How to write a thank-you note

This article was co-authored by Tami Claytor. Tami Claytor is an Etiquette Coach, Image Consultant, and the Owner of Always Appropriate Image and Etiquette Consulting in New York, New York. With over 20 years of experience, Tami specializes in teaching etiquette classes to individuals, students, companies, and community organizations. Tami has spent decades studying cultures through her extensive travels across five continents and has created cultural diversity workshops to promote social justice and cross-cultural awareness. She holds a BA in Economics with a concentration in International Relations from Clark University. Tami studied at the Ophelia DeVore School of Charm and the Fashion Institute of Technology, where she earned her Image Consultant Certification.

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Thank You Notes have always been a thoughtful way to express your gratitude and appreciation for a teacher. The best way to thank someone who has made a difference in your life is to state your feelings clearly and with sincerity. [1] X Trustworthy Source Edutopia Educational nonprofit organization focused on encouraging and celebrating classroom innovation Go to source Learn how to write a Thank You Note to your child’s teacher, or learn how to write one to your own teacher by following these easy steps.

How to write a thank-you note

After receiving a gift, attending a dinner party, or leaving someone’s house from an overnight stay, you know you need to write a thank you note. However, you might not know exactly what to say. Most people want to send them, but it can be a huge struggle for some. They don’t always know how to put their thoughts into words.

Purpose of a Thank You Note

If you are at a loss for words when you sit down with paper and pen and try to write something to show gratitude for someone else's generosity, follow this advice. You don't have to use fancy wording or write anything worthy of an award.

The main thing you need to do is show how much you appreciate the gift or hospitality. Even if you didn’t care for the gift or if you didn’t have a wonderful time, you should still send a thank you note. After all, the person thought enough of you to get you a gift or prepare her home for you.

What You're Thanking the Person For

Of course, you'll need to use some of your own wording, but with a basic outline, it shouldn't take too long to jot a thank you note to let others know how much you appreciate their gift, their hospitality, or their thoughtfulness.

At the beginning of the note, you need to be clear with the person what you are thanking them for and be specific. If this is for a gift at a shower, birthday party, or some other event that involved multiple gifts from a lot of people, have someone jot down who gave what as you open them.

If this is for an act of service, such as someone volunteering to mow your lawn or babysit your children, be clear. Mention the gift, service, or act you’re thankful for and show what it means to you. Even when a thank you note isn’t expected, thoughtful wording is important.

Show Gratitude

You might think that the importance of showing gratitude in your note is a given. However, there are some people who overlook writing a simple “Thank you,” even though that was the purpose of the note. Even if you don’t care for the gift, you should send a thank you note with an emphasis on the person’s thoughtfulness.

Phrases to help with the opening line:

  • Thank you for the.
  • I am grateful for.
  • I am thankful for.
  • I appreciate the.

State the Gift or Act

Don't take the easy way out and simply state, "Thanks for the gift." Although this is officially a thank you message, it lacks the personal touch that makes the note seem sincere. This will be the second part of the opening line or first sentence.

Here are some examples:

  • Thank you for the lovely candlesticks.
  • I am grateful for your warm hospitality.
  • I am thankful for your friendship and willingness to listen when I need to talk.
  • Thank you for watching my children during my dental appointment.
  • I appreciate the gift card to my favorite restaurant.
  • Thank you for hosting my family during the holidays.
  • Thank you for the gift, but most of all, thank you for being at my Bar Mitzvah to help me celebrate such an important event.

Mention Your Reason for Being Thankful

This may include what you plan to do with the gift or how it helped you. Most of the time this part will be the second sentence of your thank you note.

Here are some examples of this part of the thank you note:

  • My husband and I will celebrate our anniversary soon, and we will use the candlesticks to make the setting even more romantic.
  • You made me feel like part of the family during our visit.
  • I have had a difficult time making my decision, and you helped me tremendously by being there for me.
  • They serve some of the best seafood in town, so I always look forward to eating there.

Here are some things you can write if you didn’t care for the gift or your overnight visit wasn’t as pleasant as you had hoped:

  • With the weather being so cold lately, the scarf was a very thoughtful gift.
  • It was so sweet of you to give me the box of mixed candies.
  • You clearly put a lot of time into getting your home ready for me, and I appreciate your hospitality.

