Updated: Oct 4, 2018
by Westley Steele:
As a teenager, my mom and dad always had my brother and I write thank you notes to family and friends after receiving gifts over the holidays and on special occasions. In fact, the stacks of cards got so tall that we eventually felt overwhelmed with anxiety to get those notes in the mail on time; not to mention our forearms were overworked from the styling of our cursive penmanship. However, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the art of writing thank you notes and realize why our parents taught us to display our receipt of kindness to those who were kind to us.
When should I write a thank you note?
A thank you note should be written immediately after receiving a gift from someone—whether it be for a birthday, graduation, holiday, or wedding. From recent experience, I’ve made sure I write my notes within 2–3 days after a gift has been received. That way, the person will be acknowledged in a week’s time for the gift, whether delivered personally or by mail. In this case, the earlier the better. Wedding thank notes should be allotted more time, and the gift giver should receive a note within 1–2 months’ time.
Are there standard formats for thank you notes?
Begin with your traditional heading and formal introduction of thanking the person for the specific gift.
Side note: Your respect is earned in displaying how gracious you are to receive the gift and how you plan to use the gift constructively in your life.
For example, if I receive cash for my college graduation (what person doesn’t want that?!), this sample note may be utilized:
Note: Thank you note for graduation gift:
Thank you for the _________ you gave me upon receiving my Bachelor of _________ degree from _________ University. I appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness as I continue my education and prepare for the future.
I will use your gift towards my graduate expenses and will always remember your kindness.
This and more samples like it that can be found online and adjusted to taste. One good source for examples is: Thebalance.com.
Is there room for Creativity?
Of course! There is absolutely room to display your creativity and personality in these notes. Companies like Hallmark and Papyrus make it easy to purchase and even create your own personalized thank you notes. Taking the time to plan this step really brings a lot of excitement on your part, and also gives you a moment to breathe while you figure out how to write your masterpiece of gratitude.
Is there room for Creativity?
I’ve come to realize that many people of my generation and younger, meaning Millennials and Generation Z, do not plan to give nor receive a handwritten thank you note after providing a gift to a friend or loved one. However, in the older generations, or as they call themselves, the 'Old Guard,' find hand written thank you notes to be proper etiquette, classy, and even a networking tool.
Regardless of a person’s physical age, everyone can appreciate a simple thank you. Treating people fairly and keeping relationships afloat should always be a top priority when formulating your thoughts. Just take it from me; writing a handwritten thank you note will open more doors than they will ever close.