Whether you’re basking in the glow of holiday gifts, a fantastic dinner party, or just a kind gesture, there’s nothing better than doubling everyone’s joy with a thoughtful thank-you card. In a world gone paperless, cards are tangible pieces of mail that can brighten up anyone’s day. Not to mention … they’re a warm showing of good manners.
As heartfelt as our emotions of gratitude or thankfulness may be, putting them into words can be challenging. Sure, anyone can jot down a perfunctory piece, but that’s a waste of a stamp. Truly expressing just how grateful you are takes a bit of time and thought.
Here are some tips to help you write great thank-you cards.
1. When to send a card after the gesture
Everyone likes to be appreciated, and the gesture of sending a thank-you card can mean a great deal to the person you’re thanking. And hey, if you like getting gifts, it’s a good way to ensure that your grumpy Aunt Edna won’t take you off her list.
As for timing, it’s better to send one late than never, but in general, etiquette experts say thank-you notes should be sent within three weeks to a month—the sooner, the better.
For big events like weddings, you have a little longer to send out thank-you notes for the gifts: three months, according to etiquette gurus at The Emily Post Institute—but not an entire year, as some procrastinators would prefer.
2. Choose your words wisely
The word thank can be traced back to Middle English before 1500. And while thank you is a timeless phrase to express gratitude, there are plenty of other words you can use to express the same sentiment, including grateful, indebted, and appreciative.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through too and to write as you would speak. Phrases like “You rock!” or “Stay awesome!” can keep your note from sounding stale.
3. Get detailed
Details can transform a thank-you note from cursory to heartfelt. If you’re thanking someone for a gift, make sure you name the gift. Tell them what you like about it, and how you have been or will be using it. Include a picture of you with the gift for an extra-special touch.
If you’re thanking someone for a gesture or experience they provided, let them know how it made you feel, why it was so significant to you, and how it made a difference. For example, if you’re thanking someone for a dinner party they hosted, include a fun example about the night or ask for the recipe of a dish you enjoyed.
4. How to sign off
When signing off, you can use the standard love or sincerely, depending on your relationship with the recipient, but you can also get more creative.
Sign-offs like warmly, affectionately, and friends always are standard options. Wondering how to use a comma in a sign off … we’ve covered that one too.
5. Don’t forget to proofread
While it’s the thought that counts, you don’t want those thoughts to be littered with typos and grammar errors.
Take the time to proofread your thank-you note, paying special attention to the spelling of names because nothing says “I wrote this in a hurry” like misspelling the recipient’s name.
6. Thank-you emails: yes or no?
Again, any note is better than no note, but there’s something about getting a card in the mail that makes a thank-you note a bit more special.
Notes sent via email may be fine for small gestures or for events to which you were invited by email, but when in doubt, always send a handwritten card.
The bottom line on thank-you notes
For gestures and gifts big and small, you can never go wrong sending a thank-you note. Well, that is, if you follow these tips above.
While writing thank-you notes can be challenging, it’s a great challenge to have, and one that should be embraced with gratitude because you have people in your life doing thoughtful things for you. Return the favor!