Your Guide to Thank You Notes
Thank you notes are one of the few pieces of personal mail I still send. In an age of quick email and social media messages, there's something so special about receiving a pretty card with a handwritten note, especially when it comes to thank you for being so thoughtful yourself. It's a sort of formal, but very lovely, tradition.
I first learned about thank you notes from my high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Rainey. She's also where I learned how to eat spaghetti like a lady and the importance of cleaning as you cook. That woman literally knew all of the important things you need to get by. Literally.
Here are the three most important things to know about thank you notes:
1. There's no wrong time to send a thank you note. It's a sweet gesture that will be appreciated by almost anyone, almost always. But generally speaking, you send a thank you note either when you're receiving a large number of gifts/flowers/cards at one time (like a shower, funeral, graduation or wedding) and might not have time to give the giver a lot of personal attention; or when you receive a gift and aren't able to thank the giver personally (like a birthday gift in the mail). For things like hosting you for a weekend or doing you a favor, a note wouldn't be out of line by any means, but other methods, like a hostess gift or an in-person thank you, respectively, might be more appropriate. However, if someone throws a party or dinner in your honor, that is cause for a note. Thank you notes have no expiration date; better sent late than never. When in doubt, just send the note. Nobody will be checking Emily Post's guidelines on the topic ... well, almost nobody.
2. Handwrite your thank you notes. You're expressing your heartfelt thanks for someone thinking of you. It just wouldn't be the same if it weren't in your handwriting (no matter how bad your handwriting may be). Handwrite the envelope too.
3. Mention the gift. Unless... When writing the note itself, keep it casual and simple, similar to how you might thank the person in conversation. Start with a warm greeting and then thank them directly for the gift; maybe even mention how you'll use it. There's one exception and that is if the gift is money. If that's the case, you thank the person for their "generous gift" and talk about how it might be used. For example, "Thank you so much for your generous shower gift for Baby Batman! It will certainly come in handy in decorating the nursery." Classy, eh?
That's it. Seriously, these rules are so simple there's no reason everybody shouldn't write thank you notes. It's a very simple way to express gratitude, friendship and impeccable manners. Tell us what you think in the comments!