Since I have a bit of experience writing thank you notes for gifts and experiences over the years I thought I would share an example of a sincere but succinct thank you note with y’all for anyone who may be preparing to write their own. With graduation approaching I know many of you will be gearing up to work through some thank you notes for those gifts as well as other events in the Spring. It was so interesting to hear y’alls takes about graduation announcements in this post since I didn’t know that it was a relatively southern thing to send graduation announcements although that makes a lot of sense.
Below I am including my strategy for a well written thank you note. I am no Emily Post but I do know that taking the time to send a handwritten letter thanking someone for their thoughtfulness goes a long way!
Depending on how well you know the person you are writing to this will vary. While I tend to keep the outside of my envelopes pretty formal with who I am addressing (more on that further down) I find that what you put after “dear” can be a little less formal and more colloquial along the lines of what you may call that person when you are together in person. For example, if I am writing a letter to my parents I put “Dear Mom and Dad.” The same goes for other family members, I address them in the same way I would try to get their attention if I were talking to them in person. Sometimes you’ll have to write thank you notes to people you may not know as well on a personal level (after interviews, distant family friends, etc) and that’s when I would say going the more formal route of “Mr. or Mrs. Last Name” is more appropriate.
While sometimes I jump straight to the “thank you” aspect of the note, I also on occassion like to start my letters off with a sentence that isn’t fully related to the reason I am writing the note. By doing this, I am able to be a bit more personal and make it seem less like I have to write them a note before I can actually use the gift. Something brief along the lines of saying that you hope they are doing well or were excited to hear about xyz event they have going on in their life is appreciated. I wouldn’t spend more than a sentence on this though since most pieces of stationery don’t have an ample amount of extra space.
So shocking to include a thank you in a thank you note, right? My biggest tip when it comes to the thank you portion is to make it personal. While you should include what you are thanking the person for try not to make it look too scripted by just putting “thank you for the monogrammed towel, I really like it” (I got a lot of monogrammed towels for graduation so that was the first thing I thought of). Instead, include an anecdote such as “Thank you so much for the towel you gave me, the personalization was such a thoughtful touch and it is nice to have one less thing to label as I prepare to head off to college” or “With an upcoming beach trip, I can’t wait to pack the monogrammed towel you gave me to use by the pool.” It is also nice to acknowledge the thoughtfulness of the gift, when or where you might use it, or that you will think of the giver of the gift when you use it. Definitely don’t feel the need to include all of these aspects but one or two helps to avoid a thank you note looking too simple.
In the same way that I like to start my note off with a personal touch I also think it is nice to end that way as well. If I haven’t seen the person I am writing to in awhile something along the lines of “I hope you and your family are doing well and I hope to see you soon” or for family members I like to include my excitement for when I will see them next. Something brief but sincere is a great way to end it.
While there are plenty of words you could use before signing your name I think sincerely is traditionally the most universally fitting. It works for a number of different situations and is formal while still being friendly. If I am writing to a close friend or family I may choose something more personal along the lines of “love” or “miss you” but otherwise I pretty much always stick to sincerely.
As I mentioned earlier I pretty much always keep my envelope very formal. If you think about it this is the postal services way of figuring out the address or the recipient so there is no need to be too special with this as that could make their lives more difficult. I like to put the address on the front and my return address on the back just so that the front doesn’t get too crowded. I typically write Mr. and Mrs. Males First and Last Name (ex. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). If you are unsure of this then a Mr. and Mrs. Last Name works well too.
I hope this has helped any of y’all preparing to write some thank you notes. If you’re in need of new stationery see some of the cute ones I was able to get from Minted in this post!