By: Jeanne Reynolds
The holidays are fast approaching, so I’m trying to give you as much heads-up as I can:
You have to write thank you notes.
Yes, you really do. And I don’t mean a text, email or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram post. Even a phone call doesn’t quite cut it. If you really appreciate the thought and kindness of the gifts you receive, and you really want the giver to know it, there’s simply no substitution for a handwritten note on real paper.
This applies to the kids, too. Even a 4-year-old can draw a picture while you write a few words for him or her. Start the habit now and it just might stick for a lifetime. (They might even thank you later.)
Oh, no, you moan: I don’t know how. I never know what to say. I don’t have time.
Well, relax. I’m going to teach you right now. It’s easy, it’s fast and you’ll feel wonderful afterward (and so will the recipient of your note). If I’m wrong, you’re welcome to pepper my front lawn with leftover mistletoe balls in January.
First, get some blank cards with envelopes or nice stationery. I prefer not to use anything preprinted with “thank you” so I can use them for other purposes. You might be surprised how much you enjoy writing on beautiful paper. And make sure you have a decent pen that won’t leave ink blobs and smears all over the paper (or you). I’m not talking fancy fountain pen here, just one that rolls smoothly.
Now, write. The basic thank-you note has just three brief sentences after the greeting:
1st sentence: “Thank you for the …” Simply say what the gift is, adding an adjective if you like. Examples: “Thank you for the lovely vase.” “Thank you for the thoughtful gift card.” “Thank you for the pretty scarf.” “Thank you for the great bottle of wine.”
2nd sentence: Describe what you like about it or how you’ll use it. Examples: “My flowers will look so nice in it next spring.” “It will really help with our upcoming vacation.” “The colors are perfect.” “I know we’ll enjoy it some evening soon.” Even if the gift is ugly as Sasquatch and you can’t imagine what Aunt Jane was thinking, you can still say something pleasant and honest. Examples: “It’s so unique.” “I’ve never had anything like it.”
3rd sentence: Praise the giver. Examples: “You were so thoughtful to remember us.” “It was so nice of you to think of me.” “It was great catching up with you.” (Just because the gift was given in person and you talked a bit, you didn’t think that got you off the thank-you note hook, did you?)
Finally, sign off with words appropriate to your relationship — “Love,” “Sincerely,” “See you soon!” or “Happy New Year to you and your family!” and your name, and you’re done.
That didn’t take long now, did it? And you’re welcome.