How To Ace The Thank You Note

Author: Miranda Eason

Yes, sending a thank you email or text is much quicker than spending time shopping for pretty notecards, picking up a pen, planning what to write and rummaging around for a stamp, but a heartfelt, handwritten thank you note shows the person you’re thanking how much you appreciate whatever it is you’re thanking them for, and makes a pleasant surprise amongst the bills and junk mail that make up the bulk of our post (if yours is anything like mine!). Whilst I’m thoroughly modern in many ways, I do like to send (and receive!) a handwritten thank you. Here’s some tips on how to say thank you in style.

Start With Stationery You Love

Individual thank you cards are expensive, especially if you’re partial to letterpress, even more so if you have a Liberty stationery room habit (the only way to kick this overdraft-botheringly-expensive habit is to go cold turkey, this is spoken from experience). I pick up packs of thank you cards or notecards as and when I see ones I like, so I always have a stack of cards to hand. For an even cheaper alternative, consider sending postcards, I have a box full of arty postcards I’ve gathered from exhibitions I’ve been to over the years. The only problem is I don’t like to give them away. Sometimes I buy duplicates!

Bin The Blotchy Biros

Or at least don’t use them for your thank you notes. You don’t need a fancy fountain pen. I use Muji’s gel ink ballpoint pens, which come in every colour of the rainbow and then some.

Remember It’s Never Too Late To Send A Thank You Note

There are no hard and fast rules about when to send a thank you note (at least not that I can find online!). Whilst sooner is better than later, later is better than never. If it’s overdue start your note with something like, I’ve been meaning to tell you for the longest time…

Plan What You’re Going To Say

In order to avoid making mistakes, reaching for the Tipp-Ex, crossing stuff out and/or wasting stationery, I jot down what I’m going to say first and then copy it over on to the notecard.

Be Sincere

Honestly say how much you like the item you received, how much you enjoyed the event you attended, or how much whatever it was that the person did for you meant to you, without going over the top. Obviously don’t be honest if you hated the item or event in question, if that’s the case I would say err on the side of formality.

Keep It Classic, Or Not

I’ve always followed what I would say is a ‘classic’ structure. Start by saying thank you, add some specific detail, mention the next time you’ll see the person you’re thanking and how much you’re looking forward to it, then restate your thanks, adding more details to say thank you in a different way. However in researching this post I came across this post on adulting and realised I need to raise my thank you game. Prepare to be blown away people who do lovely things for me!

Do you send thank you notes? Or do you think that in this day and age a thank you text or email is perfectly acceptable? Are there instances when one simply must put pen to paper? Any more tips on acing the thank you note? Do share!

Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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14 thoughts on “How To Ace The Thank You Note

  1. There’s nothing better than receiving a hand written thank you card. I have a huge collection and always write to say thank you for dinner, weekends, presents etc. paper chase is of course invaluable for picking up packs of cards … I’ve probably got about 6 or 7 sets…

    1. Paperchase is brilliant for packs of cards, especially the Tottenham Court Road branch – it’s stationery heaven!

  2. Perhaps I am super mean but if I’ve bought someone a pressie or celebrated their birthday in person I don’t really send birthday cards. I think they should be something sent through the post to be enjoyed rather than shoved in your handbag in the pub.
    Thank you cards on the other hand are something I firmly believe in. I always stock up on ones from HomeSense and like to have them on display! I was brought up to send thank you cards and as a little’un I always spent Boxing Day writing my thanks for my Christmas presents. I think it’s a dying art and I’ve lost track of the amount of newlyweds who have failed to send cards after generous wedding gifts x

  3. Oh I love a thank you card! I’m like you Lauren and was brought up to write thank you cards at birthdays and Christmas and this has carried on to first home gifts and engagement presents last year. We get married in December and I am already planning a day post-honeymoon to sit down and get through the thank you cards.

    I get so frustrated with people who don’t send thank you cards, and I have been to a number of weddings in the past few years and haven’t had a thank you card for a gift. I may sound like my grandmother, but if it’s good enough to accept, it is only polite that you thank someone for it!

    In terms of buying stationery – can’t go wrong with Paperchase and there is a lovely chain of shops in Edinburgh called Paper Tiger which I get very excited in!x

    1. I was brought up to write birthday and Christmas thank you notes too and it’s something that stayed with me. And I love buying stationery, so it really doesn’t seem like a chore. I just had a look at Paper Tiger’s website, so many pretty cards!

  4. I am exactly like you Lauren, every year the day after our birthday or Christmas my mum would always make us sit down & write thank you cards, and this is still the case.

    Although I do have to admit that I am STILL writing the wedding thank you cards!!! I know!! The main reason for this being my ridiculous idea to give everyone a personalised thank you card (with a collage of pictures from the wedding that featured them!!)
    But don’t worry, everyone WILL get their thank you notes. I couldn’t bare it if I thought I hadn’t thanked one of our guests!

    Usually though I’m a complete Paperchase addict and get nearly all my notecards from there (I even have those gorgeous MERCI ones in the pic)
    I am also a sucker for gorgeous letter sets – Cath Kidston had the best set I had ever seen – the paper itself folded into the envelope….genius! I bought a set for a Christmas present but when I went back to treat myself….gone!!! 🙁 saddest day ever!!

    1. Very much liking the sound of your personalised wedding thank yous Rebecca, what a lovely piece of post to receive. Oh no, how upsetting that the Cath Kidston set wasn’t there when you went back, if that isn’t a lesson in if you love it, buy it, I don’t know what is!

  5. Miranda, one of the things I “think” of you by is your thoughtful thank you notes, you have always sent them and they are always so lovely to receive. This has given me the kick up the bum I need to send all of the cards I’ve bought to thank those that have bought Mabel such lovely gifts….I have A LOT to be getting on with x

    1. Aw, that’s lovely of you to say Charlotte! Writing the post has actually made me think of a few thank yous I would like to send, not for gifts given or events I’ve attended, more for people who’ve been supportive in various ways. I think I feel an online stationery shopping spree coming on (American sites have the loveliest letterpress cards!).

      1. I LOVE paperless post in the US but they don’t seem to deliver worldwide. So sad as all of their stationery looks beautiful 🙁

  6. Just got round to reading that post on Adulting you linked to – Oh my goodness that has to be the best thank you note I have ever read! Whichever friend she sent that too must’ve had the biggest smile on their face all day
    Definitely need to up my game!

  7. This may be a bit off the track but I always teach the children I work with to say thank you to each other and not just for simply passing them a rubber on their table. From being tiny tots in the nursery they are taught to say thank you to their friends for showing respect, care, consideration and kindness. Working in a particularly deprived area of Sheffield, this is not something which they are always shown at home. I only hope that when they become older they can translate this to pen and paper and understand that there is always a lot to be thankful

  8. Having also been brought up sending a thank you note following birthdays and Christmas, and passing the practice on to my children, there is nothing that says ‘thank you’ more sincerely than a handmade thank you note 🙂

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