Add a Closing Statement

This should be something that is specifically targeted toward the person you are sending the thank you note to. You may write one or two sentences, depending on what you want to say and how well you know the other person. Avoid something generic that could go to anyone.

Here are some ways you can end the note:

  • We would love to have you over for dinner sometime soon.
  • I look forward to seeing you and John next time you are in the area. Give us a call before you come so we can clear our schedule.
  • If you ever need someone to talk to, please don't hesitate to call.
  • Maybe next time we plan a trip to (the name of the restaurant or venue), we'll give you a call, and hopefully, you can join us.

Sign the Note

Personal signatures emphasize your relationship with the other person. If you have some sort of “friendship buzz phrase,” this is the place you can use it. Otherwise, come up with something that leaves the other person feeling good about what you are thanking her for.

Here are some examples:

  • Love
  • Warmly
  • Friends always
  • Pals forever
  • Affectionately

Timing of a Thank You Note

The best time to send a thank you note is right after you receive the gift or whatever you are thanking the other person for. However, if a week or two has passed, don't let that be an excuse not to send one. Just do it as soon as you can. One of the biggest mistakes some people make is procrastinating on sending a thank you note.

How to write a thank-you note

Since the dawn of time, people have struggled with the right way to say thank you. From prehistoric grunts around a campfire (Urrrp…good meat) all the way to present-day postings on Facebook (Shout out to my peeps!), we’ve come up with lots of easy ways to say thanks. Phone calls, emails, text messages—they all get the job done. But a handwritten thank-you note says more: It tells our friends and family that we went out of our way to sit down and write just to them, because they’re worth it. And if that’s not an improvement over the campfire grunt, what is?

The hardest part of writing a thank-you note, for many, is just starting it. How do I begin? Does it sound forced? Can I say enough to fill the page? To help you face your fears, use this simple thank-you letter template: Who, What and When.

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Make a list of everyone you need to thank. If your thank-yous are the result of a party in your honor, write down the names of those who sent or brought a gift, whether it came by mail, email, carrier pigeon or in person. Then add in the friends who did anything to help out with the get-together—planning, decorating, running errands and so on.

Here’s the basic template for a good thank-you note along with a few sample phrases to get you started. (Need more help with what to write? Express your gratitude with these thank-you messages and ideas from Hallmark writers.)

1. Greeting. Don’t forget to make sure you’re using the correct form and spelling of the person’s name, as well as anyone else’s mentioned in the note.

  • Dear Aunt Sharon and Uncle Bob,

2. Express your thanks. Begin with the two most important words: Thank you.

  • Thank you so much for…
  • It made my day when I opened…
  • I’m so grateful you were there when…

3. Add specific details. Tell them how you plan to use or display their gift. It shows them that you really appreciate the thought that went into it. Even if it’s cold hard cash, describe how you’ll spend the stuff.

  • Here’s a picture of me with my new briefcase. I look so professional!
  • I can’t wait to use the birthday money you sent to decorate my dorm room.
  • The going-away party meant so much to me. Having all my friends and family in one place was something I’ll never forget.

4. Look ahead. Mention the next time you might see them, or just let them know you’re thinking of them.

  • We look forward to seeing you next month at Lucy’s party.

5. Restate your thanks. Add details to thank them in a different way.

  • Again, thank you for your generosity. I’m so excited about college. I’ll let you know all about it when I get settled.
  • We felt so blessed that you made the trip to be with us on our wedding day. We can’t wait to see you again soon!

6. End with your regards. “Sincerely” is a safe standby, but for closer relationships, you might choose a warmer option.

  • With love,
  • Many thanks,
  • Yours truly,

Try to send your thank-you notes out quickly. For events such as parties and showers, a good rule of thumb is to send your cards out within a month after the event. If it’s later than that, start your note with a brief apology. “I’ve been meaning to tell you…”

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How to write a thank-you note

Jeanne Field enjoys quilting, killer sudoku and washi-tape hoarding in her free time—which she has more of now that her 2 kids are in college. She hopes to live 1,000 or so more years so she can make ALL the quilts.