Thank You Notes (Part 1): In Defense of the Thank You Note

Thank you notes are important. They acknowledge thoughtfulness, let someone know you’re thinking of them and most importantly say “Thank You.” In today’s world where being gracious and humble are not values practiced regularly, I am standing up and saying thank you notes are important! Keep reading for my reasons why and tips on writing a thank you note that will bring a tear even to Chuck Norris’s eye.

So many ways to say "Thanks!" So little time

Let’s be real here: everyone likes receiving mail that isn’t junk or bills. I will also go out on a limb and say that folks generally like feeling appreciated. Saying thank you is the perfect occasion to bust out some classy note cards and express your sincere appreciation for someone else and it is going to make them smile when they open their mailbox and see something that isn’t a bill. To me, there really is no downside. But when should I send a thank you note? The short answer is: any time you feel thankful for something or someone.

Why write and send thank you notes?

1) Folks like feeling appreciated. Appreciation is priceless. You don’t need to embarrass someone and shine a spotlight on them to say thanks. A thank you note is intimate, it’s personal and (hopefully) sincere. A good thank you note will leave the recipient feeling acknowledged and appreciated and probably put them in a good mood. Pay it forward, anybody?

2) It keeps communication open between two people. A thank you says: I see you, I appreciate you and I am thankful to have you in my life. Opening up lines of communication has endless amounts of positive reactions. No one wants to be the black-hole friend: always taking and never giving back. Thank you notes, at a minimum, acknowledge others’ generosity and thoughtfulness.

3) Here is the selfish one: folks are more likely to do things for you if they feel like you see them and appreciate them. If you make someone feel appreciated, I guarantee they’re way more likely to do something nice for you again in the future. It has the possibility to build tighter bonds with those around you and keep your relationships healthy and positive.

Occasions for sending thank you notes:
– Receipt of a gift (birthday, wedding, holiday, graduation, etc.)
– After a job interview
– As a response to a kind act (why, thank you for rescuing my cat from that tree)
– In response to a friend/family member/coworker treating you to something (meal, show, cup of coffee, pedicure, ski trip)
– After receiving exceptionally good service (at a restaurant or store)
– When returning something you borrow from a friend
– For helping you complete a task and/or a job well done
– For being a good friend/lover/coworker/teacher/boss/person

Seriously stylish Kate Spade Thank You Notecards

Key features of a good thank you note:

1) Nice stationery/note card.
Although this may seem frivolous, it is still important. Your stationery choice is a reflection of you, your style and the tone of the note. This doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. You can find some really nice note cards at grocery stores. This card is meant to represent you, your appreciation and your gratitude to the recipient. Find something that fits. Personally, I love bright colors, vintage patterns and ecoconscious materials. I tend to go for handmade, fair trade papers or recycled paper printed with soy-based inks. I get a lot of my note cards at Target, bookstores and at TJ Maxx/Marshall type stores.

2) Address the person my name.
Examples: “Dear Ben, ” “Hi Suzy!”

3) Thank them for what you’re thanking them for. Be specific! Correction, be specific unless it’s money. In that case, be kind and vague.
Examples: “Thank you for taking me to see Wicked in New York last Friday night.” “Thank you for taking the time to interview me on Tuesday.” “Thank you for helping me find a dress for my class reunion.” “Thank you for the quickie this morning.”  $: “Thank you for your generous gift.”

4) Give additional detail of your appreciation and/or how you will use the gift. This should be sincere and heartfelt.
Examples: “I enjoyed the show very much.” “I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you in person about my skills.” “Your muscles always look so sexy in the morning light.” $: “I am planning to utilize it to buy books for college.”

5) Build a connection for the future. This part is very much open to interpretation and depends on how well you know the person. Now is a good time to update on what’s coming up next in your life, extend an invitation of your own or express interest in future connection. Just because this part is more open-ended does not make this any less important; this is really about the connection and building a relationship piece. You want to be sincere and genuine but it’s also an opportunity to build your future relationship and give the recipient something to look forward to.
Examples: “You are welcome to visit and stay with me in Boston any time.” “I look forward to visiting you on my winter break from school.” “I hope that I can speak with you about the position again in the near future.”

6) Say thank you again. Just do it. No. It’s not too much.
Examples: “Thanks again!”

7) Closing and signature. Do pick an appropriate closing for the tone of the note and your relationship.
Examples: “Warm wishes,” “Best,” “Peace,” “Cheers,” “Sincerely,”

Now for a couple of examples in action:

Dear Ms. Sally Smith,
Thank you for taking the time to interview me. I very much enjoyed meeting you and having the opportunity to speak about my skills and how I can bring them to your company. It was nice hearing how well your staff works as a team to accomplish tasks. I would love the opportunity to speak with you about this job opportunity again in the future. Thank you again for your time.
Best, Sarah Mojo

Chuck Norris,
Thank you for the amazing night. I really enjoyed your home cooked meal, red wine and the cuddling on your 700-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Those dark chocolate crepes with strawberries for breakfast really were an unbelievable way to start my day. I love having you as my man friend. Thank you again for your companionship and sweet sweet lovin’.
See you later, Sarah Mojo

Hi Aunt Betty,
Thank you for the birthday card. I really appreciate your gracious gift. I am planning to put it toward my trip to France this summer. I will be sure to bring back your favorite bottle of Bordeaux and come armed with photos of my adventure when I return. Hope you enjoy the rest of your spring flowers. Thank you again.
Love, Sarah Mojo

In conclusion, thank you notes are an important way to express gratitude for the people in our life and the experiences we enjoy. Not only will they make you feel good but they’ll put a smile on the face of your recipient. I love them and write them often. At the same time, I know not everyone feels the same – which is why you should check out my friend Susan’s piece on Wednesday afternoon: Thank You Notes: Part 2 – Rage Against the Thank You.

