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How to Write a Thank You Note

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Thank You NoteIn today’s fast-paced world, it can be easy to forget to say “thank you.” And, it often seems as though writing a thank-you note is something that is even more overlooked. My son recently had a birthday. He received plenty of gifts. And, because he’s used to it, he remembered to sit down and write notes thanking all of the givers for his presents.

Writing a thank-you note can be a good way to show gratitude, but also a way to help combat materialism. When you are grateful for something, you turn your focus to the giver, and their thoughtfulness. It’s a good idea to carefully consider the gift, and express your gratitude with a note.

What to Write On

Your first task is to figure out what to write on. Pick out stationery that you like, and that is appropriate. You can choose blank cards with a nice image on front, or even the word “thank you” on the outside. It is also acceptable to use postcards as thank-you notes. Try to keep it to notecard size, since your thank-you should be brief (but genuine).

A hand-written note is a nice touch, and make sure that you use your neatest handwriting.

How to Write a Thank You Note

The steps to writing a thank-you note are fairly straightforward. As you compose your note, follow this basic outline:

  1. Greet the giver by name: Make sure you greet the person who gave you the gift by name. “Dear Aunt Janet,” “Dear Grandma,” “Dear Mom and Dad,” and “Dear Annie” are appropriate ways to address your giver.
  2. Say thank-you for the gift: Next, express your gratitude for the specific gift. If it’s money, though, you don’t need to go into details. You can say “thank you for your generosity” or “thank you for the kind money gift.” The same is true of gift cards; no need to go into the details of how much it was.
  3. Discuss how you will use the gift: You can then mention how you plan to use the gift, or how you will enjoy having it in your home. If it’s money, you can mention that you hope to use it in some way, such as, “It will help as we furnish our home,” or “I plan to use it to help me purchase a new iPad.”
  4. Briefly mention how you hope to see the giver again: You can mention that you enjoyed seeing the person (if you did), or you can mention that you hope to see him or her again soon (“I look forward to seeing you at Christmas”). Don’t go into details about your life, though, or make long-winded remarks. You can even say “thanks again for your thoughtful gift” at the end.
  5. Close: Finally, close your note. Depending on your relationship with the giver, you might use “love,” or “sincerely.” Then, sign your name. Usually, your first name will suffice.

It’s true that you can just fire off a thank-you email, and that is often perfectly acceptable. However, it might be worth it to show a little extra effort and graciousness, taking the time to slow down, and really think about the gift.

(Photo: Daniel Slaughter)

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4 Responses to “How to Write a Thank You Note”

  1. Shirley says:

    Sending thank-you notes is a basic tenet of etiquette and it must be taught and modeled by a child’s parents.

    My own parents ruled that we could not use a gift until the thank-you note was written. In today’s world I feel that an email or phone call are acceptable and a handwritten note is exceptional and highly regarded.

    Our rule is that if we don’t hear or receive a thank-you, there is no further gift since it evidently didn’t mean enough to warrant one.

  2. ziglet19 says:

    I was raised to always write thank you notes, and I have to admit, I am always bothered when someone doesn’t bother to thank me for a gift. I understand not everyone was raised to write a formal note, but if I send a present in the mail, it would be nice to get a phone call, or at least a “thank you” next time I see that person. This drives me crazy!

  3. Shirley says:

    Two teenaged sisters have recently joined our extended family. For birthdays and Christmas we have sent them each a $50 check. The older one responds with a very warm handwritten note, the younger (only two years difference) doesn’t bother with anything.

    Since their birthdays are only two weeks apart, it will be awkward but the younger will not get a check next birthday. I hope she questions that so that I can explain it to her.

  4. April says:

    I only have two questions about this.

    First of all, what if sending any form of written communications is simply not the custom in your family? For whatever reason, as long as I can remember our extended family has avoided using the postal service for anything when at all possible. We don’t send cards or letters, and that goes back to long before e-mail, and pretty much applies to our entire family. On a couple of occasions someone has married a card sender, who quickly discovered that they could send all the cards they liked, but they would never get one in return from our side of the family. If we wanted to thank someone or express a sentiment, we might pick up the phone and call them, or nowadays we might send an e-mail, but in our case it would actually be awkward to start sending anything remotely formal (and before anyone starts moralizing, just remember that different families have different family values. We aren’t all robots).

    Second, and this is more touchy, but what about when you really are NOT grateful for a gift? There’s one person in our family who seems to have a knack for picking out gifts that the recipients (or in the case of kids, their parents) will hate. They seem totally clueless about what constitutes an appropriate gift for a certain age or gender (they’ve been known to give toys intended for much older kids to younger ones, and once gave a college-level science book to a third grader – the kid actually cried when she got that). We go out of our way to AVOID thanking this person, hoping they will get the hint, but it never seems to happen. What do you do when there is someone who you’d rather they kept their money in their pocket and their gifts at home, but they persist on buying and bringing or sending them anyway?


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