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Thanks for Everything

Tips on the (not so) lost art of writing thank you notes. 
by Patti Davis

The days have grown warmer. Summer is almost here. This means graduations, weddings, baby showers and fun weekends at friends’ beach houses. All of these occasions call for gifts, and if you are the recipient of these gifts, thank you notes will need to be written, especially if you live in the South.

Writing thank you notes might seem like a chore, but if you keep in mind the time your loved ones spent picking out a gift or hosting you in their home, it will feel less cumbersome. And when your mother asks you if you wrote that thank you note to Aunt so and so, you can say, “yes,” and show her that you truly are all grown up now.

Appropriate Stationery

I prefer Crane notecards with my initial embossed in gold, but almost any notecard will work for penning your gratitude. It doesn’t even have to be a card. Simple stationery will do the trick. Be sure to always have stamps on hand. Did you know you can buy them online at USPS.com or even from the cashier at your local grocery store? There is no excuse to not have stamps. Put them on your weekly shopping list.

Choosing The Right Words

Keep your note simple and heartfelt. Avoid starting with the words “thank you.” Get a little creative. Mention how you will use their gift or how you are still enjoying your glowing tan from the beach house. Include a special anecdote about how you have already used the gift or a memory of your time spent together.

Children Are Not Exempt

Teaching your child to write thank you notes will stay with them all through their lives and will become second nature to them as they mature. Even if your little one has not yet learned to write, they can always dictate to you and draw a little picture at the bottom. I even get thank you notes from my best friend’s dog, Ollie. That always tickles me.

Too Much Time Has Passed

We all get busy. If you feel too much time has passed between receiving the gift (or beach weekend or special dinner), don’t despair. You should generally write your thank you notes immediately, but even if time has passed, go ahead and mail out your sentiments. Better late than never. Never acknowledging a gift, dinner, special favor or visit in someone’s home might discourage friends and family from doing something dear for you in the future.

Sending thank you notes will set you apart from the crowd. You will be viewed as the most genteel of your social circle.

Check out our Thank You Notes Board on Pinterest!

Photo credit: Pictured is the “Arrow Thank You Card” from Native Bear in Atlanta on etsy.com. In addition to green, cards come in orange, lavender, yellow and sky blue.

Patti Davis lives in Atlanta and teaches etiquette at Dazzling MannersShe’ll be here every other month discussing general etiquette and other ways to make life a little nicer in upcoming columns. Past columns include “Mind Your Holiday Manners” and “Phone Etiquette for Toddlers.” Do you have an etiquette question? Comment and post it here or e-mail her at [email protected] and she would be delighted to help. You can also follow her on Twitter @DazzlingManners or like her on Facebook

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  • Marsha Middleton / June 11, 2012

    I couldn’t agree more. So many people are addicted to their computer and the not-so-formal email thank you notes. I still love to give/receive a good ‘ole fashioned, hand-written note just as much as I still enjoy flipping through a hard copy mag or newspaper. Great article! -MM

  • CC / June 11, 2012

    What a well-written and timely piece. Thanks for reminding us to be better to each other!

  • DT / June 11, 2012

    Love this article, Thanks Deep South for bringing this important subject back to the surface!

  • Veronica Pearman / June 11, 2012

    Thank YOU Ms.Davis! 🙂

  • Emily / June 12, 2012

    The too much time has passed one is the key for me, I get crazy busy, then start to wonder if it’s been unacceptably long, so it’s nice to know that there isn’t a cut-off date for these things =)

  • Tonya / June 14, 2012

    With our business, I strive to send a note card when we first meet a client. It does add a personal touch and it conveys the sincerity behind it over a regular ol’ email. Same applies in our personal lives. It’s never too late for etiquette.

  • Beverly Baxley / June 16, 2012

    My mother recently passed away and I spent two weeks writing personalized thank you notes with special memories to each person. I had many calls saying how the recipients of the notes were keeping them as a cherished memory of my mother. I am so glad she taught me how to write a note.