Social Graces: The Lost Art of the Thank-You Note

So you have this rockin’ big 3-5 birthday party at your house, and your friends bring you some really thoughtful gifts to congratulate you on getting close, but not all the way, to 40. I’m not talking about a 6-pack of beer – more like a stylish shirt or a pair of fancy earrings or a really Oh-Emm-Gee-cute photo collage that your BFF had made on Etsy by some craftswoman-extraordinaire out of North Dakota named Barb, dontchaknow.

You DID send them all thank-you notes, right?

Thank-you notes are a quickly-vanishing social grace, it seems, in today’s society, both in our personal lives and our business lives. And I’m talking about the hand-written, pen and paper thank-you note. With email and Facebook and Twitter, there are so many easier, alternative ways to thank somebody for a gift or their time. And in a lot of cases, that’s an acceptable manner of showing gratitude. It’s really fun to tag someone in a photo of something tasty they brought to share at work or to thank a friend on Facebook by posting a photo of the little onesie that they sent for your kid (new moms get a pass in the “real” thank-you note department). But in instances such as:

  • Grandma, thanks for starting the college fund for my child
  • Friend, thanks for hosting (read: paying for) my birthday party at your house
  • Cousin, thanks for the gift card for a 90-minute massage “just because”
  • Potential Future Boss, thanks for your time interviewing me

…a handwritten thank-you note is key.

Thank-you notes are important in our personal lives without question. I think they show character and respect when written and sent out for meaningful gifts and gestures. Thank-you notes have their place in business, too, as referenced above with the job interview. I’m pretty sure I got my first job because I was the only one to write a real note to my future boss, put on a stamp, and pop it in the mail.

Yes, sometimes life does get in the way of proactively acknowledging a gift, but it’s so important to show your gratitude to people who give their time and kindness.  Just a few short lines can really make someone feel appreciated, special and respected.

Not sure what to write, though? Here’s your Mad-Lib-style Thank-You-note primer. Just copy, use the proper information, edit the adjectives to fit your needs, and bam! Insta-thank-you-note.

"Dear Friend/Relative/Future Boss/Rich Benefactor,

It was really great seeing you/hearing from you/meeting you at my birthday party/job interview/charity event! You looked lovely in that stunning emerald gown/dapper tuxedo/mumu that Aunty Shirley sewed.

 I wanted to say “thank you” for such a kind, generous birthday gift/interview/gracious donation to my child’s future at an Ivy League. Your thoughtfulness and time are very much appreciated, as I know that you’re very busy these days with work/bocce ball/group exercise class/trying to make Partner at the Firm.

I can’t wait to use my new puzzle/shirt/money/job offer to do great things/have tons of fun. I am really looking forward to the opportunity to enjoy some girl time/send my kid to camp and drink Pinot/work very hard to achieve this company’s standards of excellence.

Again, thank you for everything, and I look forward to hearing from you/working for you/toasting our empty nest/getting into the best local public school by way of bribery soon!

Sincerely,

Me."

Now – go thank some people!