#1 It’s simply good ole fashioned manners to do so!
There’s nothing like getting a hand written note in the mail. A personally addressed envelope, a pretty stamp, the quality of paper…all of this creates a sweet something to open. What I truly love most is seeing the individual handwriting of the person who sent it, and reading their thoughtful message. You can actually hear their voice through the written words. It’s a beautiful thing.
Growing up, our parents taught us to write thank you notes to people who gave us gifts. My mother will tell you that “manners were so important and expected. Everyone wrote thank yous.” It was no different for us. To help make the process more enjoyable, we received our very own personalized stationary at times. It was a treat to own. I actually still have some from years ago.
Receiving and writing letters and thank yous through the mail seems like a lost art. Before the internet and cell phones, writing letters was a normal way to communicate. I know my parents loved getting them from us while we were away at camp, during our travels to friends homes or internationally. (I can still see the special “airmail” stamp on the international envelopes. and remember the unique feel of the paper.) Our letters helped them know what we were thinking, experiencing and doing. They had a little glimpse into our days, where ever we were.
When my husband and I became parents, we made it a priority to teach our children the importance of writing thank you notes and being grateful. With the digital age as it is, it’s so easy to communicate through email, a quick text (that doesn’t always use correct English), or through social media. The heart and thought that goes into a handwritten note of gratitude leaves an impression upon the person receiving it…so much more so than a text.
Our kids started out simply.
We’d help create the format for their thank you notes by allowing them to fill in the blanks. This helped them learn the process. As they got older, I’d make sure to read their notes before they went into the envelope. I did this to make sure they were expressing thoughtful sentiments, not just a “canned” response. Their thank you notes mainly went to those who gave them gifts, whether for their birthdays or Christmas.
As they get older, in addition to gifts, they now write thank you notes to people who’ve extended help in various ways such as writing college recommendation letters, meeting with them to discuss their interests, interviews, etc. For the first time, we personally received one from our oldest daughter who’s away at college. The genuine and expressive words she shared touched our hearts, and brought tears to my eyes. We could truly feel her gratitude, and we smiled because this skill she learned and embraced is one that she’ll have for life…and most undoubtedly will carry on to her children.
The art of gratitude goes a long way in building relationships with others. It shows the person you that you care about them and you appreciate what they did for you. When you take time to select the perfect note card, write from your heart, and address it with care, you leave a lasting impression.
I heard of a high school classmate, years ago, who got married. She came from an affluent family who was well respected in our town. While I was not invited to the wedding, I’m sure it was stunning. What truly stunned me though was when I learned that she never wrote thank you notes for the gifts she received. She felt the gifts were an “expected” gesture for each invitation that was sent; therefore, a note of gratitude wasn’t necessary. That attitude reminds me of “entitlement”, a trait many parents are trying to steer their children away from.
Now what if someone forgets to write a thank you note?
It happens. We’ve all been guilty of it at some point, I’m sure. I know I have. If you sent a gift and didn’t hear back from the receiver, you can politely ask if they received it. Etiquette experts agree to wait about three months before inquiring. The reason you want to ask is to make sure it didn’t lost. (My daughter’s birthday gift was lost in the mail, and is still yet to be found months later.) Some people forget and life happens. At the end of the day, it’s always important to be considerate of others people’s effort, time and money that goes into gift giving.
Expressing gratitude is a sign of etiquette and simply…it’s just good ‘ole fashioned manners.
Who should you send a thank you note to?
- All gift givers whether it’s a tangible item, money or their time.
- If you receive the gift in person, a verbal thank you is typically enough.
- If you meet with someone for an interview, or use their time to learn something from them, a verbal is good, followed by a hand written note a couple weeks later (at the most.)
- If someone goes out of their way for you, always send a written note.
- In this day and age of texting and email, hand written notes make you stand out and leave a positive impression upon others.
- Types of people you thank will include family members, teachers, potential employers, service providers, coaches, friends, parents of friends, etc. The list is truly limitless.
When should thank you notes be sent?
- Birthday or Holiday gifts: within a week of receipt
- Wedding gifts: within 3 months
- Congratulatory gifts (i.e. graduation, promotion, etc.): within a week of receipt
- Interviews or Meetings: within two weeks of meeting date
- Thank you gifts: within two weeks of receipt
- Congratulatory cards if sent with a personalized hand written note: within 2 weeks of receipt
- College or Interview Recommendation letters: within 2 weeks
- Gifts received when sick: when you feel better. Or someone else can write on your behalf.
- Sympathy gifts: within a month
What should be included in a thank you note?
- Greeting: Include the person’s name. Use first names if they are a personal relationship. Use Mr., Mrs. or Dr. if a more formal reply is necessary.
- Why you are writing. For example, “I hope this finds you well. I’m writing to you because…
- The gift received (tangible or intangible).
- Why you appreciate the gift. Share how you plan to use it or how it benefits you.
- What their relationship means to you.
- A good closing remark and salutation (i.e. love, all my best, with deep appreciation, etc.). Never just sign your name without a proper “goodbye”.
Where to buy great thank you notes? Here are some of our favorite places:
- Kate Spade
- Nieman Marcus: be sure to check out Boatman Geller!
- Of course, a handmade card makes everything even more special. Check Pinterest for great ideas!
Extra special touches:
- Order customized return address labels or stamps.
- Emboss your address into the envelope.
- Use a favorite pen to make the writing process enjoyable.
- Create a special time to write you notes of thanks.
Never forget that your sincerity, integrity and kindness matter, especially to those who do something for you. As Emily Post once shared, “the hand written note shows that you care enough to invest in yourself by acknowledging others.” That simple investment of your time to express your gratitude reaps great rewards, personally and in others.
What’s one thank you note that you’ll treasure forever? Please comment below. If more people understand how a simple thank you can leave a positive impression upon someone…maybe we can impact the world…one thank you note at a time!