30 thoughts on “Thank You Notes (Part 1): In Defense of the Thank You Note”

  1. I love thank you notes!  I have boxes of them and try to do them whenever I receive gifts (though I often fall short).

    My question is: is it a bit wrong of me to resent those who I don’t receive thank you cards from?  I attended a friend’s wedding a few months ago, helped out and gave a gift and received no card.  Is it just not something everyone does?  Maybe this is something Susan will cover on Wednesday!

     

      1. Thank you!  I said to my partner this morning that I was so glad I was getting internet support on this one!  They are both crazy busy and have been hitting other major life moments in the meantime so that may be it, but I’ve been feeling rather resent-y.

    1. I don’t think its wrong at all. My mom totally judges people on whether or not they send thank yous. She uses it to decide whether or not she will send gifts, checks, rsvp for their parties etc in the future. Personally I find it comical watching her debate these things over the receipt (or lack their of) of a thank you.

      On the flip side, I will say that when she receives a particularly nice thank you she will go out of her way to be nice and spend more $ on them/their family in the future.

      I say- judge away.

  2. I love the thank you note, but detest my handwriting. So, I purchased an old typewriter et voila!  A personalized, yet legible, thank you note.

    So torn, however . . . I agree with Susan on a fairly consistent basis . . . interested to see what Wednesday brings.

    Side note – does anyone else ever feel like a giant narcissistic turd when they see their avatar and only their avatar in the “What you’re saying” column?

    1. I think I may need to skip Susan’s Wednesday post. I always agree with her…and I am very in favor of thank you notes…I don’t want to get in a fight. :)

      Oh my gosh, how charming is a old-timey typed thank you? I love that! I actually like my handwriting fine, but that is a brilliant idea.

      That happens to me, too…filling up the “what you’re saying” column. And I like to think I’m not a giant narcissistic turd, haha. I’m just chatty!

  3. This is very timely, as I plan on spending all of my next day off writing thank you notes to my friends and family for shower gifts. I did them for co-workers when they chipped in and got me some lovely and very generous gifts. I was surprised that they actually came up and thanked me for the cards. I didn’t realize that it wasn’t something that people didn’t really do anymore.

  4. I’m so glad that my mom made me do thank-you notes for every single present I ever received while growing up.

    I think the best thank-you I ever got was when, during a very busy week, I rushed paperwork for someone (I worked at a Not-for-Profit, we had a ton of events that week, but someone in another office needed some paperwork done ASAP). I managed to turn it around same-day. The next day, I come in to work, and there were flowers on my desk. Not just any flowers. Orange tulips, which, pro-tip if any of you ever send me flowers, are my FAVORITE FLOWERS EVER. She didn’t know that they were my favorite flowers, but said that since she was coming to our office that day, she wanted to get me flowers as a thank-you.

    Not gonna lie, I almost cried.

  5. Since I’m a writer for Hallmark and pretty much all my friends are too, thank-you notes are a big thing, and I love it. I’ve saved so many notes from friends thanking me for gifts, lunches out, or just being there…they not only make me feel appreciated in the short term, but they’re long-term reminders of good things, too.

    I owe a friend of mine one right now. She took me out on Saturday for tea and delicious desserts to celebrate my latest book contract. How amazing is that?

    I love the advice on how to write a thank-you note here. It’s perfect!

      1. Oh, I’ve worked there forever. It really is a fun job–I’m very lucky. I started out as an editor, which meant I told writers what we needed and decided which pieces of writing became cards, etc. To get a writer or editor job, you have to provide a portfolio of samples along with your application. Obviously related experience is good, but you don’t need prior greeting card experience per se. :)

  6. My mother is baffled by the fact that I write thank-you notes b/c she never “taught” me to do so. I don’t know where I picked up the habit, but I am a big fan, and think it’s the most graceful and wonderful thing to either give or receive a thank-you note. I even send them to my grandmother for my annual $10 birthday check. :) Bonus: TY notes are pretty inexpensive. Hallmark has blank thank-you notes (very bottom shelf) for $3-$5 a box for 10. They are pretty/classy/fun, depending on your taste!

    1. I love the $10 birthday check from grandma- that made me so nostalgic. And made me miss some of my great aunts who have passed away in recent years.

      You’re totally right on the point that they’re cheap and fabulous. So chic. Bonus indeed.

  7. I have memories of the many hours my mom made me sit at the kitchen table writing thank you card after thank you card for every occasion, so now I do it almost automatically. Bonus, though, it totally won over my in-laws when I sent a thank you card the first time we went to visit for the weekend when the Mister and I were dating.

    1. Agreed and agreed! My mom is a stickler on Thank Yous- but I clearly appreciate it now. I too have won over many a boyfriend’s parents with my notes- good point! I forgot about that. Definitely an additional bonus for why Thank Yous are fantastic.

  8. I went on a buisness trip to do some product training out of town. After the trip I sent thank you cards to the presenters. (Some of them had even helped me out with getting rides to and from the airport, and some of them are kinda like bosses to me, so it seemed not only nice but prudent.)

    A little while later, I got an email from one of them with the subject line “I’ve seen the unicorn!” Well ok then coworker in another state who may be off his meds, tell me about this unicorn. In the email he basically gushed about how nice it was to get a thank you note and how they were rare “like unicorns.” It was kinda cute.

    That said, I don’t use thank you notes a lot in everyday life, but I do whip them out for big favors/gifts. They are however a mad effective business tool.

      1. Totally- and you can wow your future recipients with your vintage sensibilities.

        But really- if you don’t believe in them make sure you check out Susan’s article on Wednesday. Even though I <3 thank yous I have to admit she has put together a great article against the thank you note.

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