Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” – G.B. Stern

Oh, Merci!

Gifts, hospitality, random acts of kindness – they all deserve a written thank you.  Though etiquette allows for two weeks to a month, I recommend writing sooner rather than later.  If you’re anything like me, let one day slip and twenty slip with it.

But I’m not a writer, you say.  Great!  Then thank you notes are just the thing for you – they’re short and sweet and basically write themselves.  All you need is a few basic writing materials, maybe a guideline or two, and you’re on your way …

What you need

Blank note cards, wee stationery, or even post cards are perfect for jotting a note of thanks.  Yes, you will be writing longhand, so you must have a writing utensil of one sort or another.  Again, etiquette demands black or dark blue ink; we say ink of any color goes as long as it’s a dark. 

What you write

Before I delve into what to write, a bit on what not to write – mainly, a thank you is not about you.  This is not the platform to whine about your boss from hell, or lament the fact that more people did not partake in the gift-giving tradition.  Focus on the gift and the giver.  And here’s how it’s done:

Greeting: Seriously, I should not even have to mention this, but, alas … do not forget to greet the recipient.  At the very least write his/her name; preferably add a traditional salutation, such as dear or dearest so-and-so.

Gratitude: Thank you for such-and-such.  The first line.  Every time.  If the gift was money, write a general “Thank you for your generosity,” if you were invited to the recipient’s home, “Thank you for your hospitality.” See, so easy!

The initial thank you leads right into a sentence or two regarding why it was so appreciated.  But, you say, my great-aunt Millicent gives me a pair of old lady panties, two sizes too large, each year for Christmas.  Do I have to lie and tell her I love them?  Thankfully, there is no lying in thank-yous.  When the gesture is not exactly your cup of tea, appreciate the thought rather than the gift itself.

Grace: Can you say thank you too much?  No, no you cannot.  So say it again.

Close: Finally, the words with which to close.  The most popular include fondly, love, or with love for friends and family; sincerely, kind regards, or best regards for others.  Take your pick then sign your name.

Envelope: Envelopes should be written longhand, in the same ink as the note – this is not the time to showcase your label making prowess.  If you used a square shaped card or wax seal, don’t forget the extra postage.   Then you have only to drop your note in the post.  And chances are, you will survive the experience with very little lasting trauma.

So the next time someone shows you a kindness, set aside a few moments to show it was appreciated.  Play your favorite music, light candles, pour yourself a cup of tea, a mug of coffee, or a glass or wine and write a thank you or two.  But do be careful.  There may come a day when the perfect card makes you giddy; when you sit in rapt anticipation, fountain pen in one hand, personal wax seal in the other, just waiting for an excuse to write a thank you.