Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette-
I need help writing a thank you card! I dread it because I don’t know what to say or how formal to make it.
-Thankless in Tennessee
I feel your pain, Thankless. As a child, you could almost guarantee my thank you note, if it ever arrived, would be months after the fact. I felt like I had to write at least a whole page letter to everyone, and I couldn’t face the pressure. But really, a basic thank you isn’t as difficult as it seems when you’re staring at a blank piece of stationery, pen in hand, suddenly tongue-tied.
First things first, go buy a nice Thank You card. Cards look lovely, and have less room to fill with writing! Then, remember this three step formula, and thank you note anxiety will be a thing of the past …
- The thank you statement: Super-simple. Just say “thanks” or “thank you” and mention exactly what you’re thanking them for.
- What, Why, How: This is the hard part, but it’s not as bad as it seems. One to three sentences describing why you liked the gift, or how you’re going to use it, or something like that.OK…almost there…
- The conclusion: Your conclusion can be a summary of your initial thank you statement if it’s a longer note (more than one paragraph). Include a well-wish to the giver, and maybe an invitation to lunch or drinks if you’re on friendly terms (be careful with that one though … save invitations for friends or people you’ve had lunch with before). Then just add a thanks to your sign-off, and you’re all done!
Whether or not to make your note casual or formal is relatively simple. If you call the gift giver by their last name, make it very formal. If you only know the person at work, it can be casual for an equal or subordinate employee if you’re on friendly terms, but should be formal for a superior regardless. And if you’re writing a note to a friend or family member, take a deep breath and relax.
An example casual thank you note:
“[Step 1: Dear Friend,
Thanks for inviting me to your dinner party last week, I had a great time!]
[Step 2: I really enjoyed seeing Mutual Friend, and we both agreed that your Special Dish was to die for. I’d love to get the recipe, unless it’s a family secret.]
[Step 3: Say hello and thank you to Your Significant Other for me too, and be sure to give me a call if you’re on my side of town some time. We should meet for lunch!
An example formal thank you note:
“[Step 1: Dear Mr. Giftgiver,
I wanted to write to say thank you for the lovely engraved desk pen set.]
[Step 2: I’ve always enjoyed quality writing instruments, and the pen is a joy to write with. I look forward to writing many thank you notes with it in the years to come.]
[Step 3: I hope you enjoyed your holiday break. Please feel free to call me if I can be of any professional assistance during the coming year.
Now, put a stamp on the envelope, and drop it in the mailbox. There you see, that wasn’t so painful after all, now was it?