How to Write Memorable Thank-You Notes
As in all writing, when writing thank-you notes, think of your audience. Put yourself in the shoes of the person whom you want to thank. How would you like to be thanked? What words or phrases would you like to read in a thank-you note?
- Thank you
- Appreciate, grateful, indebted
- Happy, elated, excited
- Surprised, surprising, unexpected
- Timely, just in time
- Just what I needed, what I was hoping for
Above is a partial list. You can brainstorm on your own or check the thesaurus to come up with more and different phrases.
Making It Special
Thank-You for a Gift
Whether you are writing several thank-yous for an event or a single thank-you, you should write each one individually. Write each thank you with the particular person you want to thank in mind.
Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes it's a favorite aunt or your best friend that you need to thank. Sometimes it's not so easy. Sometimes it is a cousin you find abrasive, or someone you were forced to invite that you don't really like. Some will expect a thank you and some won't. Everyone deserves a thank you, but a thank you that is obviously just a form letter is little better than no thank you at all.
To make thank-you notes special in every case, include some kind of personal observation about the person and/or the gift. For example,
- "How did you know I collect stuffed animals?"
- "This will remind me of that summer we visited."
- "You noticed that I liked this when we were together."
- "I love this."
- "I have wanted this since I was eleven years old."
- "You must have hunted high and low for this!"
- "This must have been a lot of effort on your part."
Mention the gift so that they know you know what they gave you. Avoid comments about the price or monetary value of gifts. Remember the old cliché, it is the thought that counts.
If a gift is obviously given with malice, you have my permission not to write a thank-you note for it. But most of the time the giver is well meaning, and if you don't know whether the gift was meant well or not, you need to assume that it was and thank the giver accordingly, no matter what you may think of them personally.
Thank You for an Intangible
Sometimes we receive things that are difficult to quantify. A loved one is ill or passes away and a neighbor brings over a casserole. You have to take your spouse to the hospital and a friend watches the kids. Someone goes out on a limb to get you a job interview. These are all occasions to send a thank you.
Here's a classic:
"Thank you for last night."
Be sure to include a red rose.
Many times in our busy lives it is difficult to get around to sending thank you notes. Perhaps considerable time goes by and you begin to feel awkward about sending the thank you. You should send it anyway. You could apologize for sending it late, but it is not a requirement. Better to simply write the thank you note as if you are sending it in a timely manner. Otherwise, you risk diminishing the gift.
"Sorry it took me so long to write this thank you note. I was very busy."
They might well respond, "Don't bother."
Thank You as Weapon
Sometimes a thank you note is an appropriate means of communication for something other than gratitude:
Thank you for the worst seven years of my life. Thank you for using me like a cheap hooker, taking all the credit for everything I did, and throwing me under the bus at your first opportunity.
What goes around comes around, pal.
All the best,