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How do I Write a Thank You Note?

By Deborah Ng
Updated May 17, 2024
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Everyone knows it's proper to say thank you after receiving a gift or good deed, but many people don't realize that there's a proper way to thank people. When it comes to expressing gratitude and letting someone know you really appreciate the thoughtfulness, it's all in the delivery. It's best to send a brief, personal note as soon as possible.

  • Don't hesitate. Never wait more than 30 days to send a thank you note, unless you are on a honeymoon. In that event, you should send the card within two months. Waiting too long to send a note tells the gift giver you really don't appreciate her generosity.

  • Make it personal. Rather than sign your name to an amusing card purchased at the gift shop, use stationery or plain note cards instead. Never type a thank you — write it in ink. The recipient will appreciate your taking the time to express yourself.

  • Get to the point right away. Thank you cards should be short and sweet:

    Thank you ever so much for the charming vase. I'm sure it will add a touch of class to whichever room I choose to use for its display.

    As you can see, the writer of the note thanked the gift giver immediately and let her know how the gift would be used, all in the first paragraph. You also cannot tell by this paragraph whether the recipient loved or hated the gift. This is key, because no matter how you felt about the gift, you should always be gracious and acknowledge the thought.

  • Acknowledge gifts of money without actually mentioning the amount.

    Thank you so much for your generous gift. We're going to deposit it in an account to save for a down payment for a new home.

    Here, the writer lets the giver know the gift was appreciated no matter what the amount and that it will go to a good cause.

  • Give thanks for hospitality. If you've been a guest in someone's home, especially for a weekend or longer, a thank you note is in order as well. It should follow the same guidelines as if one received a gift; however, the opening paragraph should be about the visit.

    John and I had a wonderful time at your beach house last week. We especially enjoyed touring the area's lighthouses. You were right when you said the best seafood in the country could be found on your tiny little island.

    This note expresses gratitude for the host's hospitality but also lets her know that the trip was enjoyable and enlightening. End the thank you note by letting the host know you'd like to offer the same hospitality one day in the future.

  • Remember, this is not about you. Thank you notes are not the time to add humorous anecdotes or job updates. When writing the card, express gratitude to the generous party, jot down a line or two about the gift's purpose, and close with a short paragraph about hoping to speak or visit with the gift giver soon. That's all there is to it.

Thank yous aren't difficult to write, and they don't take much time. By so doing, you let someone special know that you appreciated the time and care spent in doing something nice for you. This will only encourage them to think of you more in the future.

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Discussion Comments
By golf07 — On Nov 10, 2012

@honeybees -- I have noticed the same thing and it isn't just with kids. There are many adults who don't send thank you notes either, which may explain why fewer kids send them.

Most of the thank you notes I do receive are way past 30 days, but I still appreciate receiving a thank you. Sending a late thank you note is much better than not sending one at all.

By honeybees — On Nov 09, 2012
My mom always made sure we sat down and wrote out thank you notes in a timely matter. I did the same thing with my kids, even though this was not always an easy chore. Very few kids actually enjoy sitting down and writing out thank you notes, but I feel it is very important.

I don't think everybody does this like they used to. Of all the graduations and weddings we attended in the last year I think we only received thank you notes from half of them.

Sure it takes effort to write a thank you note card and address the envelope, but I think it is rude when a gift is not acknowledged. Has anyone else noticed this trend or is it just me?

By bagley79 — On Nov 09, 2012

If I give someone a money gift I like knowing what they plan to spend the money on. For example, we received a graduation thank you note from a young man after giving him some money. In the note he thanked us for the gift and explained he was saving the money for a laptop for college. There is always something nice about receiving a thank you note, but when they personally tell you what they plan to do with the gift, it really makes you feel good.

By andee — On Nov 09, 2012

@memories -- I wouldn't say anything either, but it does bring up a good point. There are several reasons to send a thank you note to someone, especially if the gift was sent in the mail.

If you attend an event and give a gift, you know the person has received it. If you send a gift through the mail, you never know for sure the person received it unless they let you know.

I don't think a thank you note wording is as nearly important as just making sure you send one. A few words and few minutes of your time is all it takes to let someone know you received the gift and how much you appreciated their thoughtfulness and generosity.

By cupcake15 — On Jul 14, 2010

Memories- I have had the same thing happen to me. I just chalk it up to inexperience. I personally would not mention it.

Some people offer their gratitude in a more informal manner. Sometimes it’s a phone call to thank you about the gift. Other times the person may invite you over for dinner.

They might not actually say the words “Thank you” but you know they are grateful by their actions toward you. I try to look on the bright side and give the person a chance. It might later develop into a lasting friendship.

By memories — On Jul 13, 2007

I have not received a thank you for a gift I gave for a child's confirmation, is it proper to let the person know that I didn't receive one?

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