The Art of the Thank You Letter

It’s that season again! Graduations and weddings are happening all around us!

Whether you’re among the newlywed set or are holding a freshly minted degree or diploma, chances are the gifts are starting to roll in.

Regardless of the gift or the reason, all have something in common. Your family and friends thought enough about you to carefully select, pay for, wrap and ship gifts to show that they consider your accomplishment special.

Now, it’s time to show appreciation. Enter the long-forgotten-about-, but-still-mandatory thank-you letter!

As the gift recipient, you will want to show appreciation for all acts of kindness and generosity. And, I’m sure you will want to do so in a way that shows that you care enough to take the time to express your appreciation in a respectful, thoughtful way.

Why?

Writing a suitable thank-you letter now will not only help you show gratitude to those you are grateful for today; your ongoing timely and well-written thank you letters will later help you stand out among peers when interviewing for careers, thanking colleagues for the extra help, even for getting in one last word with the admissions officers at the highly selective school you’re praying will admit your future children. The topics will change. But the rules are the same.

Following are some tips to consider as you get started in the art of “thank you” letter writing.

Getting Started

  • Consider ordering personalized stationery or note cards that reflect your personality.

  • If purchasing cards, avoid the ones with the pre-written words on the inside. You're not in the third-grade anymore and all thoughts should be your own.

  • If purchasing paper instead of cards, don’t get the full-sized sheets. Half-sized sheets or smaller are perfect for writing nice, concise notes.

  • Always write in cursive, in blue or black ink.

When

  • Three days is the ideal timeframe for sending a thank-you note. A week is okay, and you can get away with sending a letter within the month.

  • Newlyweds leaving for honeymoons should send within a month of return. Anything longer than a month is poor etiquette, even though some say a year is appropriate.

  • All gifts deserve a card. The litmus test in determining whether someone is “exempt” from receiving a card is “does he or she live under my roof?” If the answer is no, then it’s time to start writing!

How

  • Traditional notes are always handwritten in cursive. Funny thing is that many schools are no longer teaching students to write in cursive, so this rule will probably change in the next 10 years. You know your situation. If you can write in cursive, try to always do so. Never send a type-written note. Not only are they impersonal, they are tacky.

  • Never send the pre-printed, blanket thank you note to a large group of people. This shows you didn’t think enough about that person or gift to sit down and properly give thanks to that individual.

  • For a proper “thank-you,” take the following seven easy steps:

The Seven Steps

1. Write the date at the top of the page

2. Offer greetings: “Dear Aunt Kim”

3. Express gratitude, being specific about what gift has been given: “Thank you for the beautiful pearl earrings.” If the gift was money, simply say, “thank you for your generosity. I plan to buy a sweater I've been watching with the $50 you gave me.”

4. Say something nice about the gift: “Pearls are my favorite stone. I can’t wait to wear them!”

5. Say something nice about the person: “You have always been so considerate and kind. And, you know me so well!"

6. Offer the final thank you: “Heartfelt thanks to you again for such a wonderful gift.”

7. Give regards and sign your name: “Love always, Felicia.”

Sending your Thank-You

  • Since a thank you letter is considered a form of social correspondence, write your name and address on the back flap of the envelope. Center the name and address of the person to whom you are writing on the front.

  • Understand that no other media can replace an authentic hand-written note card. Even if you have thanked someone in person, or by email, on facebook, twitter or on the phone, a card should still be sent by U.S. mail.

  • Other times to send notes are when:

  • You have been an overnight guest in someone’s home

  • An act of kindness has been bestowed upon you (help with a homework assignment, project, etc.)

  • After receiving any gift for any occasion.

I hope you have found this information helpful. Feel free to contact me at Felicia.layeni@verizon.net if you have any questions. In the meantime, happy writing!

Edited Image 2014-4-21-23:32:51