Holiday, How To

How to Write a Thank-You Note

One of the lessons my mother instilled in me at an early age was the importance of writing a thank-you note. Occasions that called for a thank-you note were numerous–from being given a gift, to staying at a friend’s house, to being invited to a meal, and many more. And as Christmas is fast approaching, it’s time to dust off your thank-you card writing skills!

I love sitting down to write thank-you cards, and I love to receive them. It gives me great pleasure to spend my time in this particular ritual, remembering the pleasure of the event that prompts the card. However, when writing many at a time (after a wedding or birthday), it is a task that may begin to feel repetitive. That’s no excuse to let your standards slip! Below are my personal tips for how to write a thank-you note.

Thank-you notes should be sent within three days
This is non-negotiable!

Start a thank-you note with a sentence about anything but the gift you’ve been given
Whether it’s, I hope you had a lovely holiday; we especially enjoyed the snow this year! or It was so kind of you to remember me on my birthday!, beginning the card with something other than thanks for the gift makes the receiver of the card realize that your thank-you card was not written merely out of duty, but out of a desire to communicate. You can then thank the giver, wish them good health and happiness, and express your wish to see them soon.

Be specific
Thank the giver for the specific gift. Instead of Thank you for the wonderful gift! try something like, Thank you for the lovely sweater; I can’t wait to wear it this fall! It will be perfect for special occasions. If you are writing a thank-you card for a gift certificate, perhaps say how you are planning to use the gift certificate.

Use your nicest stationery
I am not a fan of the cutesy “thank you!” cards that seem to be popular nowadays. I far prefer plain, classic stationery. If you don’t have engraved or monogrammed stationery, a wide selection of boxed cards are available. Dempsey & Carroll are my particular favorite; you can receive 10% off your purchase with SARAHC. (And if you’re writing to someone close to you, I cross out my middle and last names on my engraved stationery–you can read why here.)

Use a good pen!
Please do not use a ballpoint pen on good stationery–use a fountain pen. I love Lamy pens; they write very well and are quite affordable.

Repeat your thanks
At the end of the card, before your closing, always repeat your thanks.

Use proper salutations and closings
This goes without saying, but don’t write “Dearest Name” and end a card with “Love from” if you’re writing to someone you don’t know well. Err towards the formal if you are unsure.

A final note
These rules can also be used when writing a thank-you card to an interviewer after a job interview. Simply replace the thanks for a gift with a sentence like, Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me today. I loved learning about XYC Company and the exciting things happening!

It’s easy to put together a how-to list, but it can be difficult to think of fresh ways to express gratitude. Here are a few samples for your holiday needs.

For the hostess

Dear Lee,

I can’t think of a better way to start the Christmas festivities than attending your party! Thank you so much for having us. Your punch was delicious and such a special way to enliven the party! Thank you again, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

With love,

For a check

Dear Grandfather,

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We loved having snow this year–it felt like a true old-fashioned celebration. I wanted to write to thank you for the check–it was a generous and unexpected gift! I am so grateful for your kindness. I miss you, and hope to see you soon!

With love,

For a gift

Dear Anne,

It was so nice of you to remember me at Christmas! Thank you so much for the beautiful shawl. I love it and it’s come in especially useful during these really cold days! I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season and I hope to see you soon.


6 thoughts on “How to Write a Thank-You Note

  1. Very nice, and oh so much needed in our slouching society. One question, you did not mention crossing through your name at the top of personalized notecards. Is this an exception?

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