Express your gratitude and appreciation with style and grace

writing thank you notes

Thank you notes are hallmarks of graciousness and good manners.  However, many people find writing a good note daunting.  You first have to figure out what to say.  You then have to gather stationery supplies, write the note, and send it out.  And, often you will have to write more than one note.  This article includes tips, tricks, and templates that will help you write personal thank you notes that sincerely express your gratitude and appreciation. Read on for ideas to make your thank you note writing go smoothly and quickly.

When a Thank You Note is Appropriate

In personal situations, write a thank you note if you receive a gift, if someone has done you a favor, or if you have been a guest in someone’s home.

You generally do not have to write a note to a family member you live with.  However, if you are not sure whether you should write a thank you note, err on the side of writing it.  Express your gratitude often, and write from the heart.

Thank You Note Structure

  • State what you are thankful for (a person’s thoughtfulness, generosity, or a specific item). 
  • Be enthusiastic in your appreciation, but do not overstate what you feel.  Keep your writing brief and simple. 
  • Say why you are grateful of the person or the gift.  For example, you can comment on how much you have wanted the gift, how you plan to use the gift, or how you have enjoyed the gift.  You might acknowledge how the giver went out of his or her way to buy or deliver the gift.
  • End your note with a sentence or two unrelated to the gift itself.  You might thank the giver for traveling a long distance to deliver the gift or you might send your regards to other family members.
  • Send your regards and sign your name (e.g., Love, Sally or Sincerely, John).

Thank You Note Templates

To make writing go smoothly, create a draft of your message.  If you are writing multiple notes, a draft can serve as a template.  Here are some templates to get you started:

  • Thank you so much for coming all the way from (place) to share our special day. We really love our new (item) and will think of you each morning when we use it.  Thanks a million!
  • Thank you so much for your generous monetary gift.  I plan to use your gift to buy a (item) – I’ve always wanted one.  I appreciate your thoughtfulness very much!  I look forward to seeing you the next time you visit!  Please give my regards to Sally.
  • Thank you for the lovely sweater.  The weather is cool now and your gift keeps me both stylish and warm!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday season.  Best wishes for a happy and prosperous New Year.

    Motivating Yourself to Write the Thank You Note

    If you find yourself unmotivated to write your thank you notes, remember the words of Leslie Harpold:

    “As extra motivation, I will also grudgingly tell you the hidden secret of thank-you notes: They improve the frequency and quality of the gifts you receive. People like being appreciated, and if they feel you actually notice the nice things they do for you, they’re more likely to give an encore performance.” – How to Write a Thank You Note 

    With tongue in cheek, Harpold also cautioned against strategically not sending thank you notes to those who give you gifts you do not like.

    Other Tips

    • Prepare your supplies and make it easy for yourself.  Select a note card that folds over. Small fold-over cards are ideal as you can keep your message short and simple. Invest in a good pen. Buy stamps. Keep all of your supplies (notes, pen, gift log, address book, and stamps) in an easily accessible spot, preferably on the table where you will do the writing.  Don’t forget that you can take your supplies on the go for writing a couple of notes when you have a few minutes between appointments!
    • Handwrite the note.
    • When you receive a number of gifts on special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and Christmas or other winter celebrations, take the time to carefully record the each gift next to the gift-giver’s name.  Keep your address book handy with the names and addresses of the gift-givers so that you can quickly address the envelope as you write each thank you note.
    • Be prompt.  But, understand that a late thank you note is better than no thank you note at all.  Keep your thank you note short and sweet, and send it in the mail as soon as possible.
    • Consider doing two or three at a time instead of writing all the notes in one sitting.
    • If you have a lot of notes to write, use a template and similar phrases.  However, avoid making general remarks that thank the giver for the nice “gift” or “present.”  A possible exception to this rule might be when a giver gives a lot of smaller gifts at the same time.  For example, one Christmas, my young daughter received a doll, two books, a game, a pack of stickers, playing cards, and a T-shirt from the same generous person.  We decided it would be acceptable for her to write, “When I opened your box, it was like opening up a treasure chest!  I love all the gifts, and I immediately played the game with my Mom and Dad.”
    • While you should strive to write a paper thank you, you might opt to use e-mail to send your note.  If you do, be sure to send your thanks to the person instead of a mass thank you.

    • Are you stuck because you don’t completely understand or appreciate the gift?  Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, suggests responding to the spirit of the well-intentioned gift.  Expressing gratitude for a person’s thoughtful spirit as opposed to the gift itself may help you. 

    While you might feel overwhelmed as you write your thank you notes, remember that thank you notes say something about who you are and the story you want to tell about yourself.  Are you the kind of person who … is appreciative of the kindness and thoughtfulness of others? Is polite and gracious? Is a class act? Hopefully, these tips, tricks, and templates will help you express your gratitude with ease and will make writing your personal thank you notes a breeze.