The Lost Art of the Thank You Note

January 2021

Dear Caitlin and Chris, 

Thank you so much for the gorgeous candles and candlesticks. They look so nice on our dining room table. What a great idea to give us different colored candles, a set for every season! We had such a nice time visiting…

In our increasingly digital era, a handwritten note seems like a thing from the past.

There is something elegant and timeless about sitting down with a pen and paper. A thank you note is, after all, a basic courtesy. Expressing appreciation and acknowledging a gift, a gesture, a dinner party, a pot of homemade soup…kind acts deserve recognition.

Materials for Writing a Thank You Note 

A personal note makes a positive impact in expressing gratitude. I love going into our local bookstore to pick out stationary. I usually buy blank cards with a bit of weight to them. Usually, the heavier the weight of the paper, the more impressive it will feel in the recipient’s hand. I prefer blank cards so I can add my personal touch to the note. I have also been called a “pen snob” as I love the way a really nice pen glides across the paper.

Having these basic materials on hand, along with the stamps, makes it easy to write a note and slip it into the mailbox.

Courtesy: Joanie Joplin

Elements of a Thank You Note

There is a basic format one could follow. A personal thank you note, or letter, has five elements:

  • Date
  • Greeting
  • Body
  • Closing
  • Signature

The body of the note is where you express thanks and add specific details, such as where you would display the gift or how much you enjoyed the authentic Italian dishes served at a dinner party. In other words, putting personal thoughts into your note is a powerful, sincere way of communicating.

Timeliness is also something to keep in mind…

A good timeframe is within a month after an event, such as a party or a shower. I try to acknowledge gifts or acts of kindness within a week while it’s still fresh in everyone’s minds.

Just recently, I wrote a thank you letter to my daughter and future son-in-law, who hosted Christmas for the family in their new home. It came from my heart. I recognized (because I know full well) the amount of work it takes to host a big holiday. I mentioned how beautiful and cozy their new home is and how proud I am to see the life they are building together. I wanted to make sure they knew how much I liked the French coffee press they gave me.

When I saw her boyfriend a few days later, his first comment was: “Thank you so much for your letter. That was so nice.” I knew it made an impact, just as their hard work and love made an impact on me Christmas Day.

Words written from the heart, with grace and compassion, will always have an impact. In your best handwriting, of course!


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