So often we instinctively grab our smart phones and text or message a quick “tx!” or “thank u!” to someone who deserves it for one reason or another. Maybe if we happen to be sitting in front of the computer, we go the extra mile and draft a “thank you” email. I agree, there are instances where the text or email is both necessary and completely appropriate (another mom picks the kids up from practice….or your dad or husband gasses up the car before the big interview).
But there are times where a real thank you note (pen, paper, envelope) is required, such as after a job interview, or in response to a gift. There are times when a thank you note is at least preferable (after a dinner party, or when a friend organizes a “girl’s night out” in honor of your birthday). If you are not sure whether a thank you note is required, think to yourself…”did someone put effort into something with me in mind?” If the answer is “yes,” then return the effort by showing appreciation for the both the gift and the person, and write a real thank you note.
So I alluded to the definition of a real thank you note. The bones of a real thank you note are the pen and the paper.
Pen – use a fine point pen, either blue or black. Colored ink can appear childish and be difficult to read. Before you draft your thank you note, try out the pen and make sure it doesn’t smear (especially if you are a lefty!). Pentel advertises that its EnerGel Deluxe RTX Retractable Liquid Gel Pen, doesn’t smear. Tip: if you come across a blue or black pen that works for you, store it with your stationery so you always have it.
Paper – feel the paper, make sure it’s a weighty yet delicate stock (shameless plug here…all flat and folded notes sold by Paper & Posh and on paperandposhonline.com is guaranteed to fit the bill!). Flimsy paper takes away from the sentiment of the thank you note.
You can buy beautiful pre-printed flat or folded thank you notes just about anywhere (I love love love Target’s thank you note selection, fresh and a decent price point!). Pre-printed thank you notes are fine for children writing their own thank you notes, or less formal thank you’s. Custom thank you notes are a bit more impressive (i.e. everyone should at least have custom stationery on hand for job interviews or for anything wedding related). Shameless plug again…you can design and order custom flat and folded notes at paperandposhonline.com!
Folded notes are more traditional, your monogram or name will be the focal point of the cover and you will write the note on the inside. Flat notes are less traditional, the monogram or name will generally go at the top or bottom of the sheet.
When you get to actually writing the note, put the date in the top right corner. Start with a salutation such as “Dear (insert name here).” Indent your first paragraph. Use an appropriate salutation such as “Sincerely,” “With Love,” “Love,” “Regards,” “Warm Regards,” or “Yours” followed by your signature.
The substance of the thank you note, what you actually write, is where that “effort” really shines through. Stunning custom stationery may get tossed aside without a second thought if the substance is hollow. So what should the thank you note actually say? Again you want to show appreciation for both the gift/occasion and the person.
Start out with “Thank you for the (insert gift here).” If the gift was in fact a “gift of money,” refer to it as a “generous gift.” Do not refer to the actual dollar amount! If it was a blender, say “Thank you for the fantastic blender.” If the person hosted a party, say “thank you for the lovely evening at your home.”
Don’t stop there! Write a sentence or two and tell the person something they don’t know. Be creative but real. Tell them the “generous” gift will be used toward something (college, a much-needed vacation). Tell them that now that you have a blender you will look for recipes for fruit smoothies. Tell the hostess you loved catching up with another guest at the dinner party.
Finally, refer to seeing the person in the future. For example, “I look forward to seeing you again at (insert event here),” “let’s try to get together over the holidays…” or at the very least, “I do hope to see you (or see you again) soon.” Maybe add your cell number or an email address for scheduling.
Remember, you want to show appreciation for both the gift/occasion and the person you are thanking. Especially the thank you note after wedding! Guests come from far and wide, dress to the nines, book hotel rooms, and bear generous gifts. Make sure you add that personal touch when thanking them.
If you are sending a thank you letter after a job interview, the substance differs a bit. Refer to this article on Jobsearch.com for some important guidelines.
Just a few “don’ts.” Don’t ever fib (i.e. “I used the blender last week!” when you actually returned it for store credit). Don’t rush, there is no “delete” key. You can’t cross words out. If you are using expensive stationery you will just cringe if you make a mistake and have to throw out the note! Don’t go overboard with the exclamation points “!” I do that a lot:)
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or to be safe, consult the ultimate etiquette resource, Emily Post (www.emilypost.com) for more tips on thank you note writing.