The Art of the Thank-You Note

The thank-you note is as archaic as black-and-white televisions and vacuuming with your pearls on.

Yet we all know that receiving a thoughtful, hand-written note of gratitude in the mail is far more rewarding than receiving a text or an email. And it’s way sure better than not having a gift acknowledged at all.IMG_0646

In the past several months, I’ve received invitations to weddings, birthdays, and graduations – all of which I hand-picked gifts for. And, here we are, months later, with no acknowledgment of time or money spent on the gift-giving. Now it’s true that the joy is in the giving; yet there still is some social obligation in the recipient’s expressing some sort of gratitude for the gift.

In light of that, I offer you some tips on writing the Proper Thank-You Note.

Why Write a Thank-You Note

Writing thank-you notes is the most personal, warmest way to express appreciation for a gift or a kind act. It is a sign of good manners and gratitude.

A well-written thank-you note is often treasured by the recipient; regrettably, in most cases, your failure to send a note most surely is remembered.

Thank-you notes should be sent to thank someone for:

  • Giving you a gift

o   Birthday gift

o   Congratulatory gift

o   Flowers

o   Donation

  • Having you as a guest

o   In their home overnight

o   At a party in their home

o   Throwing a party or event for you

  • For any special favor

o   Driving you long distances

o   Preparing a special meal for you

o   Visiting you when you’re ill

If you are unsure as to whether a thank-you note is called for, send one anyway. A well-written note of appreciation is always appreciated.

How to Write a Proper Thank-You Note

Each thank-you note that you write should be personalized to the recipient. Your goal is to make the recipient feel good about having given you the gift or done you the favor. You want them to see that you find value in the gift-giving.

Just the same, there are some general guidelines about writing thank-you notes:

  • Send your thank-you note no sooner than 3 days and no later than 2 weeks after receiving the gift or attending the event. However, if longer time has passed, don’t apologize for the tardiness of the note in your note. Just write it.
  • Write neatly. An illegible note defeats your own purpose. Take your time and use your best script.
  • Use a black ballpoint, gel or fountain pen. Do not use blue, green, pink or sparkly inks. Don’t dot your i‘s with hearts.
  • Avoid using cards with the preprinted words “Thank you” on the front. Be more creative.
  • Don’t use “teenspeak.” For example, don’t write: “Thank you for letting me crash at your house.” It is more correct to write: “Thank you for allowing to stay the night in your lovely home.”
  • Absolutely do not be tacky in your thank-you note. Don’t say you already have one, or you didn’t like it, or you returned it, or you didn’t have a good time, or you got sick. Your goal is to compliment the gift-giver or host, not make him or her feel lousy for spending money or time on you.

Even though each note should be personalized, there is a general format to follow. Your thank-you note should be hand written, brief, and consist of these four parts: 

  1. The greeting – Begin with the word Dear

Dear Aunt Mary,

  1. An appreciation of the item, event, or favor

Thank you for the beautiful silver charm bracelet for my birthday.

  1. An explanation of how useful it will be or how much you like it (even if you don’t), including a specific, personalized detail

I love the charms on the bracelet. They’re perfect for me, especially the dolphin and the seashell, as I plan on studying marine biology next year when I go to college. Also, the bracelet matches perfectly with the bridesmaids gowns my sister has chosen for us to wear in her wedding. 

  1. A recap of your gratitude and a suggestion of a future meeting as a sign off 

Again, thank you very much for the lovely bracelet. I hope to see you again soon, perhaps at my sister’s wedding, where you will see me wearing my new bracelet.

With appreciation,

Megan Smith

Sending prompt, gracious thank-you notes reflects well upon you and your family,

and it creates goodwill within your community.

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