A Little Gratitude Can Go A Long Way
I was always taught to say "thank you" whenever somebody did something kind for me. When I received a gift or was invited to have dinner at somebody's house I was to send a handwritten thank you note. When I was younger I felt awkward writing a note and thought it was a redundant practice since I had already expressed thanks in person. As we now get more emails, texts, facebook messages and fewer letters in the mail, the practice of sending a handwritten note has become that much more valuable.
When To Send A Card
There are certain times that a thank you note is more or less obligatory; wedding gifts, baby gifts, after being a house guest for an extended stay, etc. The best notes come from true gratitude, if you are feeling thankful for something big or small, there is never harm in sending a note.
What You Need
To get started you will need stationary, a good pen, an address book and postage. The stationary that you use need not be formal but simple plain note cards are inexpensive and can be completely personalized. I would stay away from generic thank you cards that offer you little room to write or fill-in-the-blank spots.
How To Address Your Cards
If thanking somebody for their hospitality you need only address the host or hostess, not the entire family. If giving thanks for a gift you should address all who signed the gift card. I would recommend always addressing your cards as formally as you would address the person. In a social setting do you refer to "John Smith" as "Mr. Smith" or as "John?"
What To Write When Giving Thanks for a Gift
Dear (name as per above),
Thank you for the (description and name of the gift). Write a sentence about what you did with the item and/or why you like it. If you did not truly like the gift this is not a time to be honest, instead move on to the next sentence. Thank the person who purchased the gift for thinking of you on (whatever occasion the gift was for). If the gift was just a random act of kindness you can leave it at: It was so kind of you to have thought of me.
Love, (for family or close friends) Warm regards, With gratitude, Yours truly,
(sign your name neatly so that the person can recognize it is from you)
To make the above more personal, you may choose to add an additional line to the note after the expression of thanks. Such as: I look forward to catching up with you when you are in town. Have a wonderful trip to Spain, I look forward to hearing about it when you are back. Best wishes to John and the kids. etc.
What to Write When Giving Thanks for the Gift of Money
This situation can be a little bit awkward but it is important to give thanks. When expressing thanks for money, do not reference the amount instead refer to it as "the generous gift" regardless of the amount. Really any amount is generous when you know it is coming out of somebody's pocket and into yours.
Thank you for the generous gift. State what you plan to do with the money or have done with it. (We placed the money in our account to put towards the down payment on our home. I finally picked up the scarf that I had my eye on, I will be thinking of you each time I put it on.)
Warm regards, Love, With gratitude, Sincerely,
(a clear signature)
What to Write When Giving Thanks for a Dinner
Dear (name of host or hostess),
Thank you for having us for dinner on (fill in the day of the event). The food was outstanding and we are still talking about the delicious (fill in a highlight from the meal - shrimp, cake, wine, etc.) - you truly outdid yourself!
We look forward to getting together with you again soon. (If you plan to reciprocate suggest next time at our place)
Thanks again, Love (for family and close friends), With thanks, Yours truly,
(a clean signature)
What to Write When Giving Thanks for Hospitality
Thank you so much for having us for the (name the weekend, or holiday, overnight). Your home is warm and cozy and you are such wonderful hosts. Your kindness and hospitality is sincerely appreciated.
Love, (for family and friends), Yours truly, Warm regards,
(a legible signature)
If you wish to reciprocate be sure to extend an invitation to your hosts. "We hope you will come to visit us next Summer."
What to Write When Giving Thanks for a Favor
A favor could be a friend helping you move, a reference or even somebody lending a listening ear when you needed it. Whatever it is, big or small, it is never frowned upon to give thanks, you may need to be a little bit creative with the basic guide below.
Thank you for (fill in the blank with the favor provided). Write a statement about how this favor helped you or made your life easier.
Reiterate your thanks. Again, I really appreciate (said favor, the time you took to do said favor, your thoughtfulness, etc)
Sincerely, Love (for family and friends), Warm regards, Yours truly,
(a tidy signature)