• Gift Etiquette
  • Oct 1, 2022
  • 4 min read

A Guide to Writing the Perfect Thank You Note

  • Are thank you notes still even a thing in this 21st century? Yes, of course, they are. We all like receiving them. It's sending them that's the challenge. You may wonder what to say and how to sound genuine. The good news is that you only need a few tips before you can send a thank you note with confidence. Don't believe us? See for yourself. We'll walk you through the process of sending the perfect thank you note.

    Set the Tone With Your Greeting

    Begin your note by addressing the gift-giver appropriately. The tone will differ depending on your relationship with the person. You're not going to thank your four-year niece for her hand-drawn picture of her new puppy the same way you thank your boss for inviting you to her home for a cocktail party. You may be on a first-name basis with your niece, but it's safer to address a superior as Mr., Mrs., or Ms. However, if you're aware that the person doesn't use gender-specific honorifics, make sure you use their preferred way of address.

    Highlight the Gift

    Talk specifically about the gift. If you only refer to it as "the gift," it will sound formulaic, as if you copied a template you're sending to everyone on your gift list. So, mention the book, t-shirt, or bottle of wine. You can even go the extra mile and attach a picture of yourself and your gift – GiftList ecards allow you to do just that. You also want to paint a mental picture of how you look forward to enjoying the item. For example, you could go into detail about how the wine will be the perfect accompaniment to a meal you're planning. If you're thanking someone for an enjoyable social event, you want to give reasons why you had a good time. If you don't spotlight at least one remarkable experience you had at the function, the receiver may think you only sent the note out of a sense of duty. So talk about something specific, such as getting to meet someone special at the party or enjoying the live band. Details tell the host that your note is genuine.

    Dealing With the Prickly Subject of Money

    Thanking someone for a financial gift can sometimes feel awkward to both you and the giver. That's why experts recommend not citing the amount of money you received in your note. And often, people aren't comfortable using the word "money" repeatedly. Fortunately, there are substitutes. Try mentioning the person's "generous gift," "financial assistance," or "help at the right time."

    Thanking Someone for Being There For You

    Notes thanking someone for their emotional support can be the most challenging. You want to speak from your heart without seeming overly dramatic. Mention what the person did for you. For example, they may have sat up all night with you to comfort you. Or they may have given you an inspirational talk when your spirits were low. Let them know their actions have affected you and the positive outcome you've experienced. You can even mention what you plan to do now that you're feeling better. Being open with the giver about the impact of their humanitarian act can be the basis for one of the more memorable thank you notes that person will ever receive.

    End on a Positive Note

    If the giver is someone you have regular social interaction with, you can also mention how much you're looking forward to your next meeting. If possible, include the gift in the upcoming event. For example, you could mention the neighborhood barbecue and how you can't wait to wear your new sweater. Before closing your note, thank the giver again, but briefly. Use something as simple as "once again, thank you."

    Keep the Right Tone in Your Closing

    Close your note in a way that matches how you began. In other words, don't close too casually if you begin somewhat formally. Your boss may have invited you to her house, but that doesn't make you besties for life.

    Show Appreciation Year-Round

    A big gift-giving special occasion like a birthday is an obvious time when people think of sending thank you notes. You may have childhood memories of sending notes to your Aunt Freda for those annual Christmas socks. But don't forget to send thank you notes on other occasions. What about sending a note to your neighbors after they kept an eye on your place during your vacation? Did someone at your job stay late to help you tackle a task that wasn't their responsibility? Did friends sacrifice Saturday afternoon to help you paint the guest room? Your life is filled with possibilities for thank you notes.

    How Soon Should You Send It?

    You want to send a thank you note as soon as possible after receiving your gift. Etiquette expert Rachel Wagner says to wait no longer than two or three days. And, if possible, send the note within 24 hours. Previous generations had a more difficult time doing this. They had to restock their monogrammed stationery supply, purchase ink to refill their fountain pen, and scrounge around the back of the desk drawer looking for a stamp. Today, ecards, such as those provided by GiftList, make it relatively simple to send a thank-you note within minutes of opening your gift. But what about thank you notes for wedding gifts? If the couple leaves on a honeymoon, they can't send notes immediately. According to Anna Post, author of Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette, couples have three months to send notes starting from their return from their honeymoon.

    What If You're Late Sending It?

    Everyone in this busy world will likely forget to send a thank you note at one time or another. Soon so many days have passed that we wonder if we should still send it. And, of course, we should. Naturally, you want to acknowledge the note's delay. You can write something like, "Recent events have been so overwhelming that I've failed to reach out to thank you for helping me survive these tough times." Or you could say, "I was reflecting on the kindness I've received when I came to the startling realization that I haven't taken the time to thank you personally."

    It's Time to Send That Thank You Note

    Someone thought enough of you to gift you with their time and resources. Now it's up to you to show appreciation with a personalized thank you note. Within minutes you could send a message that makes a difference in someone's life and in your relationship. So, send that GiftList thank you ecard today.