Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Rules for Thank You Notes

My son’s sweet wife challenged me to do a blog entry on Thank You notes, so I think I will do it today, when everyone is out playing in the sun, BBQ’ing with family and friends, and not indoors reading blogs. 🙂

Thank you notes are a specialty of mine. Mom taught us the necessity of thank you notes when we were little; I think I remember we couldn’t play with something at Christmas or Birthday until we had written our thank you notes. We didn’t like it, but we got used to it.

As I grew older, I realized how much I liked getting thank you notes. I noticed that I liked them best when they were personal. When I worked for charitable organizations, I discovered that writing a good thank you note could 1) make a person happy they had given a good donation 2) increase the probability that they would donate again and 3) increase the likelihood that they would increase the size of their donation, as well as continuing to donate. All those are good things when you are raising money for a good cause.

I also discovered that I was likelier to be considered for a highly-sought-after position by writing a good thank you note. Every edge counts in a competitive job market. Thank you notes give you a big edge – out of 100 applicants, very few will take the time to write that note.

Many believe that hand-written notes have gone the way of the dodo, but they still exist, and they still are welcome.

I noticed that both of my parents became less likely to use their computers as they aged; one day computers will have greater voice recognition capabilities, but until then, the keyboards are difficult for older fingers, and the screens are difficult for aging eyes. The elderly love a hand written note, something they can hold in their hand, something they can pull out and read again and again, something they can share with a visitor.

So: Rules for thank you notes

1. A late thank you note is better than no thank you note. It doesn’t matter how late.

2. An earlier thank you note is better than a later thank you note.

3. You can write thank you notes more than once for the same item. For example, if ten years later, you pull out that Waterford bowl you got for your wedding, and have used for special occasions ever since, you can take a minute to write a note telling the giver how much your enjoyment of that bowl has been over the years, and he or she will be delighted to hear it again!

4. A handwritten note is better than an e-mail thanks, and an e-mail thanks is better than no thanks at all. Many people do e-mail thanks these days, like “thanks for dinner last night, we had a great time” etc. If you are REALLY thankful, hand write that note.

Here is a template for a sweet but short Thank You note:

Dear (name),

(Thank you so much) for the (wonderful) (fascinating) (beautiful)(lovely) (ITEM). We are (blown away) (delighted) (honored) (so grateful) (amazed) that you would think of us at this time.

(One personal line like:

“John says he can imagine us using this (X) for years to come!”
“We can see the sweet thoughtfulness you put into choosing something so right for us.”
“So-and-So says she is wearing it to school tomorrow!”
“You must have spent hours making that! We are amazed at the time and effort you must have put into it/them”)

Again, many thanks for thinking of us and sending such a nice gift.


(Under NO circumstances can you say:

“Why on earth did you think we would like that??”
“That doesn’t look like me at all!”
“It’s horrible! Unspeakably horrible!”

And then you sign. It helps to have little sets of notecards, not too large, so you don’t feel like you have to fill the whole thing. If you have kids, have them draw or paint a picture to enclose. Or send a photo. Put a stamp on and post it. Yes, the old fashioned way. If you don’t have the address, get it. Sometimes you can even find addresses online. You know, Google it. 🙂

So I challenge YOU. Try it. When you receive a gift, write a quick thank you and mail it off. If you think about someone with gratitude, write them a short note to tell them. You can even e-mail a thankful thought, it’s better than not sending anything, even if it is not a handwritten note.

July 4, 2012 - Posted by | Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Character, Civility, Cultural, Experiment, Marketing, Tools, Values, Work Related Issues


  1. This is your Thank you Note for keeping this nice blog going for so many years , Thank you

    Comment by daggero | July 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. Holy Smokes! Thank YOU, Daggero, for encouraging me all this time, and helping it to be fun. 🙂 Thank you, too, for challenging me when you disagree. Part of the reason I keep doing this is that it helps me grow and stay current, and to look at things from another perspective. You’ve played a big part in this.

    I got a thank you (again) for a dinner we gave in Qatar many years ago from a man I barely knew, but he was on R&R out of Iraq and was able to see the culture in an entirely different way. His note blew me away.

    Comment by intlxpatr | July 5, 2012 | Reply

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