Do you write thank you notes or do you think it’s an outdated custom? I may be old fashioned but I still think a handwritten thank you note is a lovely idea.
My mother was a real stickler for thank you notes and passed that along to me. I feel like if someone took the time to select a gift or do something nice for me, writing a note of appreciation is only right.
Other than for wedding presents this custom seems to be well on its way out of common practice. I always made my kids write thank you notes for birthday and Christmas gifts but rarely received them from their friends. Some of our nieces and nephews did but more of them did not.
You may disagree with me and that’s fine but here are my reasons for writing thank you notes:
- If the gift was mailed a thank you note tells the sender that the gift was received. Many a time I’ve worried that a gift was lost in the mail and didn’t want the intended recipient to think I hadn’t bothered to give them a gift.
- Expressing gratitude is always appropriate.
- Teaching children to write thank you notes gives them experience in something that they may very well be called upon to do as an adult.
- It’s a pleasure to receive something other than bills and junk mail. I’m always so pleased to receive a handwritten note because it’s so rare these days. We’ll talk about writing actual letters one of these days, too!
- There is something special about gracious gestures, especially when they are no longer expected. It’s like using cloth napkins or ironing pillow cases. These things may not be necessary but they elevate ordinary life just a bit with minimal effort.
If I’ve managed to convince you that thank you notes are a good idea and something you’d like to start doing, here are some helpful tips.
- Purchase a pack of thank you notes, address labels and stamps to keep on hand. If you don’t have to make a special trip to the store and/or post office, the task is more easily accomplished in a timely manner.
- Decide on your own personal deadline for writing notes after receiving a gift, attending a special party or being a guest in someone’s home. Ideally, the sooner the better but in general I try to do it within 2 weeks. Weddings are different, though, especially when the guest list is large. Emily Post says wedding gift thank you notes should be sent within three months of the wedding. Even that seems like a long time to me and I would hate to have that hanging over my head for that long. But from an etiquette standpoint, three months is fine.
- Don’t feel like the note needs to be long or use extremely formal language. Just a few sentences are fine.
If you are a bit unsure about how to compose a thank you note, here is a general template of sorts:
- Thank recipient for gift, party, hospitality, etc.
- One or two sentences about the gift. Why you like it, how it is a perfect choice for your home, just the right color, etc.
- Thank recipient for thoughtfulness, hospitality, or something appropriate.
Feel free to write more but even three or four sentences of heartfelt gratitude are sufficient. Don’t let perfectionism prevent you from writing anything at all.
Adding gracious touches to our own lives and those we care about is an important part of “creating a beautiful life”. Instead of thinking of it as a dreaded chore, imagine the recipient looking through their daily mail and instead of just bills and junk mail there is a sweet note from you. Knowing that your effort brightened someone’s day makes it all worthwhile.
For another take on thank you notes, check out this podcast:
Do you write thank you notes or am I hopelessly old fashioned?