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Blog — dos and don'ts

Thank You Note Dos and Don'ts

Heidi Shenk "cards" dos and don'ts

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These days, when everything is at our fingertips via the internet and our smart phones, we often forget that handwritten notes can be one of the most important things when we need to thank someone. It's important that is someone gives you a gift or helps you in some way that you thank them. I decided to offer a few rules of etiquette when writing thank you notes.

DO send a thank you note within a week of either receiving a gift or an act of kindness. It's most appropriate to send a thank you note as quickly as possible so that the note doesn't feel like an afterthought to the recipient. The only times I would stray from this timeline would be after a shower or wedding. Generally, thank yous for showers should be sent out within 2-3 weeks and wedding thank you should be sent within 2-3 months, at the latest.

DON'T apologize profusely if your thank you note is late. A late thank you note is better than no thank you note. Write a quick and humble apology and then move on to the main item of importance-- thanking them. If you continue apologizing, it may quickly seem as though writing the note is a burden to you, which comes off as a bit rude to the recipient.

DO thank the person by describing the gift or act of kindness. Adding a tidbit about the item that you received or the advice that was given in the thank you note makes the note more personal and thoughtful. It shows that you appreciate the person that you're thanking.

DON'T use a thank you note as a passive aggressive way to let the giver know how you feel about the gift. If you received a gift that you don't particularly like, it's better to just thank the giver in a short and concise manner. If you received a red scarf from a friend and don't particularly care for red, now is not the time to let them know that you usually wear the color blue.

DO keep thank you notes to a quick few words about the specific thing for which you are thanking the person. I think many people aren't always sure what to write in thank you notes because they're overthinking it. Instead, they choose not to send one at all, simply because they don't know what to write. A quick note as below is best:

Dear Friend,
Thank you so much for the beautiful flowers! The orange and pink blooms really brightened things up on such a cold, winter day.

DON'T send an email when you could send a note instead. I think sending texts and emails has become so common that we often think it's ok to do the same as a thank you. In some situations, that is fine. If you quickly met up with a friend for coffee and want to thank them for their time, shoot them an email or text. However, if someone sent you a gift or went above and beyond to do something for you and you have their address, a thank you note is best. My general rule of thumb is that if I know the person well enough to have their address, then I send them a thank you by snail mail. Plus, who doesn't like to receive a thank you in the mail mixed in with all of the junk mail we receive on a daily basis.

Am I forgetting anything? What do you think is important to remember when sending thank you notes? I hope that these tips are helpful!


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