The Art of The Thank You Note


I have just finished addressing the last of the thank you notes for the Christmas presents we received. Very few people write thank you notes these days and I think it is sad to see the written word go away and take with it gratitude and etiquette. I have always written thank you notes for every gift received. I even wrote thank you notes for family members that travelled to see us while we were visiting family in the northwest and didn’t give a gift. I had thanked them for travelling and taking the time to see us and meet our son.

I love getting thank you notes. It makes me feel like the gesture was appreciated. My favorite thank you card I got this fall. My brother had just earned his Eagle Scout award and I gave him a gift. He wrote me a thank you note. It was extremely short and had very poor handwriting, but he did it all on his own. I’m keeping the thank you note (and envelope) in my scrapbook box forever.

Now, the person sending the note doesn’t have to like the gift to send a thank you, they just have to like the gesture. (It’s certainly nice when they do like the gift.) I also believe thank you notes are appropriate and appreciated after someone has done something above and beyond for you like when my friend threw me a baby shower.

These days you are still encouraged to write a thank you note for job interviews. This is one I don’t wholly agree with this. It really depends on the job. If you are applying for any fast food, retail sales or otherwise minimum wage job, don’t waste your time. If the hiring process will take a long time, lets say for a corporate job, then sending a note would be more appropriate.

Now what situation always demands a thank you note? The wedding gift! It is always important to send a thank you note for a wedding gift. This is the most formal and big thing you’ll ever do so you should do the formal thing and write thank you notes to everyone. What has really upset me is that no everyone obeys this rule. When I got married in 2006, many people contacted me after receiving my thank you note letting me know how surprised they were to get one. What?!? Why would they be surprised? Well, shortly after I got married, I attended two weddings. My husband and I brought gifts, we received no note! I felt hurt, I really did. Did they not get it? Did they not like it? Did they not appreciate my efforts? Thankfully I got a thank you note from the next wedding we attended. It happened to be my sisters and she was very formal with everything. I actually did the calligraphy for every envelope on the invitations (outer envelope, inner envelope and return envelope).

Now it doesn’t take expert writing to write a thank you note. You don’t need custom stationary or embossed anything. You can go with some blank cards or some simple cards that say thank you on the front like the one I have pictured above. This is what I’ve written my Christmas thank you notes on. And yes, I use a fountain pen. I’m a bit old fashion in the fact that I like a good fountain pen and I write in calligraphy. Back to my point though, I have a box full of blank thank you cards and all it takes is to write someones address on the front of the envelope, your return address, and slap a stamp on it. For the card, simple is fine. Here’s an example of one I wrote:

Dear Aunt and Uncle,

     Thank you for the three jars of jam. I can’t wait to try each and every flavor. I hope you had a great Christmas. We all miss you and hope to see you again soon! Have a Happy New Year!


So please, say “Thank You”. If you need little help, here are some pointers on the actual how to. Each thank you note should include three basic things:

  1. Why you’re thanking them (for a gift, gesture)
  2. What it meant or what you’ll do with it
  3. How you feel


  • Handwrite the note. Don’t just apply these tips to your e-mail thank-yous. Although it would be easier to send an e-mail or type a letter, a handwritten thank-you note is the most sincere and appreciated form of gratitude. The extra effort goes a long way.
  • Buy stationery. Embossed cards with complementary envelopes look much better than folded notebook paper stuffed in a plain envelope. You don’t have to splurge on embossed or monogrammed stationery from a specialty store. You can find decent sets at office supply stores and online.
  • Personalize it. Not just in the personalized stationery, but in what you actually say. If you’re going to see the person in the future, refer to the event and say you’re looking forward to it. If the person gave you a silver picture frame, don’t simply thank them for it, but add, “I plan on using the frame for a wedding picture in my living room.”
  • Even if it’s late, send a note. Don’t feel embarrassed. It’s better to send a late thank-you than none at all.
  • Take your time. An illegible note won’t do much good and neither will one with scratch marks all over it. Use a nice, fine point pen, so the ink won’t bleed or smudge. Traditionally, thank-you notes are written in cursive. Sometimes this can look like a mess if your cursive is not up-to-par, so use your best judgment and do what you think looks best.
  • Send thanks for trivial things. Why not? Whether it’s for a casual get-together or for a neighbor who collected your mail and watered your plants while you were gone, a hand-written note is the best way to show your appreciation. It may also ensure that you’ll get the invite or extra help in the future.


  • Don’t exaggerate. Of course you can rave about a gift, but don’t lie about how much you like something. It may be obvious if you say, “The monogrammed soap is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!” Most likely you’ve seen better, so simply say, “The monogrammed soap was very thoughtful and will be perfect for the powder room.”
  • Don’t be stiff. Show your personality. It’s okay to use humor, sarcasm, or idioms to express yourself, as long as you’re not insulting the gift. If you’re questioning whether you should write a certain joke or phrase, ask yourself if you would say it in-person. Try to maintain the same tone with the person on paper as you would in-person.
  • Don’t refer to specific amounts of money. These might seem like the hardest notes to write, but all you have to say is “I greatly appreciate your generosity. I hope to use the money to…” Just make sure the giver would support your money plans. Your great-aunt may not support a weekend getaway to Vegas, but she would understand a “much-needed vacation.”
  • Don’t ramble. You may want to go on and on about how your new job is going, a family friend you ran into, or that new movie you saw, but don’t. Be concise. It is a thank-you note after all, so stick to the thanks. If you feel like writing more, write them a separate note to fill them in on your life and see how they’re doing.
  • Don’t assume an in-person thanks is enough. If a person went to the trouble of hosting a party or purchasing a gift for you, you surely can take the time to write a note. Make sure to thank the host of a party in-person, but since your thanks may get lost in the excitement, a note is a great addition.

Do’s and Don’ts list courtesy of Southern Living

2 thoughts on “The Art of The Thank You Note

  1. Reading your article brought home some key points for me that has inspired me.
    Thanks for making a great site with some useful information.

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