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.
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.)
- 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,
- 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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...”
Jeanne Field is a Hallmark editor and mom of two teenagers. In addition to quilting and doing Kakuro puzzles, she is continually rediscovering boring old virtues like patience and gratitude… which surprisingly enough, can get you through pretty much any motherhood-related crisis.