a couple of weeks ago ABN asked me what i considered myself an expert in. huh (see a confused LBN, scratching her head and thinking…). expert? that’s not really my thing. i’m more of a learn-from-others-get-inspired-be-creative-and-try-try-try-again kind of girl. does making a chocolate cake out of a box count? ’cause i’ve got that down to a science.
but a few days ago, it dawned on me – there is one thing on which i am an absolute expert. the training has been passed down from generation to generation, from THE REAL NANI, to my mom, to me and one day, to EBN. it will be our ever lasting legacy – how to write the perfect thank you note*. below, find my tips:
1. get going, don’t delay: the most important determining factor in a good thank you note is when the note gets to its intended recipient. if a giver went out of his or her way to get you a gift, or do something to make your day better – then you can go out of your way to get a thank you out in a matter of days or weeks. believe me, it’s easier to send a note when the gift or good deed is still fresh in your mind. it feels less like something you need to do, and much more like something you want to do – which should really be the sentiment…no? some of my own timing guidelines: for stand-alone thank you notes, those that are written in response to a dinner party host etc – 48 hours turn around – TOPS. for thank you notes that come in groups – for instance – a child’s birthday party – you’ve got 1 week baby. for something larger – say, a wedding perhaps – i’m going to go with 1 month (give or take to allow time for a honeymoon)**. but really, there is no reason to let the notes linger. think about how good you will feel when you cross that last thank you note off your list. and while thinking that your list is oh so long…get over it and just write the notes. think about it this way – if you write 10 notes a day, for 10 days, that’s 100 notes. do that twice. that’s 200 notes. if gifts come in before the actual event – get a head start! take advantage of the opportunity to tell the givers how much you are looking forward to celebrating with them. this leads me to my next tip….
2. make it personal: make it clear that not only was the specific gift or service special but the giver is important to you as well. it’s not just about the candlesticks, right? one thing that makes those candlesticks special, is that they came from your favorite uncle mel. take the opportunity of the thank you note to tell mel how much he means to you.
3. be specific: none of this, “thank you so much for the gift…” nonsense. if you are going to write that thank you note, you may as well start writing now and just add a date and a name later on. rather, let the giver know how grateful you are for the gift and how you plan to use it – for example, “thank you so much for the gorgeous candlesticks. we can’t wait to light them the next time we have a dinner party.” or “thank you so much for inviting us to brunch on sunday. i can’t decide what was better – catching up or that french toast casserole!”. with gifts of money – specifics can be tough. if you are using that money for a specific purpose – ie college fund, travel – go there. otherwise a simple, “thank you for your very generous gift in honor of my birthday – it means so much that you would think of me,” will suffice.
4. skip the complaints: this isn’t so much a tip for writing the thank you note itself but more of a general life lesson (from me…the expert…remember?). i find it
annoying difficult to listen to others complain about writing thank you notes. i get that it might not be the most fun for everyone (because in all honesty, i find it a great stress reducer) but i think we have to remember, we’re thanking people for a generous act and when we complain about it to others, well that kinda negates the purpose…no?
and there you have it. i’ve imparted my wisdom to the best of my abilities. go forth – write thank you notes and spread the gospel. in a few months we can all come back to this space and laugh about how writing thank you notes is now the in-vogue thing to do. maybe ALANIS can be our mascott:
*this post is written in honor of a FABULOUS thank you note i received last week, following the wedding i attended in atlanta. not only was the note extremely personal and thoughtful but it arrived less than two weeks after the event and the gift wasn’t even ordered until after i returned home. i’m saving it…forever.
** there seems to be a widely held belief that after a wedding your wedding you have until your 1st anniversary to write your thank you notes. i completely disagree. you have 1 year, as a guest, to send a wedding gift. thank you notes should still be written for gifts in the order they are received and in a timely manner. please help spread the word