For daily wit & wisdom, sign up for the Almanac newsletter.
No content available.
If you still haven’t gotten around to writing a thank-you note, we say that it’s never too late to show gratitude. Thank-you notes are not only a sign of good manners, but also a good gesture for your own health! Here are the oft-forgotten fundamentals of writing a thank-you note.
Why write a thank-you note?
A study in Psychological Science showed that writing a thank you letter both improves the giver’s happiness and put the writer in more positive spirits. That’s the power of gratitude!
While many thank-you letter writers get concerned about the exact words they use, it turns out that the recipients were simply touched at the warmth and thoughtfulness of the letter itself.
So, starting writing thank-you notes—and write them more often! It comes at very little cost and benefits everyone.
Which occasions require a thank-you note?
A gift traditionally requires a thank-you note from the recipient, no matter what the occasion for the gift—a holiday, birthday, anniversary, religious event, award, or accomplishment.
Thank-you notes are also recommended when services have been performed (especially as a favor or for free), when hospitality has been provided, or in appreciation of generosity or thoughtfulness.
When should a thank-you note be written?
Immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it becomes, and the less appreciative you will appear.
What is needed for a thank-you note?
Traditionally, a blue or black ink pen on fine stationery, a blank card, or suitable notepaper.
How do I write a thank-you note?
Write a draft first. Before using your “good” paper, gather your thoughts and jot them on a piece of scrap paper.
Keep each note short—three or four sentences is fine. You can express your thanks just as sincerely as you can in several paragraphs.
Write something personal/emotional about the giver. Do not use the word “I”: A thank-you note is not about you, it is about the person who gave you the gift. Some examples include “You are so thoughtful!” or “How did you know … ?” or “Your presence at [EVENT] was a gift, but the [GIFT] made it a truly special day.”
Comment on what you will do with the gift (especially if it is money) and/orhow you will use the gift (e.g., in school, on vacation, at work, in the kitchen, etc.). Be specific. “Thank you so much for the beautiful set of wineglasses! We really enjoy entertaining, so the glasses will get plenty of use”).
Express your thanks for the gift and the giver, e.g., his or her thoughtfulness or generosity or on what a special place he or she occupies in your family or heart or circle of friends.
Remember: Be authentic, be original, be sincere.
Once you are satisfied with your thank-you sentences, write them on the “good” paper.
Start with “Dear [NAME],”
End with cordial regards, e.g., “Sincerely,” or “With love,” or “You’re the best!” or “Yours truly,”
Sign the thank-you note.
Address the envelope, put a postage stamp on it, and mail it.
Can I print—not write in cursive—a thank-you note?
Printing a thank-you note is acceptable, but cursive is a nice touch (as long as it’s legible).
Can I just say “thank you” verbally to the giver?
You can—and should—say “thank you” to the giver when you receive a gift, but a proper appreciation should be expressed on paper and sent by mail.
Can I use email, social media, or the phone to say “thank you”?
You can express your thanks in those ways, but nothing beats a thank-you note written on paper and sent in an envelope. Especially these days—when almost everything is already online—it’s nice to receive something physical!
If I do not like the gift, do I need to send a thank-you note?
Yes—but if you do not like a gift, do not reveal your displeasure in the note. Focus on your appreciation of the giver’s thoughtfulness, generosity, and good intentions. Remember the adage “It’s the thought that counts.” Keep an open mind: You may actually develop a fondness and appreciation for the item later.
What difference will a thank-you note make?
If you send a thank-you note, you and the gesture will never be forgotten. If you do not, you will not be forgotten either, but not for the same reason nor with the same regard.
At what age should kids send thank-you notes?
It’s a great idea to get children in the habit of writing their own thank-you notes by preschool age. If your child can’t write yet, transcribe the note for them and have them write (or scribble!) their name at the end. Recipients—whether grandparents, other family members, or friends—are guaranteed to be delighted!