Receiving a written thank you note has never been more appreciated than it is now.
In the era of texting, emailing, Snapchat-ing, WhatsApp-ing, and more, holding a handwritten note from someone you know has become akin to receiving a golden message from an Egyptian tomb of happiness.
Your name has been inscribed, and by hand. The sender has purchased a card, located a box of stationery, or raided the drawer of a significant other looking for paper and an envelope the right size.
They have set aside self-consciousness regarding penmanship (we're all slipping in that area, no?), written words just for you, bought or located a stamp, sealed an envelope and either dropped it into a mailbox, or handed it to a postal employee.
And the sender has definitely thought about how you'll feel when you open their letter. (Which is why they didn't text. It was [and you are, by association], a little too important for a text at that moment.)
Following is a little guide to writing thank you notes I hope you'll find helpful, approachable and inspiring enough to have you grabbing a pen in the next 30 minutes to make someone's day. : )
Stock up to make it easy. Having what you need on-hand - including cards you like for various occasions, some simple stationery, a pen you enjoy using and stamps - means you're always ready to go in sending out your thanks. Keeping a little stash like this at both work and home ensures you can write a note while it's on your mind, which increases the likelihood you'll make it happen and the words you use will come easily and straight from the heart. Customers often come into the Read Between The Lines® shop (or visit us online) to stock up on cards for thank you's, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, babies, get well and condolence. Doing so ensures they always have a card they love at the ready when they need one, and it can go out in the mail same-day.
Remember the small stuff. Notes acknowledging little moments of thoughtfulness are often more meaningful to receive than the thank you's we expect. It's a wow in your mailbox when someone notices something small you've done and says something. Tell folks you appreciate their introducing you to a new business acquaintance or friend. For good advice. For being an exceptional hugger, or listener. For going with you to a movie they weren't excited about. For saying something nice to your child when the little human was scared, or being a total toad. For reminding you to be nice at an important moment. For taking a vacation that inspired you to take one of your own, and make memories you'll have forever.
Don't worry about your handwriting. Very few people actually know calligraphy and/or have beautiful penmanship. In fact, the notes I receive from folks who can't address envelopes for a living are some of the sweetest, because I know they're aware it's not gorgeous, and yet they care about me too much to let pride get in the way of expressing gratitude. 'So-so' penmanship ends up on more refrigerators than the 'perfect' stuff, and is kept in more secret, happy places in a home and in a heart.
Use your own words. My favorite notes are those in which I can hear the person's voice as I read, because their word choices are natural-sounding. A thank you note, unless sent to a business acquaintance or stranger, is freshest when you embrace your you-ness, avoid formality and are open with your feelings. Don't be afraid to sound overly enthusiastic, grateful, excited, over-the-moon - if it's coming from your heart, it will all feel like sunshine on their face, and they will treasure your spirit and vulnerability as much as your thoughtfulness.
Be specific in your praise. If it's a gift you've received, rather than referring to the item in a general sense, provide details. The goal is to, with your words, allow the giver to picture you as you opened their present and where it will fit into your life. Need help or a kick-start? Choose a couple of the following topics to focus on in your note:
- what the gift was (this may seem obvious, however, if someone sent out several gifts at one time during 'wedding season,' or when eight friends all had birthdays in the month of May, the giver may need a reminder as to what they gave you.) Being specific also makes the gift sound more important to you.
- how it made you feel to receive it (i.e., noticed; loved; spoiled; like you belong)
- why it means what it does to you (significance, need, memories, timing, etc.)
- how you plan to use it, with whom and/or where, when, etc. (i.e., I'm taking this book on vacation! I'm lighting this candle when the kids leave for camp! I'm using the new pen to start writing down the goals I'm setting for myself; for meetings as a lucky charm; to begin my first book, etc.)
Engage your inner child and decorate that note UP! Have an old sticker collection sitting around or in a drawer? Get out those bad boys and be full-on silly with the way you use them to decorate the card and/or outside of envelope. You will make someone's day when they check the mail. Another favorite note-decorating tool of mine? Washi tape! Use on envelopes: across a sealed flap or near the person's name. No time for personalizing with stickers, tape and such? Send the note anyway, unembellished. It doesn't need to be decorated to make a difference. : )
Do it now. A thank you note will most often take less than five minutes to write - that's less time than you spend on Instagram in a morning and at stoplights on your lunch hour. P.S. Receiving a handwritten thank you note will also make someone's day much more than you 'liking' their post. : )
Stuck for the right words in expressing your appreciation? My amazing cousin Jana has always written prompt, lovely thank you notes, and one of hers from years ago has always stuck in my mind - she wrote about thoughtfulness and generosity (the latter's often not about expense - it can be generosity of time, spirit, patience...). If you can't find the words you like to describe someone's action or gift, go 'bigger' - tell them about the impact they have on the world because of the way they live and give.
Questions? Feedback for me on this post? Ideas to share on how you write thank you notes, make them fun, or what inspires you to send them? Please share them in the comments, below. Thanks a million for reading (and writing). : )
founder + creative director