Many people don’t send thank-you notes because they simply don’t understand the process. For some people, thank-you notes are a huge hassle, and they simply don’t get sent. For others, the thank-you notes are mailed but they just weren’t done properly. Although any thank-you note is better than no thanks at all there is a proper way to fill out and send the notes.
For some occasions it’s an absolute must to send a thank-you note. Any time there is a gift involved, whether for a baby or a wedding, a thank-you note is usually necessary. Other occasions where notes should be sent include birthdays, graduation, bereavement, hospital stays, a party thrown in your honor, after staying a period of time at a friend’s house, or because a friend has sent you a thoughtful gift for no reason in particular. Some thank-you’s should be formal, others can be very informal, but all of the above occasions require a thank-you note of some sort.
There are some occasions where it is optional to send a thank-you note. Christmas is one example. Although people don’t generally send a thank-you for every present they receive it is proper to send a note if a gift is sent by a faraway friend. Even if that friends sends a gift for different occasions throughout the year a thank-you is in order for each gift. The “thanks” doesn’t have to be formal; mention the gift, and how much it was appreciated, in a letter soon after the gift was received.
Use formal stationery to thank someone who has sent or given you a wedding gift. The thank-you notes should be sent out within a few days of the event. Exceptions to this include wedding gifts (you can send the thank-you’s out after the honeymoon) or cards and gifts sent during illness (send these when you are feeling better). Putting thank-you’s off for a long period of time will leave some givers wondering if you ever received the gift, particularly if they live far away and did not actually attend the ceremony. For other occasions, like graduation and birthday gifts, informal stationery is suitable.
Gifts that have been received in person don’t necessarily require a thank-you note. If someone attended your birthday party, for example, and you thanked them in person after you opened it, a note is no longer necessary. This is true for birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and other occasions, but not for weddings.
Thank-you notes should always be handwritten. Each one should contain a different message. Others might talk later about the thank-you notes and find out you wrote the exact same thing in each letter. That will give each person the feeling that their gift really didn’t matter to you or was even sub-par. Thank each person for the particular gift they gave and give a comment that lets them know you especially appreciated their gift, no matter how small or inexpensive the gift is. For example, “Thank you for the new crock pot. I can’t wait to make my famous chicken soup in it.” or “Thanks so much for the new jeans! My husband says they look fabulous on me.”
Send a thank-you note for those who sent cards or gifts while you were in the hospital. Just a simple note to let them know you appreciate their prayers or good wishes is all that’s required. It doesn’t have to be official and proper, just a note to let them know their thoughts meant something to you. The same goes for those who send flowers or cards after you’ve lost a loved one. You don’t have to get involved in describing the flowers they sent; just let them know their flowers were noticed and appreciated.
It’s helpful, when thinking of thank-you notes for later, if someone can take names and write down the gifts or cards that were sent. For instance, at a wedding shower a bridesmaid or mother of the bride can write down names and the gift while the bride-to-be opens the gifts. At a funeral ask a friend to make a list of the names on each flower bouquet sent. As far as cards and letters, save each one, then you’ll easily be able to send thank-you notes to everyone who sent a card.
Thank-you notes don’t have to be long and drawn out. A simple “Thank you for the (whatever) and we really love it” will suffice as long as you mention the gift by name. Be sure and sign the note using the names of everyone who received. That is, if the gift was for you and your new husband, sign the card from you and him. If the gift was for the entire family make sure you send thanks from “The McDonald Family” for those you don’t know well or “From Tina, Tony and Bobby”, for good friends and family members.
Even though some thank-you notes can be informal they should still be written on a decent piece of paper. Notebook paper is not the best selection. Don’t tear or cut large sheets of paper in half or other portions. This is tacky and noticeable by the recipient. Try to personalize the note as much as possible without being too lengthy. Thank-you notes don’t have to be a big, dreaded ordeal. Sit down and do it – it’s a lot less painful than you think!