Everyone has that one special person who goes out of their way to sincerely thank us when we do them a favor, or send a gift. The kindness of their thank you is often a gift itself back to us. They have a talent for giving an unforgettable thank you that shows they appreciate you.
We also may know a person or two who, despite the gift given to them, haven’t quite figured out how to show gratitude. They send you a generic thank you, maybe a mass-produced note, or even leave you with no thank you at all.
Now, I don’t believe that we should treat people with kindness just to get a thank you. That type of skewed thinking is never good. However, I do know how wonderful it is when you give a gift, expecting nothing in return, and receive a heartfelt thank you note. It encourages you on towards helping others and creates a desire to show gratitude for those who have helped you. That is why learning to craft an unforgettable thank you note is an essential life skill.
Elements of a Thank You Note
This is the first thing your recipient will see and it sets the tone for the entire note. While it is important to keep your own personality in your writing, a thank you note is not the place to be sarcastic or overly funny. We are trying to convey gratitude, not attitude.
Do: Start with a warm and friendly greeting
Example: “Dear Julie,”
Don’t: Be impersonal or try to sound “cool”
Example: “Hey Old Lady!”
Initial Thank You
Make sure to thank them for the gift you received in the first sentence. Be specific enough so they know you remember what they gave you, and for what occasion. This works for both physical gifts, and gifts of time or talent.
Do: Sincerely thank them for a specific item
Example: “Thank you for the beautiful handcrafted body butter you made for my birthday.”
Don’t: Give a generic thank you
Example: “Thanks for the birthday gift.”
Detailed Explanation of Thank You
This is where you tell them how much you love the gift and how you plan to use it. If it was a gift of money, make sure to focus less on the amount and instead express your gratitude and how it helps your situation. If it was an undesired gift, you can still be polite, just omit this section from the note. It is never proper to express your disdain for a gift, especially in a note.
Do: Use descriptive words to express your thanks.
Example: “The vanilla body butter smells amazing! I know this will be a special treat and a wonderful way to relax after work.”
Don’t: State why you don’t like the gift, or talk about cost.
Example: “It was nice of you to make me body butter. I bet it cost a ton of money!” Or
“I am allergic to vanilla, but thank you anyway for making the body butter for me.”
Gratitude for the Person Who Gave the Gift
This is the most important part of the thank you. Regardless of what you received, and if you like it or not, it is the act of giving we are showing thanks for. Show the giver you appreciate their character by giving them a genuine complement highlighting their positive attributes.
Do: Be genuine and positive
Example: “Julie, you always go out of your way to make others feel blessed. I admire your selfless and trustworthy character.”
Don’t: Be generic, negative, or sarcastic
Example: “Julie, it is just like you to try to outdo everyone on your birthday gifts! This year was no exception.”
Future well wishes and thank you
This is your chance to look ahead to the next time you will see them, as well as thank them again as you bring your letter to a close.
Do: Let them know you are thinking of them and wish them well.
Example: “I look forward to celebrating with you again soon at your birthday! Thank you for thinking of me.” Or “I love you Julie, and can’t wait to see you next year! Spending my birthday with you was the best gift of all. Thank you.”
Don’t: Leave them hanging! These simple sentences add closure to your letter and solidifies your appreciation for the gift and the giver.
The closing can be simple or unique, depending on your relationship with the person. If you have a goodbye phrase you often say, here is a great place to use it.
Do: Close with a proper goodbye and a signature.
Example: “Sincerely, Kayla” Or “Until next time, Kayla”
Don’t: Forget to sign your name!
- Do: Send a handwritten thank you, whenever possible. In our age of technology, a handwritten letter carries a lot of weight and meaning. It shows the recipient you care enough to send your thanks the old-fashioned way.
- Don’t: Use crazy colored ink. Save your glittery, colored pens for doodling. Use a pen with ink that will be easy to read.
- Do: Try to send a thank you as soon as possible. This shows you didn’t forget, and ensures you don’t!
- Don’t: Go on and on. People can tell if you are being genuine in your writing. If you don’t have something genuinely positive to say, omit that part of the thank you.
- Do: Use stationary. It doesn’t have to be expensive (I sometimes buy 10 for $2 at Target), but using stationary shows this was a well thought out thank you, not an afterthought.
Now that you have mastered the Thank You, it’s time to hear from you. What is the strangest thank you note you have ever received? Is there one that stands out because it was so sweet? Let me know in the comments below.