Saturday, December 12, 2015

To Write a Proper Thank-You Note


In this electronic age, a handwritten note of thanks is becoming a distinguishing hallmark of gentility.  Most will likely agree that a penned thank-you is the nicest way to express appreciation for the kindness of another, but so few follow through.

Perhaps this is because writing a proper thank-you is a skill that is seldom taught, and one is left to her own ingenuity to compose what she hopes will be an adequate acknowledgement of appreciation.  Suddenly, what had sounded simple enough now looms a larger, somewhat daunting task, easily procrastinated.  

For years I struggled to follow through in writing notes of appreciation because I felt compelled to write a short essay to adequately express my gratitude.  Imagine my liberation when, as a student at the American School of Protocol, I discovered that a proper thank-you note contains just four sentences.  Here is the simple formula, followed by an example:

Dear __________________ ,
  • A sentence that says thank-you for the gift.
  • A sentence that says something about the gift.
  • A sentence that says something about the giver.
  • A sentence that says something about the gift.

For example:

Dear Sarah,

Thank you so much for the lovely dinner last evening.  The chicken cacciatore was superb, and I am still dreaming of your chocolate meringues!  You have such a gift for making people feel loved.  The time and effort you put into making the evening so enjoyable is truly appreciated!


Additional tips for writing proper thank-you notes:
  • Don't be troubled about being eloquent.  Eloquence is found in simplicity and sincerity.
  • Keep note cards on hand for timely correspondence.
  • When writing on behalf of you and your spouse, begin:  "John and I wish to thank you for...", and end by signing your name only.
  • Timely thank-you notes are best sent within one week, and not later than two weeks, of receiving the gift.  But even late is better than never.
Principle:  A lady writes proper thank you notes.

Art:  Penning a Letter by George Goodwin Kilburne


  1. I will always be grateful to my mother for teaching me about the importance of writing "thank you" notes. It is a shame that this is not done very often now. Recently, I have given wedding and baby gifts with no thanks whatsoever.

    I feel that we have become lazy, with thinking texting is appropriate in place of a more formal acknowledgement.

    This is a timely reminder for me, as I attended a Christmas party last night, and will be sending a thank you card to the hostess!


    1. Oh, Christine, you are so right about texting. "Thnx 4 dinner" just doesn't cut the mustard. :-)

  2. Dear Nancy,
    Thank you for the gentle reminder about sending thank you notes. It is very nice to receive one in the mail from time to time, but even nicer to send one!
    Once again I must say I love your blog and look forward to each new post you write.
    Mrs. B

    1. Mrs. B, it is so nice to know someone out there is reading! Thank you for being so supportive. 3>

  3. And on this lovely piece, thank you for writing this post for us! I check in every few days and am always encouraged by what you have written. I have also introduced it to my daughter who is raising seven children. I know it will bless her as it has blessed me!

    1. Dear Vicki, thank you! It means so very much to hear your kind words. And God bless your daughter ~ what a wonderful, awesome calling!

  4. So nice to see an update, and what a timely one with holiday gift-giving in full swing! I admit to being guilty of sending email "thank you" notes (not texts!) because my handwriting is so bad, but with this kind reminder, I will make an effort to send legible, handwritten notes. Thank you for this wonderful blog - it is truly inspiring.

    1. Thanks so much for reading, Arabella, and even more for taking the time to respond! A Merry Christmas to you!

  5. I thank you in my head everytime I enjoy one of your calm, elegant, out of time posts. So now I must let you know, with an email thank you! You have a unique blog, a wonderful message, and I appreciate your work! Thank you.


  6. Lovely to hear from you, Erina. Thanks so much, and I wish you a wonderful Christmas!