When one blogs, especially guest blogs, he or she (read: me) is never sure if the audience prefers random musings, academic insights, or something more practical. Since none of my blogs have been practical thus far, that's what I'll end with. As a way of saying thank you for a wonderful week: I give you my four-sentence formula for writing thank you notes. Although thank you notes are usually written after one receives a gift — wedding presents, birthday surprises, etc. — I encourage everyone to write a thank you note for something a little more unexpected. Thank you for helping me move into my new apartment last week. Or Thank you for taking me out to lunch. When I was in high school I received a thank you note from an acquaintance for lending my ear when she was having a tough time at home. The note caught me completely off guard and meant the world to me. Writing thank you notes of all kinds can keep you in someone's good graces. It is a simple act that demonstrates how much you appreciate what they did and, subsequently, how much you appreciate them. All that being said, the formula below works best after receiving a gift. You have to be a little more creative when thanking for a random act of kindness, which isn't a bad thing.
Thank Them for the Gift: Simple enough, right? Just start off by mentioning the gift itself. For example, "Thank you for the candle holders." Or if you want to go the ultra-enthusiastic Emily Post route you can say, "The candle holders are divine!"
Elaborate on How You Plan to Use the Gift:Take the gift one step further and talk about how you've used it or plan to use it. For example, "We dined with them just last night." Or, "We're having a dinner party this Saturday, and I can't wait to show them off."
If You Didn't Like the Gift: You can skip this sentence. Still thank them for the gift, but there's no need to lie and gush about it if you don't like it. You could also have two sentences thanking them for attending the wedding/party/etc., which is described below.
Thank Them Again for Attending The Soiree: Use the third sentence as an opportunity to enthusiastically thank them for taking the time to attend the main event. For example, "Above all, thank you for traveling such a long to distance to be with us on our wedding day — it really meant a lot to us." Or "More than that, thank you for coming to my birthday dinner." If they were unable to attend but sent a gift then you can tell them how much you missed them. If there was no event, take this time to thank them for being a part of your life. "The real gift here is the gift of you. I'm so glad our friendship continues to withstand the test of time!"
Mention When You'll See Them Again: A good way to end your thank you note is by mentioning when you'll see the person again, "I can't wait to see you at Thanksgiving." Or, "We'll have you over for dinner just a soon as we're settled."
There are no rules to writing thank you notes (only that you write them), but if you use this guide your note should resemble something like this:
The picture frame you sent is gorgeous! It's sitting on the mantle with my favorite photo of us in it. Thank you so much for trekking out to Jersey for my thirtieth birthday party — you looked amazing in that vintage blue dress. I'll see you again at Marci's wedding in August.
Lots of love,
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Books mentioned in this post
Samara O'Shea is the author of For the Love of Letters: A 21st-Century Guide to the Art of Letter Writing