How to Write Great Thank You Notes
Writing Thank You Notes Is Not Old Timey
Writing a thank you note is a great way to express gratitude for a gift or an act of kindness. Not only is it the polite thing to do, it's a great way to make someone feel special.
Technology is Good, but Handwritten is Better
In this day and age, sending a thank you text or email is certainly acceptable. If that's all you have time for, it's better than not saying, "Thank you," at all. It's important to let people know their gifts and kind acts were appreciated whether you do so through a text or a handwritten note.
If all you can manage is a quick text or an email, do it. However, if you can spare a few minutes to write a personalized note, that is even better.
Even Grown Ups Like to Get Mail
Admit it. It's fun to open your mailbox and find something other than a bill. By sending a thank you note through the mail, you can make someone else's day!
If someone brightened your day with a gift or a kind gesture, brighten theirs with a note.
What Should You Say?
It is best to personalize the information in the card. This may sound obvious, but to some people, it is not. You need to write specific details about the gift or kindness you received, or you may end up making the person feel unappreciated instead of appreciated.
For instance, once my husband and I paid for a newlywed couple to have a night at a hotel, since they were not able to go on a honeymoon. The thank you card they sent said:
"Thank you for the gift. We will cherish it for years to come."
From their card, we got the feeling that they were not actually thankful. In fact, we were not sure they knew what we had given them.
A better card would have been:
"Thank you for paying for a night at the Hilton Inn. We were excited to have some time alone together, and we appreciated your thoughtfulness."
This would not have taken that much longer to write, but it would have made a much better impression. As it is, I, as the gift giver, will always remember the seemingly rude thank you card the couple sent me.
Make Sure You Mention the Kindness
Sometimes, even small gifts can mean a lot. If you only mention the small gift, the gift giver may feel like they did not do enough. Instead, focus on the kindness of the gift.
"Thank you for buying me a Coke."
"Thank you for buying me a Coke. The drink came at just the right moment, and it made me feel refreshed."
Just a few more words will add so much to the note.
Show Them the Money
If someone gives you money as a gift, try telling them what the money will be used for. You don't have to itemize it to the penny, but telling the gift givers how you will use the money will make them feel appreciated.
Instead of saying:
"Thanks for the cash."
"Thank you for the money. We plan to apply it toward passes to Disney World."
See? Now, the gift giver can know they helped you see Mickey Mouse.
Anatomy of a Note
Your thank you notes should:
- Be hand written (Unless you are sending a text or email, hand written is the way to go.)
- Be addressed to the recipient (Dear Mr. X,)
- Include specific information about what you are grateful for. (Don't use generalizations. Specific information won't take that much longer.)
- Be signed by you and anyone who received the gift. (If it's a family gift, include the whole family. If they are unwilling/unable to sign, at least list their names.)
How to Get Kids Involved
Getting small children involved in note-writing can be a challenge. When my kids were too small to write their own notes, it was tempting just to do it for them. However, when I involved them, they actually enjoyed writing thank you notes. Besides, it was great training for later when they were required to write their own notes.
Ways small children can contribute:
- For babies, use ink or paint to stamp their hand or footprint on the inside of the card, or include a photo of the baby with the item he/she received.
- For toddlers, give them a crayon and let them scribble on part of the card.
- For preschoolers, let them use rubber stamps to decorate a card or stamp on the inside of a card. I had name stamps made for my children, so before they could write, they could stamp their names.
- For kindergarten and early elementary, have them write, "Thank you" and their names. Then, let them dictate the note for you to write.
Don't let thank you notes stress you out. If you have several to write after a big event, like a wedding or shower, break them into groups. Commit to writing five notes a day, and the work will be done before you know it.
If you are writing a large quantity of cards, resist the urge to write the same thing on everyone's note. I can't stress enough how important it is to personalize the information. Otherwise, the recipient of the card does not truly feel appreciated, and your efforts in writing thank you cards are wasted.
Keep thank you notes simple, short and personalized. You'll be finished with them before you know it.