One thing you may not know about me is that I’m a stickler for etiquette.
Before you could Google anything and everything, I had a MASSIVE Emily Post etiquette book that I would pick up and read for fun or when I needed to know something specific. While I was in college in Texas, I took a number of etiquette classes and they were always something I looked forward to. One of my favorite classes took place during my senior year when we were educated on all things having to do with formal dinners. We literally ate our way through an 12 course meal and along the way learned proper things to discuss during formal dinners, how to butter our bread (yes, there are rules about this), the correct silverware and plates to use during each course and much more. While I carry almost all of what I learned during those classes with me, there are some things that continue to stick out more than others after all these years. One of those things was when and how to write a thank you note.
I am HUGE on writing, sending and receiving thank you notes. For big occasions like our wedding and baby showers, I ordered custom stationary, but for most other occasions I write on my personalized stationary (or Cecilia’s if it’s for a gift she received) or another nice card I have on hand. I very rarely send thank you notes via email because I think a handwritten card is much more personal and powerful. And who doesn’t love getting a nice note in their mailbox????
I am also a huge believer that thank you notes don’t just have to be written and sent after milestone events or when you receive a physical gift. I love sending thank you cards to friends and family after we have a nice phone call or visit, they’ve hosted us in their home or when they provide an open ear or great advice. In my opinion, a little handwritten thank you goes a long way in showing someone how much you appreciate them, their generosity and their time.
If you suffer from writer’s block whenever you sit down to write thank you notes, here is quick outline on what to include.
- First, say “thank you” right off the bat. After your greeting, get your thank you right out there and be specific about what you’re thanking them for.
EXAMPLE: Thank you so much for vase you gave us for our wedding.
- Second, explain how much you appreciate the gift and generosity. Everyone wants to give someone a gift they love and will use often, so let the person know not only how you appreciate their gift, but also how you plan to use it or have already used it.
EXAMPLE: I have bought fresh flowers to put in it every week since we have received it and I love how it instantly brightens up our home.
- If the gift was given for a milestone event (wedding, baby shower, birthday, etc), mention how great it was to see the person at the event or how their presence was missed. Often times, people take time off work to attend the event and/or pay for travel, lodging and childcare, so be sure to mention how much you appreciate their presence at your celebration.
EXAMPLE: It was so wonderful to see you at our wedding and we cannot express how much we appreciate you taking time out of your schedule to travel to San Diego to celebrate our special day with us. We hope you had as much fun as we did.
EXAMPLE: We were so sad you weren’t able to be with us at our wedding. You were greatly missed.
- Next, write a statement that looks toward the future. Will you see this person again soon? If so, mention that. If not, mention that you are thinking about them, wish them well and hope to see them soon.
EXAMPLE: I am looking forward to having dinner with you and catching up more next month when we are in San Francisco.
EXAMPLE: I hope you and your family are doing well and that we can catch up again in person soon.
- Follow this up by reiterating your thanks.
EXAMPLE: Thank you again for your lovely gift.
- Lastly, end with your regards. The formality of your closing regards should reflect your relationship with the recipient of your note. Closing regards could begin with anything from “Sincerely” to “Lots of love” to “Thanks again.”
While this was a quick (and hopefully helpful) guide on how to write a thank you note, the most important part of the note is that it is heartfelt. So if this guide doesn’t work for you, by all means, stick with writing how you feel and expressing your thanks in your own personal way.
Now that you’ve written your note, it’s time to send it! It’s best to pop it in the mail within a week after an event or receiving a gift, but I know that’s not always possible especially for events with a large number of guests/gifts or for a wedding when you leave on your honeymoon right after. While you don’t want to continually put of sending a thank you, in my opinion, sending one a little late is better than not sending one at all.