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The Lost Art of Writing Thank You Notes

Expressing gratitude is rapidly becoming a lost art. Once chivalrous men willingly held the door open for a lady. But when ladies no longer thanked them for doing so, they stopped. Could it be that kindness is a two-way street? If so, then you need to know how to write a proper thank you note. Below are some tips.

When to write a thank you note

If you’re already asking, “On what occasions do I have to write a thank you note?” you’re missing the point of the exercise. But for those of you who would rather have a rigid system in place, write a thank you note whenever you receive a gift or free service of any kind. This includes, but is not limited to, the following occasions:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Weddings
  • Baby showers
  • Meal delivery when you’re sick
  • Graduation
  • Christmas/Hanukkah
  • Retirement
  • Going away/farewell
  • Funeral flowers/donations

When to write a thank you note – part 2

Etiquette dictates that a bride and groom have one year from the date of their wedding to complete writing their thank you notes. The message behind these manners is two-fold: you’re expected to write the notes and don’t wait forever to do so. In other words, write the thank you note promptly. A child who says thank you immediately upon receiving a gift is viewed as more grateful than a child who is asked later, “Did you say thank you?” One reason for that is that immediate gratitude can feel more genuine.

Make it personal

Gift givers know when they’re reading a mass-produced “Thank you”. Just because it’s not copied on a Xerox machine doesn’t mean it’s not a formatted note. Take the time to make it personal. Why are you thankful? Are you thankful for just the gift or are there things about the person who gave it to you you’re thankful for as well?

Handwrite it

Along the lines of making it personal, please write handwritten thank you notes. In a day and age when texts and emails are the norm, a handwritten note has even greater value. Additionally, it shows the giver you took the time to make the note personal.

thank you noteSpecifically

Resist the temptation to generically thank someone for “the gift”. The least you can do is acknowledge what the gift was. Take it further by mentioning specifically how you plan to use it.

Add some extra thought

Think of the thank you note as a means of correspondence. Would you just walk up to someone, say “Thank you,” and walk away? Doubtfully. Add some tidbits about your life since the wedding, mention that it was good to see them at the birthday party, congratulate on their new job, or celebrate a shared sports team victory. It’s okay to fill more than just one side of the card.

Be creative

If you’re crafty, check Pinterest for some unique ideas for thank you notes. If you’re not, come up with some other ways to be creative. One of the best thank you notes I ever received contained a picture of the bride and groom holding my gift to them in their hands. It was a simple gesture that made the note much more personal.

It’s not rocket science, but it has the potential to nurture kindness. And this world could use all the kindness it can get.


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