write a Thank you note (a note—not an email!) that says more than: ‘Thanks for the present, you rock!’

I will also let you in on a little secret about thank-you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to continue to do it for you.

I assure you, writing thank-yous is easier than you remember. Get yourself some stationery that you like. It doesn’t have to be THANK YOU note cards… make it something that looks and feels like you. I do recommend keeping it to a note card size however since your brief message will look bizarre on a full-size sheet.  Also get some postage so that you have it when needed. Store these items somewhere easily accessible and preferably in plain sight so you won’t hesitate too long or forget too easily.

Who get’s a Thank you note? An article by The Morning News (http://www.themorningnews.org/) says:

“If you want to know when you get a genuine pass on writing a note, the litmus test is simple: Do I live under the same roof as the giver? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you need not write a thank-you note (although a thank-you Post-It might be a nice touch).”

In the same article, the author addresses delicate situations in which you would be unsure if to send a thank you note.

“I’m not going to go all Miss Manners on your ass and get into the social intricacies and delicate situations that surround thank-you note writing, as I was taught that a solid thank-you note will transcend all complicated situations—and I have seen no evidence to the contrary.”

There is a formula to writing the proper thank-you and if you follow it each time, there is no way you can go wrong. There are only 6 parts to the formula…. learn it, know it, memorize it, do it.


1. Greeting to the Giver

Dear Aunt Sally,

That’s the easy part, but you’d be surprised how many people forget it. Make it personal! People love to read their own names in ink. That’s right, ink. Blue-black is always the number-one choice. Don’t use a marker or a brightly colored ink. Even if your handwriting is poor, you must still hand-write your notes. Do not type them or, worse, use a word processor. No excuses.


2. Express Your Gratitude

Thank you so much for the slippers.

Beware the just writing trap. You are not ‘just writing to say’ as in I am just writing to say; that’s stating the obvious. Use the present-perfect tense, which essentially means write as if whatever you say is happening in the moment.

This is important—never directly mention money. ‘Thank you for the hundred bucks’ could instead be ‘Thank you for your generosity.’ If you feel the giver overspent, the farthest you can go is appreciated: ‘Your generosity is appreciated,’ or ‘It is such an extravagant gift—your kindness is appreciated.’

If you’re writing to thank someone for an intangible (such as them putting you up at their place while you were in town for the weekend), first define what the intangible thing is, and then make the gift sound as attractive as possible. In other words, don’t say: ‘Thanks for letting us crash at your place.’ Instead say: ‘Thank you for your hospitality.’ Don’t worry if it sounds too simple; the point of writing the note is to create a simple expression of a heartfelt sentiment.


3. Discuss the Gift’s Use

It gets very chilly here in the winter, so they will get a lot of use when winter comes.

Say something nice about the item and how you will use it. Let’s say it’s something you actually love and use incessantly—then say so: ‘Ever since I got the slippers I have only taken them off to shower and go to work. I’d wear them to the office if I thought I could get away with it.’

But don’t lie, even though some etiquette books may tell you its okay. After all, there’s always a truth that can be extracted. Let’s say you hate the slippers. How to say thanks? Find the one thing about them that’s nice and discuss it—but don’t get carried away. If it was a gesture, like letting you stay at their place, you can follow the lines of ‘It’s so nice to make a personal connection while traveling. I really appreciated my time with your family.’

If the gift was cash, allude to how you will use the money, but do not itemize your planned purchases,  say something like: ‘It will be a great help to use when we purchase our new home.’

You can get arty here, but not flowery. Statements like ‘I put the flowers on the kitchen table and they are still looking fresh and beautiful after a week,’ or ‘I don’t know which is more fun, actually using the Espresso machine , or the caffeine kick I get after my third cup!’ Having fun is alright, so have at it.


4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future

It was great to see you at my birthday party, and I hope to see you next time I come home to visit my folks.

Let the giver know how they fit into your life. If it’s someone you see infrequently, say whatever you know: ‘I hear you’re doing great at Stanford!.’  If it’s someone you’re in regular contact with: ‘I’ll call you soon, but I wanted to take time to say thanks.’


5. Grace

Thanks again for your gift.

It’s not overkill to say thanks again. So say it.


6. Regards


Simply wrap it up. Use whatever works for you: Love, Yours Truly, With Love.
Sign your name and you’re done.


What’s Not There
While you may want more than anything to show them once and for all you amounted to something, this is not the forum. This is not the time to share news about your life,  brag about your new job or your hot new girlfriend. REMEMBER that the thank-you is exclusively about thanking somebody for their kindness. Save your bragging for your annual Christmas letter.

Get it in the mail as soon as possible. Even if your friends and relatives aren’t the note-writing kind, be the one who sets the precedent. Thank-you-note writing is one of the loveliest traditions to have been utterly compromised by the information age. Let’s start a movement to revive a little gracious living.


A wedding present thank you note example:

Dear Jonathan and Sarah,



Thank you so much for the beautiful candle sticks. They look wonderful on our dining room table and even help set the mood when I make those romantic newlywed dinners!

We were thrilled that you were able to make it to our wedding and hope you had a good time. I will call soon to catch up and share some funny honeymoon stories, but we wanted to take some time to say thank you for your generosity.



Jimmy and Kat


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