I hope you are having a nice summer so far! It’s my favorite season—full of weddings, birthday parties, barbecues…and thank you notes. Sometimes thank you notes can seem like a chore, but if you do it right, it can be a real opportunity to cement growing friendships, strengthen family ties and let loved ones know you care. If you’ve ever had a blank card staring at you in the face and wondered what the best way is to go about expressing your thanks without sounding insincere, I have a few tips for you:
1. Imagine the person you’re writing to.
Pause and take a moment to envision the recipient of your thank you note. This will help put you in a frame of mind to appreciate the human being behind the gift and not just the gift itself. It will also help you set the right tone for your note. You don’t want it to sound like you’re in a hurry and just trying to cross one more thing off your to-do list.
2. Value time and presence, then things.
After you imagine the person, think about how they took two of their most valuable resources—their time and their money—and spent it on you! If someone gives you a gift at an event like a wedding or a shower, be sure to thank them for being there for you on your special day. Their presence is the most meaningful gift of all and should be the first thing you mention.
3. Give an example.
If someone took time out of their life to specially hand-pick a gift for you, they would probably love to hear you’re putting it to good use. For example, if your Aunt Anne gave you a set of knives for your wedding, be sure to let her know how you’ve been using them for dinner every night (without cutting a finger off, lol). People like to know that their efforts are not for nothing!
4. Send your thank you note as promptly as possible.
As a new mother, I have to confess that I have gotten behind—way behind—on my thank you notes. And let me tell you, there is no more sinking feeling than when a loved one asks, “did you receive the gift I sent?” If possible, try to have your note of gratitude in the mail within a week of receiving your gift. The longer you wait, the less grateful you seem–which, of course, is not the case! (But do be a little forgiving to new moms who get behind on their notes. They are juggling a lot!)
5. Keep organized gift lists.
If you have an event coming up like the holidays or a birthday, where you think you might receive a lot of gifts, be sure to keep ONE organized master gift list. This is another lesson that I learned the hard way. I had one list of baby gifts from my shower that was handwritten during the event, and another list for gifts sent to our home saved in my computer.
Wouldn’t you know some dear friends sent gifts both to the shower and after the baby arrived, and I failed to cross check the lists when writing my thank you notes. So after my note arrived they became worried that I missed their second set of gifts—how embarrassing! Then I had to write a second note to the same person, double the work. All of this could have been avoided if I had kept one well-organized list of gifts. (I might add, bonus points for super-detailed gift descriptions on your list!)
I hope these tips will help you the next time you have a stack of notes to write. Above all, don’t be discouraged. Writing heartfelt thank you notes is so much better than a quick email or text. Sending some happy mail to the gift giver is a great way to reciprocate the generosity that they’ve given to you right back.
If you would you like to receive more articles like this, be sure to sign up for my e-mail newsletter here and receive a free wedding vendor worksheet: http://eepurl.com/bs1E8H!