The Thank You Note

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The impact of a handwritten thank-you note is often overlooked in today's fast-paced society of electronic messages. A ritual of etiquette, a thank-you note written promptly and sincerely is much more effective and appreciated than a phone call or electronic message. Although email is a great communication tool, it is not meant to replace everything. Having a lot of technology at our fingertips does not mean we should always use it.

Everyone enjoys getting personal mail. A thank-you note is like a gift in itself – a gift of thanks back to the giver. Many people hold on to their cards like souvenirs in order to remember the occasion. Even if you've already said thank-you in person or by telephone, it's still appropriate to send a note, even for close family or friends you see all the time. The results can last much longer than the few minutes it takes. And keep in mind other cultures when you're expressing your thanks with a note or in person. The Vietnamese, for example, place great emphasis on thanking their hosts or gift givers; and the same over-the-top treatment is expected in return.

Thank-you notes are appropriate for receiving a gift, special occasions, invitations to parties, favors and even job interviews. They should be sent within a few days after receiving a gift but no longer than a week. An exception would be a large event, such as a wedding, anniversary or retirement party, in which case you have up to one month to respond. Some thank-you notes can be attached to wedding favors thanking guests for attending.

There is no special template to follow when writing a note. Ten minutes is all the time you need. What to say depends on the situation, but being sincere is what matters most. Below are some tips for writing a thank-you note and the most important tip is to try to write with the same words you would use if you were to thank them in person. In other words, just be yourself.

Tips for Writing Thank-You Notes
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  1. Always send thank-you notes for...
    • Wedding gifts
    • Bridal or baby shower gifts
    • Gifts received during a hospital stay
    • Sympathy gifts
    • Gifts received by mail
  2. Send your note as soon as possible. Generally within one week of receipt, one month to three months for larger events.
  3. Always specifically reference the gift in the note.
  4. Most thank-you notes can be written on informal cards with the exception of wedding thank-you's. A more formal card should be chosen for these thank-you notes.
  5. The note should be brief, saying thank you for the specific gift and how you will use it or add a personal reference. You can also reference the occasion/reason the gift was given and your wishes for the future for the receipt of the note. Close with the appropriate salutation and you are done.
  6. If you are sending a thank-you note for money that you received as a gift, it is best not to mention the amount received. Instead, you might want to say: "Your generosity"...", or "Your thoughtfulness"..." and focus on what will be purchased with the money.

[edit] The Emailed Thank You Note


Of course there are times when it's appropriate to send an e-mail. It all depends on whom you're sending it to. If you have someone who lives on the Internet that would love an email thank you, then that's the person. You can also opt to send an animated thank-you card.

Another time to consider sending an email thank-you is after a job interview. Rather than waiting on the postal service to deliver a note, you can send it out immediately to reiterate your interest in the position. A quick email thank-you, along with a traditional letter or note following is preferred.

Just remember that everyone doesn't appreciate electronic conveniences. An email can convey the feeling that you didn’t feel their gift was worth taking the time and effort to send a personal handwritten note. Therefore, the best way to show sincere gratitude is the old-fashioned way - by taking the time to purchase a card (or, even better yet, make one yourself), write and address it, stick a stamp on it and mail it.

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