When and How to Write Thank You Notes

Thank you notes seem to be becoming a thing of the past. We at American Stationery believe that it is not only proper etiquette, but appropriate to write thank you notes for certain things. Thank you notes can be formal or informal, simple or complex, but should always be heartfelt and genuine. Here are just a few of the occasions where thank you notes would be appropriate:

  • Wedding Gifts
  • Baby or Bridal Shower Gifts
  • Gifts and Visits Received While in the Hospital
  • Sympathy Letters or Flowers
  • Gifts Received Through the Mail

You can use formal stationery or the preprinted thank you notes from the grocery store. The situation will help decide how formal you should be. For wedding gifts, a formal thank you note should be used, usually one that matches your wedding invitation or theme. Baby shower or bridal shower thank you notes can be informal, although you can typically get thank you notes that match the shower invitations as well. You can substitute personalized stationery instead of an actual note with “Thank You” printed on it, but we would not recommend getting too informal and using a memo sheet or notebook paper. The card should reflect the occasion and yourself. Get something that you like and it will let the people receiving it know that you thought enough of their gift to take the time to pick out a thank you note.

You should send the thank you note as soon as possible. The longest you should wait is a week in most cases. If you wait too long, it might seem to the recipient that you forgot about them and their gift. If the thank you note is being sent for gifts received while in the hospital, you should wait until you are well enough to write to send the note. With wedding presents, too, there is a forgivable exception to the one week window, as a honeymoon will typically delay the writing process by a few days or even a week. The longest you should ever take to send a thank you note is two months from the day you received the gift.

When you sit down to write the thank you note, be specific. If the person was at the event, be sure to say how much you enjoyed seeing them. If a gift was given, be sure to reference it and its intended use in the note. For example, if Aunt Mary sent you a set of sheets as a birthday present, you might want to say “Thank you so much for the floral sheet set. They’ll go perfectly with the colors we’ve chose for the bedroom.” Even if you do not like the gift and will end up returning it, you should still let the person know that you appreciated their generosity.

The thank you note should be written to whoever sent the gift. If it was your Aunt Mary and Uncle Steve, then you want to address the card to them. If the gift came from Aunt Mary, Uncle Steve and the cousins Johnny and Jenny, you would still only address the thank you note to just Aunt Mary and Uncle Steve, but you would want to make sure to mention Johnny and Jenny in the body of the note.

Most importantly, when it comes to thank you notes, be personal. No one wants to get a thank you note that sounds like it was written by a robot. It just doesn’t seem genuine. If you make sure the note is personal, the recipient will know that you actually did like what they got you and that you appreciated them being there or sending the gift, etc.

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