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Ten Tips for Writing Thank You Notes

(Clairefontaine Les Cakes de Bertrand stationery set)

When it comes to writing thank you notes I have to be honest - I have good intentions, but sometimes I fail to follow through. I have a whole box of blank, un-mailed thank you cards and stationery to prove it! As I write this blog post I have some feelings of regret over missed opportunities to say a more meaningful thank you. What tips can help people like me to express genuine gratitude to others?

1) Make it special. A hand-written thank you note using a real pen and paper is usually far more meaningful and personal than a text message or email. It stands out as something special in a world full of electronic communications.

2) Be prompt. When it comes to writing a thank you note sooner is better! Within a few days is best. It is easiest to write your feelings when your enthusiasm is high plus it displays good manners. If you do delay, limit mentioning the delay to one short sentence in your note and move on to the more important part of the message.

3) Be prepared in advance to be thankful. If I have to go through the whole process of shopping for a card, buying stamps and then trying to get someone’s address before sending out a note of thanks I will admit I am far less likely to get this done. Now that smart phones exist I have made it a point of collecting more up-to-date address information from family, friends and acquaintances and I can actually find that info again when I need it. This is very unlike my old system of writing addresses on scraps of paper that would get lost before the address got properly transferred into my paper address book. I also like to keep some old-fashioned postage stamps around so that I can put my letter in the mail at a moment’s notice. It is helpful to keep some appropriate cards, stationery supplies and a nice pen handy and stored together in the same place if possible.

4) Be specific. If you received a gift, specifically mention the gift by name. For example, “beautiful royal blue fountain pen” or “bright orange Rhodia pad” instead of just using a generic word like “gift” or “present”. If the gift was cash, a gift card or something similar, it is not necessary to mention the amount that the gift was for. Rather you can mention specifically what you plan to use it for.

(J. Herbin wax and seal)

5) Be enthusiastic. Express in an appreciative manner how this gift will help you or enhance your life, your home, your office etc. Write something like: “this fountain pen will be the perfect accessory for writing thoughts in my daily journal. I’ll think of you every time I use it.”

6) Avoid the negative. If something about the gift isn’t quite as you would like, it is not necessary to express these feelings. Avoid saying things such as “thank you for the beautiful fountain pen but I do not like the color blue”.

7) Keep it simple. Do not detract from the purpose of your thank you note by including a bunch of other news. Stick to the topic on hand and focus on thanking the giver. A thank you note does not need to be a whole page of information, a few sentences can be sufficient.

8) Add a personal touch. When words are hard to come by, other things can add a personal touch such as making a thank you card by hand, including a photograph, writing with a fountain pen, choosing a special ink color, writing in calligraphy (I wish I had the talent to do this), or using a wax seal on the outside of the envelope.

9) Conclude with gratitude. Restate your thanks at the end and sign your name.

10) Be happy! I’ve heard that recent studies show that by being grateful we can increase our own happiness.

From you own personal experience, do you have any tips on writing thank you notes that you would like to share?

(Clairefontaine Ladies Who Love Life stationery set)


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I just discovered your blog today, but I think my husband must have been a follower, for there are so many things (inc. Rhodia notebooks) that would have appealed to him. I love the advice re thank you notes.

This is wonderful advice. Every year when I do my charity walk for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, I keep track of the donations I receive and then when I write my thank you notes I refer to the amount. it's just something I feel makes it more personal. I'm proud to say I follow all these ideas and they do make a huge difference to the recipient.

Hi Elizabeth,

I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. I can't imagine what it must feel like losing a companion of 17 years. I wish you success with your blog and your healing. I'm glad the thank you note tips are helpful.

Hi Jen,

Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope your walks can make a difference!

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