27 Days of Thanksgiving – Days 4 & 5

November 5, 2008 at 10:45 am 2 comments

How to Write a Thank-You Note

Have you ever sent a gift to someone, only to wonder if it was ever received? The arrival of a thank-you note would have quickly eased your mind, assuring you that your package did indeed reach the proper recipient, and the few moments that the other person took to jot down a short note of thanks would also have given you the pleasure of knowing that your gift was not only received, but also appreciated. Sometimes, however, even someone with the noblest intent draws a blank on what to write, or even when a thank-you note is appropriate.

When to Send a Thank-You Note

When gifts are exchanged in person, appreciation should be expressed at that time, face to face. While a written “thank you” is always welcomed, it is not expected if the giver was present when the recipient opened the gift; The exception to this is showers, whether it be for a wedding, housewarming, or a new baby. Remember to have someone take note of which gifts come from whom, so you don’t end up sending Cousin Jody a thank-you for the set of pots and pans you received from Great-Aunt Lila.

Other appropriate times to send notes of thanks would be occasions when someone gives of herself and her time. This could include the friend who gives you a ride to work, the sister you visit for a week, your mom handling all your chores while you were sick, etc. Anyone who opens their home to you or offers their service to you deserves to be thanked with a written note.

One often overlooked “thank you” is the “bread and butter” note. This is a note of thanks sent for “small” offerings of hospitality — a friend’s parents allowing you to spend the night, another friend inviting you over for tea, the family that has you over for dinner, etc. If someone serves you “bread and butter,” make sure to thank them for it.

What Do I Say?

It happens to everyone at some point — someone gave you a gift and even though you truly are grateful, you find yourself staring at an empty sheet of paper and the only words that come to mind are “thank you.” How do you express your gratitude when it feels like your entire vocabulary just packed up and left? Or worse, when you’re staring at the loud yellow and orange floral tablecloth you received from your Aunt Jane and all you can think is, “You shouldn’t have . . . you really shouldn’t have”?

First of all, remember to start small. When you’re having difficulty coming up with three sentences to express your appreciation, nothing is as depressing as a large sheet of blank paper. Select an appropriate notecard that has enough space inside that you can write more than the greeting line and your signature, but is still small enough that three or four sentences will fill it.

It is more appropriate to choose a card with a blank inside, rather than one with a pre-printed sentiment. However, if you have a pressing need for a card and that is all you are able to acquire, it is better to use a pre-printed card than to send none at all (and the recipient of your note will be appreciative that you sent one, regardless of whether the greeting card company stamped their own words on the inside). However, even if there is already a message on the inside of the card, find a small space that you can pen out one or two sentences and express your thanks in your own words, rather than simply signing your name.

Now that you have your notecard, what will you write in it? This is where creativity and diplomacy come in. Never lie, even if you aren’t particularly fond of the tablecloth from Aunt Jane. Start by simply thanking her for the gift, then select one aspect of it that you can portray in a positive light. Something along the lines of, “the colors remind me of the popsicles you made for me when I was a little girl,”or “floral patterns always makes me think of summer,” or even, “you send the most unique gifts; they always make me think of you and smile when I see them.” End your note by stating your appreciation that she was thinking of you because, although it is nice to receive gifts that we especially like, it truly is the thought that counts. Short and simple, your note will let her know that you’ve received the gift that she took the time to select (or make) and send to you, and will express to her that you recognize and are grateful for her thoughtfulness. The finished product may look something like this:

Dear Aunt Jane,

Thank you for the tablecloth you sent for my birthday – you never send run-of-the-mill

gifts! The colors in this remind me of the orange and lemon popsicles you used to make when I was a little girl. It was so sweet of you to think of me – thank you for remembering my birthday.

Sara Jane

Once writing thank-you notes feels less overwhelming, it can actually be fun! You may even find yourself looking for opportunities to pull out a notecard and pen to send a note of appreciation to someone. There’s always someone to thank for something . . . just keep your eyes open for the chance to bless someone else by letting them know that you notice their acts of service.

Article originally published in A Lady in Waiting: Holiday Issue 2007.

November 4th Blessing Book entry: I’m so thankful I live in a country where I have the right to vote.
November 5th Blessing Book entry: I’m grateful beyond words that my God still holds the world in His hands.

I didn’t have internet access yesterday, which is why I’m posting now for both yesterday and today. Please feel free to add links to both your November 4th and November 5th blog posts.


Entry filed under: Holidays, Life. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

27 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 3 27 Days of Thanksgiving – Day 6

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Dawn  |  November 5, 2008 at 12:56 pm

    Hi Rebekah, I hope you don’t mind, but I mentioned you in my blog today. I am really enjoying the 27 Days of Thansgiving idea, and I wanted to give credit where it was due. Thank you!

  • 2. coffeegirl217  |  November 16, 2008 at 9:41 am

    I really like this idea of the 27 Days of Thanksgiving! I wanted to let you know that I really appreciated this thank you note idea. My birthday was a few days ago and I wrote thank you notes to people I don’t usually write them to (my parents, grandparents, and uncle). I started out with a simple thank you for the gift. But then the note grew into something more, where I told them how much I appreciated them.

    I wish I had seen your blog at the beginning of the month so I could have done the 27 days. Oh well. Let me know if you find something for Christmas.


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