Classic Post: How to Write a Great Thank You Note

Put those grateful thoughts on paper - and mail them

“Thank you, the phrase, ‘the greatest thing since sliced bread,’ for making me seriously wonder who’s in charge of deciding what the greatest thing is.” – Jimmy Fallon

I’m sure you received a lot of nice gifts for Christmas this year.  If you want to stand out as a man — to be the best version of yourself possible — take the time to sit down and write thank you notes to the ones who gave you those gifts.  Not only is expressing gratitude the right thing to do, sending thank you notes displays genuine old-school manners — the kind a gentleman should always show.

Thank you notes

Take note! There will be a test later

If you’re new to the idea of thank you notes, or a bit out of practice, here are some tips to help make the process a breeze:
Place — Sit down in a comfortable spot.  I find working at a desk or table to be most conducive.  Have your materials ready so you can establish and maintain a rhythm.  It can help to have the gift you’re writing about in view, as I’ll explain in a bit.
Pen — If writing thank you notes is an art, ink is your medium.  Choose a pen that has enough ink and a sufficient line weight (0.5 or 0.7 mm, for example) so Grandmom doesn’t have to squint.  These words of yours might be kept, so think permanent thoughts.
Paper — Write your thank you notes on cards made for that purpose, or on quality paper or card stock — not loose-leaf or printer paper.  If you buy pre-packaged note cards, you’ll already have envelopes of the right size ready to go.
Prompt — A thank you note that arrives soon after you’ve received a gift shows grace.  A note that arrives months after the fact seems grudging.  Go for gracious and get those notes out within a week or so if possible.
Particular — Here is where having the gift in sight is helpful.  It’s also where you can shine.  Of course, say thank you for the sweater, but even better, express what you like about it — the color, the fit, how soft it feels, or how you’ll appreciate the warmth of it this winter.  Don’t overdo it — thank you notes are meant to be brief — but do offer details that help convey how your gift was a hit.
Personal — We all know how difficult it is to convey tone and inflection in writing.  And for better or worse, there are no emojis for handwritten notes.  In these cases, you must summon some words that speak to the relationship between you and your gift giving friends and relatives.  Even something as simple as, “You always give such thoughtful gifts,” can turn up the brightness in your note.
Postal — Sure it’s easier to send a text or an email — and I’ll admit that’s far better than not sending a note at all.  However, sending an actual note on dead tree in your own handwriting is what separates the men from the boys.  Yes, you have to buy stamps, but you no longer have to lick them (progress!).  But those notes will set you apart in the minds of those who receive them and strengthen your relationships.
Pro tip:  Thank you notes aren’t just for Christmas gifts.  Make writing and sending them a habit whenever you receive a gift — especially the gift of someone’s time.

So how about you?  In what ways do you intend to become a better note writer in the coming year?  Add your comments below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Bring your best manners, please.

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