In the modern era of texts, emails, and social media, it has become easy to show your gratitude, and what a wonderful thing to have more gratitude expressed in the world! In the days of yore when everything had to be written would you have told someone that you are obsessed with those brownies they made and then asked for the recipe? Or that their holiday card made you so happy? I doubt it. We can now show our love over the tiniest things, every day. Did someone make you happy today? Go text them. Right now.
But for the big things, a written thank you note is essential. What counts as the big things?
-Gifts, whether physical or monetary.
-Attending an event, such as a wedding, an important party, or a funeral.
-Special effort, when someone helps you out with something.
For some people dashing off a thank you note is easy breezy, but for some it is a merciless burden. And like any nasty task, you procrastinate and avoid it, and then are slowly crushed by guilt as you pass that stack of stationery waiting menacingly for you on your desk, glowering at you with blank pages.
I am generally one of the easy breezy kind, but even for me at times I cringe away from doing it. I think to myself, "Not today, I've got sooooo much to do, like look, I've gotta unload the dishwasher! I can do it tomorrow. It's okay if they're a little late. Or a lot late. I'll just stick "belated" somewhere in there so they'll know that I know I'm late."
How long is it okay to let slide a thank you note? Ideally you should do it within a week of an event to allow for postal time, but for some things that's just not possible—such as weddings, funerals, or births. In that case people will give you two or three months grace. But no matter what, no matter whether it's two months or six, it's better late than never! Do not let guilt make you postpone it until it's the next year suddenly and you feel like a total ass and can't even bring yourself to call them.
Thank you notes do not, in fact, have to be brilliant. Nor do they have to be stunningly original. All they have to do is be from the heart. And here is a crib sheet on how to start off.
This is the easiest. Stick with "Dear [insert name]" and you will never go wrong. If it is a dear friend you may address them in a more personal way, that is up to you. "Hi there", "My darling", "Bonjour, my dear", whatever feels personal or even an in-joke between you.
-Thank you so much for...
-It made my day when...
-I can't thank you enough for...
TIP: Never use the word "money", replace with "your generosity" or "your kindness"
-For gifts, discuss how you are using or will use the gift. "It is exactly what I wanted and I use it every single day!"
-For attending an event, say how happy or grateful you were to have them at the event. "It meant so much to us that you were at our...", or "We are forever grateful that you came to the...", or "I will always remember how you helped me during this difficult time"
-For a monetary gift, mention how you plan on using it—"We will be using it for a helicopter tour on our honeymoon!" "We are putting it towards getting Brandon the tricycle he has been obsessed with for months!"
I believe in the third line, unless you have over 50 thank you's to write after a wedding or something of the sort. But the third line can still be easy:
-We are so lucky to have such wonderful family...
-I am so grateful to have you as my friend...
-I am so blessed to have you in my life...
-Do you know how awesome you are? You are more awesome than bacon.
Restate your thanks, and mention the future. Feel free to use exclamation marks if it feels appropriate—the only exceptions are for professional colleagues, friends of the family, and old-timers who just aren't into all that extra grammatical stuff.
-Thank you again for... and I hope we can see each other again soon.
-Again, thanks so much, and I hope to see you soon!
-Thank you again, and I'll send you a picture of Brandon on his new tricycle!
Even this can be fraught, but just choose from the appropriate one below:
-Love or With love, (family and close friends)
-Yours or Your truly, (friends or semi-close acquaintances)
-Sincerely, (older family members, professional colleagues, or just to play it safe)
-or draw a heart (yes really, you can, for dear ones I do it all the time, especially when I run out of space (which is frequent))
That's it! Greeting, thank you line, second line, closing line, sign-off. Or another line in there if you've got the time and the person really is just the best and deserves some true gushing. Want even more possible sentences? Here's a great source, Words Of Appreciation
You need never fear the hulking stack of thank you's again. Attack those cards, brandish your pen like a sword (since it's mightier than it), and treat yourself to an ice cream afterwards.