- Etiquette requires you to send a thank-you note in the following situations:
- Wedding gifts
- Bridal shower and baby shower gifts
- Holiday, birthday, Bar/Bat mitzvah, graduation, and housewarming gifts
- Sympathy letters, flowers, mass cards, or donations made in the deceased’s name
Thank-you notes are not necessarily required but are a nice gesture in the following situations:
- When a host has treated you to a cocktail party, dinner, or concert
- After a job interview
To write your notes, we have put together a selection of some of our favorite correspondence cards which can be viewed here.
Components of a Thank-You Note
1. Address the giver.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Henderson, or Dear Mary,
It may seem obvious, but addressing the giver directly rather than simply starting your letter gives your note a more personal touch.
2. Express your gratitude.
Thank you so much for the silver picture frame.
Be sure to be specific when you mention the gift. Instead of just saying “Thank you for the glasses." try “Thank you for the beautiful crystal champagne flutes." It will make your note feel more personal and less generic.
If the gift was money, never directly mention “cash” in the note. Instead, thank the giver for his generosity.
3. Discuss how you plan to use the gift or how much the gesture means to you.
We’ve put a picture of the family on our last vacation inside it and placed it on our mantel. It looks great!
Mention how you intend to use the gift and compliment it in some way. If the gift was money, allude to how you intend to use the money by saying something like, “It will be a great help to us when we purchase . . .”
It is sometimes more helpful to describe how meaningful the gesture is to you, such as "John and I know you spent countless hours assembling this photo album, and we will always treasure it."
4. Mention your relationship to the giver.
It was great seeing you at the house warming party, and we hope to see you again this spring at the reunion.
Somehow acknowledge your relationship to the giver and their importance in your life by mentioning the past and alluding to when you might encounter them again in the future. If the person is someone you don’t usually see, simply say something like, “You are in my thoughts, and I hope all is well."
5. Reiterate your gratitude.
Thank you again for your kind gift.
Robert and Kate Regan
A thank-you note is exclusively about expressing your gratitude, so don’t worry if your note seems short and simple. The only hard and fast rule is that it be sincere -- even if you cannot stomach the present, you can express gratitude for the gesture, at the very least.
It is best to send your thank-you note as soon as you can, within a week if possible. Princess Diana is said to have written her thank-you notes each evening before bed. While you probably don't need a daily routine, some discipline is helpful, particularly with those notes which are difficult to write, as when you don't know the addressee well. Having stationery you enjoy using, a comfortable pen, and a store of stamps can help, along with a designated writing desk and good light. Soon you will find yourself writing notes for no reason at all.
While you should try to send thank-you notes within a week or two, "better late than never" certainly applies. If you're a month or more late, still send your note, but make it particularly thoughtful. There's no need to waste space with excuses because there are none -- just apologize and carry on. Your recipient will be just as delighted to get your note.