In Defense of the ‘Thank You’ Note


Growing up, my mother was strict about very few things, but she insisted on thank you notes. She’d provide the stationary and the stamps, and I’d duly jot down my gratitude for birthday presents and invitations. Her lesson stuck, and ever since, I’ve always intuitively reached for a pen and ink when I want to express my gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an enormous fan of more practical forms of online communication, but there are still several occasions where only a handwritten note will do.

Consider this your modern guide to the (hand)written word with templates, suggested occasions, and stationary advice for writing the perfect thank you note.

How-To Write a Perfect Note…

General Tips…
– Be effusive (even if you don’t love it!)
– Use specific examples (“Remember that time we talked about…,” how/when you plan to use the gift)
– Consider the formality of your tone (There’s no such thing as too professional)
– Respond within the day for a professional note and within a week for personal (So that you never have to begin a note with, “I’m sorry for the delay…”)
– If thanking for a gift card, list the item you plan to buy or have bought with it

Click “More” for a list of occasions that call for a note, templates and a guide to my favorite stationaries.

Occasions For a Thank You Note…

Informational Interview. You never know where an informational interview might land you, and spending the extra five minutes to send a note (or even flowers) might be the difference between extinguished communication and substantial career help.

Official Interview. One of my mentors once told me that she gave a job to her assistant because the assistant had sent handwritten thank you notes immediately after the interview. The gesture implied that she was thoughtful and followed through with correspondence.

Gift (Wedding, Birthday, Holiday). This should go without saying, if someone spends the thoughtful time and money on you, the least you can do is spend a Forever Stamp to tell them how touched you were.

After a hosted dinner party. My mother’s other rule was “Never show up to someone’s house empty-handed,” but if you made a mad dash to dinner and forgot a hostess gift, a thoughtful note after the fact can make up for your oversight.

A friend who went above and beyond. I’m always most touched when a friend gives me an out of the blue note to thank me for something I’ve done. A little goes a long way!


Personal Thank You Note Template Professional Thank You Note Template

Here is a helpful starting place for more templates!

My Favorite Stationaries For a….

general professional note: Kate Spade
sweet thank you to a close friend: Rifle Paper Co.
laugh-worthy note: Paper Source
note for a wedding gift: Simply Said Press
for the envelope: Kawaii Goodies