How to write a thank-you note 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.

WHO

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.

WHAT

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.) 1. 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,

2. 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…

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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!

6. 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,

WHEN

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…”

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Jeanne Field Jeanne Field enjoys quilting, killer sudoku and washi-tape hoarding in her free time—which she has more of now that her 2 kids are in college. She hopes to live 1,000 or so more years so she can make ALL the quilts. Thank you notes are an appropriate way to express gratitude to a friend, loved one, or colleague for any sort of gift or act of kindness. They’re also a great way to connect with friends and loved ones or strengthen your relationship with a friend or partner.

When to Send a Thank You Note

It’s never wrong to send a thank you note, and people always appreciate getting “thanks” for their efforts. And if you’re thinking about whether or not you should write a thank you note, you probably should. Anyone would appreciate receiving a thank you note, and some people may be expecting one. All gifts should be acknowledged with a note, unless the present was opened in front of the giver—then you have the chance to thank them in person.

  • After you’ve received a gift, whether from a wedding, shower, or birthday
  • After you’ve attended a party or event which someone else spent a great deal of time organizing
  • After receiving handwritten cards, whether congratulatory or otherwise (notes of condolences)
  • After receiving gifts or notes of well wishes during a period of illness

Context matters. Read more about what type of thank you notes to send under different circumstances.

Is it Too Late to Send a Thank You Note?

Write your notes as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate if you feel you’re late: A late note is always better than no note at all.

The Power of a Handwritten Thank You Note

Handwritten thank you note that says It’s always correct to send handwritten thank-you’s, and people always appreciate them. Handwritten notes are warmer and more personal than a phone call or email, and only second best to thanking someone in person. Email is okay to thank for a coffee or meal that was casual or whose invitation was extended by email in the first place. It’s also okay for very small favors. But for dinner parties, big favors, an actual gift, or being a houseguest, handwritten thank-you notes are your best bet for an expression of warm, heartfelt thanks. There is simply nothing as personal as a handwritten note. In a stack of bills and flyers, it’s a treasure in a sealed packet, full of promise and potential. It is a visceral reminder of someone far away. They are an opportunity for us to connect to the people in our lives in a meaningful way. In an increasingly informal digital world, continuing to pull out pen and paper is a way to distinguish yourself. The handwritten thank-you note speaks volumes simply as a medium and sends the message that you care enough to invest yourself personally in acknowledging another. Handwritten notes still have a personality, warmth and, when needed, gravitas that computer screens don’t. And questions of appropriateness aside, people still enjoy opening them. More than anything, that tells me they have lasting value. So, send a little joy someone’s way.

How to Write a Thank You Note

Sometimes it’s easy to write off a heartfelt thank-you note. Other times, writer’s block can set in—especially when you are staring down a large stack of them. Before you start, remember that thanking people needs to be about just that: expressing thanks. So refocus, reorganize, and rethink the process. Above all, try to enjoy yourself. Giving thanks shouldn’t be a chore—and doesn’t have to be if you make the effort to keep it interesting. This is a brief note, about four sentences, meant to express something you are grateful for. Be sure to say what you mean directly. The thank-you note is special; it’s to express your appreciation, so keep the focus there.

  1. Use a salutation.
    • Formal/Professional – Dear {{title}} {{last_Name}},
    • Professional – Dear {{first_Name}} {{last_Name}},
    • Close Professional/Social – Dear {{first_Name}},
    • Social – Dearest {{first_Name}},
    • Good friend – First name, Nickname, or Initials
  2. First sentence – Thank them explicitly for the specific gift or act for which you are writing the letter.
    • I am so thankful/grateful for…
    • I want to say how much I appreciated…
    • I am writing this note to acknowledge…
    • I want you to know how much I value…
  3. Second Sentence – Personalize the note with an original thought about the things you are thanking for, the effort or thought behind it, what it means to you and the relationship.
  4. Third sentence (optional) – Pull the focus back and think about the future. Suggest future actions or direction or develop the thought from sentence two.
  5. Fourth sentence – repeat the thanks or offer a concluding thought.
  6. Use a closing.
    • Formal/Professional/Social – Sincerely
    • Professional/Social – Best regards, Regards, All the best, Best, Respectfully yours, Cordially
    • Social/Personal – Yours truly, Warmly, Affectionately yours, With great affection, With love, etc.

Read more tips on how to write thank you notes.

Examples of Thank You Notes

Professional Sample:

Dear Carla Ramirez, Thank you for taking the time to meet with me on Monday. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about your team and look forward to working together over the coming year. Please feel free to reach out to me if I can help with anything during the transition. Thanks you again and I can’t wait to get started. Sincerely,
Daniel Senning

Social Sample:

Dear Arya, Thank you so much for sending the new baby blanket you made for Anisha. It is simply the softest thing that has ever touched our little one, I don’t know how you make such wonderful things. You are beyond thoughtful. I do hope that you will make time for a visit as soon as it is possible, we can’t wait to see you in person. Thank you again for everything, we can feel the love from here. Yours truly,
Millan Still have questions? Read our thank you card FAQs.

Teaching Your Kids Why & How to Write Thank You Notes

Sure, it sounds like a dream: Your children running up to you and begging to write thank-you notes to their aunts, uncles, and cousin Pete. It could be a reality—if you cut out the obligation and play up the gratitude. Explain the value and purpose of the notes: “Thank-you notes are a special way to tell Nanna & Grandpa how much you liked their present.” So focus on fun and honest sentiment. Get creative. Make what could be hours of boredom into an event they want to take part in—and in doing so take some of the burden off yourself. Read our article on how to teach your kids to have fun writing thank you notes.

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