How do you thank someone who does something special for you? These days, most people don’t take the time to formally express their gratitude… but those who do know there are special rewards for putting pen to paper to say “thank you.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received thanks for my thank-you notes! This encourages me to continue marking occasions with meaningful sentiments.
On the receiving side, there are few things more touching than reading genuine words of gratitude from a beloved friend or respected colleague. Knowing how much a gift means to someone makes me want to be more generous and thoughtful.
If you have a hard time crafting personal notes in response to gifts or gestures of generosity, here’s a basic rundown of the components you should include.
Greeting. Use a formal opening, and be sure to use the proper spelling and title of the recipient. “Dear” is appropriate in almost every case.
- Dear Henry,
- Dear Aunt Jo,
- Dear Father Dan,
- Dear Mrs. Deidrick,
Say “thank you” and acknowledge the gift. Start with the actual words followed by a description of the gift or gesture you received.
- Thank you for…
- I am so grateful for…
- You made my day by…
- You can’t know how much I appreciate…
Give a practical example. Describe how you will use the gift or what it means to you.
- I will be reminded of you when I see it.
- I am looking forward to getting a new haircut with the Christmas money!
- The foyer finally looks complete with the artwork on display.
- I hope to set an example for someone the way you have for me.
Wrap it up. Traditional etiquette suggests that you restate your thanks, but — particularly in a short note — this seems formulaic. Instead, I suggest adding something personal that looks to your shared future; this may include an inside joke for an especially close friend. Generally, the closing should be a separate paragraph.
- I can’t wait to see you at Mom’s this summer!
- Please give my regards to the family until I see them.
- I look forward to working with you again soon.
- Semper fi, old friend.
Use a formal closing. Sometimes closings like “warm regards” can seem stuffy or corny, but a memorable letter is just the time to use a time-honored phrase as one last exclamation of your gratitude. When in doubt, “Sincerely,” works well for loved ones and acquaintances alike. Be sure to capitalize all words of a closing.
- Warm Regards,
- All My Best,
- Many Thanks,
Still stumped? That’s okay. Good letter-writing takes practice. Start by making a point to send a thank-you card every time you receive a gift from a close relative who won’t criticize your writing skills. Before long, you’ll start to compile your own useful phrases and adapt your style to the recipient (old Grandma June may like her notes a bit more formal than your fraternity brother).