Do I Really Have to Write a Thank You?

Stephanie Hamling Ask a Southern Girl Handwritten Notes Life Lessons Thank You Cards Tips

I appreciate handwritten notes. That includes thank you cards, condolences, RSVPs, and even notes "just because." I grew up in a family that tucks notes under windshield wipers, into backpacks, and onto bathroom mirrors just to say, "I love you!"

I know, how lucky am I?

Today, sometimes it seems like society has given up on basic manners. In truth, we haven't. Rude folks just make the most noise.

How to write a sympathy note

When & How to Write a Thank You Note

Thank you notes serve a practical purpose. When someone takes the time to select and send a gift, they want to know that it actually made it to you. Try to drop a note in the mail within two weeks of receiving the gift, maximum.

For gifts received in person at showers or holiday parties, a thank you note is still appropriate. With the hustle and bustle, it's easy to miss thanking each person individually.

Thank You Notes Aren't Just for Physical Gifts

When you've been a guest in someone's home, been on the receiving end of help, or been interviewed by a prospective employer, send a thank you.

When writing, mention the gift and how you plan to use it. Or mention the act and the effect it had on your life. Thank the person for thinking or you or considering you for the position.

When to send thank you notes

Sending a Note of Congratulations

Celebrate events, achievements, and milestones by sending your congratulations. Mention the event, your joy and excitement, and, if appropriate, future plans to celebrate in person.

When it comes to new babies, especially, having everyone you know visit at once can be overwhelming. A line or two in a note can be read and enjoyed on the parents' timeline.

Expressing Sympathy

Sympathy notes are one of the hardest cards to write. But, they are often the most meaningful. 

If you can, include a specific memory of the person who has died, even a funny one. It will remind the family that their loved one left a lasting impression on others.

Be considerate of the bereaved's beliefs. A sympathy card is not the place to press your own faith or views.

Responding to an Invitation

When you are invited to an event, a reply is a must. And be prompt and definitive in your response. It's impossible for the host to plan a dinner party without an accurate headcount. If you can only attend a portion of the event, such as cocktails but not dinner, let your host know in advance.

If you are invited to a party by call, text, or email, you can respond in kind. And, even mailed invitations may include a preference for an alternate RSVP. Consider what is best for the host, and use that method to reply to the invitation.

Etiquette & Tips

  • Your personal stationery is appropriate to use for any note. 
  • If you don't have personalized stationery, keep a stash of simple note cards on hand.
  • If you send a pre-printed card, add a brief message of your own.
  • For couples, the writer typically signs only their own name but mentions their partner within the body of the note. For preprinted cards, both sign.
  • Young children can "sign" a thank you that you have written, draw a picture, or copy a few words that you help compose. Get them in the habit of saying thank you.

Sending thank you notes for wedding shower gifts

The Most Important Thing About Writing a Note Is to Do It.

Remember, you aren't being graded. And, it doesn't have to be a novel. Nor does it have to be formal. 

(And if handwritten notes are absolutely not your thing, find another way to connect with people and show them they are valued. The world needs that.)

Do you write notes by hand? Do you have personalized stationary or a favorite pen? Talk to me in the comments! 



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