How To Write a Charming Thank You Note

Write a stand-out thank you note to a hostess or gift-giver with our tips for a thoughtful, sincere message.
Jennifer Beeler

Many people underestimate the power of the hand-written thank you note. Some think it is better to send an immediate e-mail or simply say thanks in person. But, a hand-written note is the ideal way to show your appreciation. With the ever-growing popularity of technology, the art of writing an “old-school” note is being lost. It may seem daunting and maybe a bit archaic to pick up a pen and a stationery card, but just remember these tips and you’ll soon be a pro.

Thank You Note Do’s

  • Handwrite the thank you 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.

Thank You Note Don’ts

  • 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.

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