Part 1Beginning the Thank-You Note Process
- Keep a list of gifts. When you receive presents for any event, be sure that you or someone else keeps track of what gifts are received and who sent each one. This will make it much easier to sit down and write thank you notes.
- Do not procrastinate. While receiving a note in the mail at any time can be well-received, it is best to send thank you notes between one day and two weeks after opening a gift. If you wait longer than that, the person may think that you were rude for not sending a note. However, you may also want to follow the old adage of, “better late than never.”
- Address the recipient. Most notes and letters begin with the word “Dear” followed by the person’s name and a comma; for example: “Dear Julian, ”
- You may also want to use a nickname or a relationship name, such as “Dear Mom” or “Dear Junior.”
- State the purpose for writing. Tell the person that you are writing in order to thank them for the gift that they gave you for Christmas. You will likely start out your note by saying “thank you, ” but you could also get more creative and relate the “scene” for someone who was not there.
- An example of a standard opening might be, “I am writing to thank you for the gift you sent for Christmas.”
- A less traditional approach may be “Christmas morning, the whole family crept downstairs. The house was nearly silent until the children started squealing with glee as they saw that there, waiting for everyone, were shiny new bicycles for the entire family!”
- Name the gift item specifically. Be sure to explicitly state what gift the person gave you. This will communicate to them that you are aware of their specific contribution.
- If you lost track of the gifts and are not sure, it’s better to be vague and say “thank you for your kind gift” than to state the incorrect item.
- If you received a gift of money, you may want to say something like “thank you so much for your generosity.”
- Explain how you felt when opening the gift. Use specific, descriptive language when relating how you felt when you received the gift on Christmas morning. This will make your note come to life for the reader.
- For example, you might say, “I was still feeling sleepy and frustrated because our coffee pot broke again. Then I opened your gift, and saw a shiny, new programmable coffee pot, and my heart nearly leapt out of my chest."
- Another example would be, “the children were so excited to open their matching PJs. I had them open the boxes at the same time, and I was so proud to see them hold them up and talk to each other about the excitement of wearing them to bed that very night.”
- Mention how the gift has been or will be used. Make the gift giver feel successful by explaining how useful or nice their gift has been.
- For example, tell her that your new coffee pot makes the best coffee you’ve ever had and that the programmable feature makes you feel pampered.
- For an item that you haven’t used yet, such as an article of clothing, explain when you plan to use or wear it. For example, “I can’t wait to wear the sparkly black sweater out to the neighborhood New Year’s Eve party.”
- For an extra special touch, consider including a photo of the gift in use.
- Write about your Christmas experience. After focusing on the gift, it is nice to give an overview of how you spent the rest of the day on Christmas. This is particularly good if you are sending a note to someone that you did not get to spend time with on Christmas.
- For example, you might say, “After opening presents, we made our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of cinnamon rolls and fresh-squeezed orange juice, then we went for a walk in the snow” or “We are exhausted from having 4 different Christmases in one day: we had our family morning at home, then went to my parents’ house, then went to my husband’s mom’s house, and then finally my husband’s father’s house. We need a break from Christmas break!”
- Ask about the gift giver’s Christmas. Even though a thank you note is a type of one-way correspondence, it is nice to inquire after (or at least comment on) the person’s Christmas. Try to make this as personal as possible.
- For example, “How was your Christmas? Did you enjoy the Christmas cruise as much as you thought you would?”
- Another example would be, “I hope you had an enjoyable Christmas, filled with love and laughter.”
- Make plans for future contact. If you plan to visit the person who sent the gift, or if she plans to visit you, mention that you are looking forward to the upcoming visit. If it’s unlikely that you will see the person soon, express a desire to talk on the phone or write letters in the future.
- For example, “I can’t wait to see you in February; it has been far too long!” or “I hope to hear back from you soon; feel free to call or write any time!”
Part 3Finishing the Note
- Thank the giver again. This can be a simple “thank you again for the gift, ” but this gesture will remind the reader of your note why you wrote to them in the first place.
- This step may be skipped if your closing (in the next step) is “with gratitude” or “thanks again.”
End the note appropriately. Your relationship with the gift giver will help determine the appropriate closing before your signature. Close friends or relatives may be signed “Love, [your name]. Other options are: “best wishes, ” “sincerely, ” “warmly, ” “best, ” “thanks again, ” or “with gratitude.”
- Sign your name. This may not be your full legal name. If you are writing a letter to your child, you might sign it with “Mom, ” for example. If the person generally calls you by just your first name or a nickname, it is appropriate to sign that name. You may wish to sign your full name, however, when writing letters to acquaintances or co-workers.
Mail the note promptly. Place the note in an envelope, write the recipient’s address on the outside of the envelope (be sure the address is current), put the appropriate postage on the envelope, and put the note in the mail.
- Increasingly, thank you notes are sent in the form of emails. While some people frown on this approach, it is important to remember the act of thanking someone is what matters, not the medium used. If your acquaintances tend to use email for all their personal correspondence, then a thank you email for a Christmas gift will be appropriate.
- Christmas thank you notes do not have to be written on formal thank you cards. A plain piece of stationery or even a simple piece of notebook paper will suffice. Don't put off writing thank you notes because you don't have a fancy cardstock around the house.