Apr 30, 2010

How to write a heartfelt thank-you note

Writing thank-you notes has always been one of my "specialties." I wouldn't say that there are more than two or three things that I do REALLY well, as in better than most other people, but writing genuine thank-you notes is something I've always put a lot of effort into and that people have always seemed to appreciate about me.

Many people writing a thank-you note start with a greeting, dash off two sentences of awkward thanks, and then finish with a closing. THAT, my friends, does not a fantastic thank-you note make! THAT is the kind of thank-you note that the gift-giver knows was written out of obligation and in haste.

I bring to you today some good news: it is NOT HARD to write a great thank-you note! Here is my best -- and really ONLY -- tip: Write it as if you were talking to the gift-giver at the moment you opened the gift. Your own voice and your true emotions will shine through and mean so much more than trite expressions of generic thanks ever would! And even if you don't absolutely love the gift, there are still ways to thank someone adequately without fibbing.

Let's look at some examples ...

Something You Love


Thank you so much for the Creative Memories gift card! We've been on a new budget and I've cut way back on things like scrapbooking materials, and I'd thought I wouldn't be able to get those new green and purple papers until my birthday. I can't wait to call Laura and order them! Cropping with you and Honor is one of my favorite things in the world, and you know how much I like to have all the supplies I could possibly need right at my fingertips -- and now I can order everything I need for the next crop! Thanks again so much for thinking of "just the right thing."


(I wouldn't have been that formal with her in person, but those are the same thoughts I would have conveyed in a more casual tone had we been together.)

Something You Don't Just Love


Thank you so much for the beautiful turquoise rooster lamp you had delivered for my birthday! I am a firm believer that every room in a home needs a pop of color, and this shade of turquoise has special significance because it reminds me of the color of the water in Hawaii, where we celebrated our 10th anniversary. I haven't decided which room it will look best in yet ... but since none of our rooms have particularly good natural light OR overheard lighting, it will serve as much-needed task lighting in almost any room in the house. You were so thoughtful to remember me on my special day!


Something You Already Own


Thank you so much for the fantastic grill tool set you gave us for hosting your going-away party! You may have noticed as Grayson flipped burgers that our existing set is definitely looking a little worse for the wear ... I'd been thinking about shopping for a new set, but I hadn't made it a priority. Now I don't have to! We're gearing up for a long season of grilling -- which is one of our favorite things to do, and we do it several times a week in the Spring and Summer -- so we will get a lot of use out of this new set beginning immediately! Thanks again so much for thinking of us and making the effort to choose such a practical, much-needed gift for our entire family.


Something You Didn't Want Your Kids to Have


Thank you so much for the Play-Dough/Moon Sand/Water Gun/ combo set! You have no idea how excited the boys are to have so many new things to play with! I've seen the ads on Disney and Cartoon Network for this particular set, due in large part to the fact that Nathaniel usually pauses the TV when they come on, comes and gets me and says, "MOMMY. WE REALLY WANT THIS. Please put it on my Wish List." So you can tell that it was really important to them! I look forward to setting them up on the deck with all their new toys and supervising as they play with all of the components, because I'm sure they'll be entertained for hours. Hey! Maybe I'll even get a few pages of a book read while they play.  ;)  Thanks again so much for thinking of them!


I'm not saying that these are my best efforts or anything ... clearly it's easier to write when they're real gifts and I take a few minutes to think about how I can personalize each note to the giver, if possible. But my point is that it doesn't take much more effort to tell someone how you plan to use the gift and/or how much you'll enjoy it than it does to just say thanks and you hope to see them again soon.

With Jake's birthday just recently and my birthday coming up, I'll have used quite a few stamps by the time June arrives. But I love letting people know how much their gifts mean to us, and I hope that this post will help you in some small way as you write your next note to a friend!


Lisa said...

Is that a clue as to what you want for your birthday?

Sewconsult said...

Excellent! I just groan when I get a pre-printed, generic thank you not from a bride. The only real pre-printed thank you that I do willingly accept is from someone who has lost a loved one. Sometimes, grief just keeps the words from coming from me. I know that when I do get a personal note from someone who has experienced a death, it is extra special that they took the time to write.
In that same vein of thought, I do try to make a sympathy more personal by adding a memory of their loved one or some personal comment.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Lisa, Ha! (Yes.) (But I'm sure I would have ended up with that anyway.)

Beckie, I don't think I've ever gotten a pre-printed thank-you note from a bride. And I actually don't expect them from people anymore, but I do like to send them. The art of letter-writing at ALL is fading quickly, but people still love to get mail. ;)

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