Thank You Notes

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Not as hard as you think

A personal, handwritten thank you note is the finest form of expressing gratitude. It doesn’t take that much effort and time and is the most tangible evidence of genuine appreciation.

Here are eight guidelines for both business and personal use.

Ideally, send thank you notes within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the gift. The sooner you send it, the greater the impact. However, it is never too late to send a note. Use the slow time between Christmas and the New Year to catch up on your notes, no matter how much time has gone by.

To save time and stress, keep a supply of note cards and stationery, plus postage stamps handy at all times.

Write all notes by hand.
Take your time, regardless of how impaired you think your handwriting looks. No emails, IMs, telephone calls or faxes, please.

Pay attention to how the card faces when opened.
I can’t tell you how many times I have received cards written on the wrong side or in the wrong direction. For vertical, left-creased cards, begin writing on the inner, right side of the folded card. For horizontal, top-creased cards, begin writing on the inner, lower side.

Begin the note based on your relationship with the receiver. For a personal correspondence where you are accustomed to calling the person by their first name, “Dear John and Mary, [first name followed by a comma],” is proper. For business notes, stick to formal salutations until you are invited to address the person by the first name: “Dear Ms. Smith: [an honorific and last name, followed by a colon]” is correct. For informal business notes to someone you want to address by their first name, “Dear John: [first name and a colon]” is also appropriate.

Be specific in your thanks. When thanking someone for inviting you to a meal or event, mention how happy you were to share in the experience, a person you enjoyed meeting or a food item you particularly liked. When thanking someone for performing a favor for you, explain how important his or her gift of time was for you. For physical gifts, name the item along with something nice and complimentary about it, regardless of what you plan to do with it later.

Rather than say, “Dear Aunt Sarah, Thank you for the lovely gift. I really like it. Love, Syndi,”
say, “Dear Aunt Sarah, Thank you very much for the beautiful black sweater for my birthday. It’s just the perfect item to wear at an evening occasion, where I want to stay warm, yet still look dressy. Your loving niece, Syndi Seid”

Sign your first and last name clearly at the end of your note. An exception may be to an immediate family member who knows who you are by your handwriting.

Address the envelope using the person’s full name and appropriate honorific.
Include your full name and return address. Use a regular postage stamp rather than metered postage to send your note.

Happy writing!

Syndi Seid is a celebrity speaker, international author, and founder Advanced Etiquette. See for complete information.

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