How to Write a Thank You Note: Everything You Need to Know

Writing thank you notes is a skill many of us should have, but perhaps have not yet sharpened. It’s one of those things in life that is absolutely required, but also somehow gets overlooked. Regardless of whether you’re a thank you note writing pro or are looking to sharpen your gratitude-writing skills, this post will cover just about anything and everything you’ll ever need to know on how to write a thank you note.

hand-painted-thank-you-note

How to write a thank you note — a general breakdown.

Before diving into thank you note etiquette, let’s begin our thank you writing journey with the general breakdown of a thank you note anatomy. This applies to most thank you notes, regardless of the reason that you’re writing it. For each occasion or reason, you might want to tweak some of this around, but for the most part it’s applicable to everything.

Here are 5 steps you can take when writing your thank you notes.

1. Start with a salutation.

It may seem obvious, but generally you’ll want to start your thank you message by addressing your recipient with a salutation. How formal or informal you choose to make this should depend on a few factors. 

If you’re well acquainted with your recipient and it’s not a formal thank you card (like a business interaction) then you may be fine addressing them by their first name. For example, if you’re writing to your college roommate to thank them for all the great memories — it’s likely safe to use their first name. 

For people you’re not quite as familiar with, stick to Mr. and Mrs. Last name.

  • Dear Aunt Jody & Uncle Max,
  • Johnny!
  • Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jones,
  • Dear Ms. Donnett,

2. Get right to the point and express your thanks.

Don’t waste any time and state the reason for why you’re writing — to thank them. The whole point of this card is to let them know that you appreciate their gesture/gift/time etc so make sure they know it right away. 

And while you’re at it, make sure to mention what it is that you’re thankful for. 

  • Your birthday card made my day, thank you so much!
  • Your birthday gift was perfect, thanks for thinking of me.
  • Thanks so much for your generous wedding gift.
  • Thank you for the opportunity to interview for the senior designer position.

3. Mention a specific detail or two.

What specifically, do you love about their gift? No need to go overboard or exaggerate, if it’s not the greatest pair of sunglasses you ever did see… don’t say so. However, do mention something specific that you appreciated or perhaps how you’re using their gift in your life. People love knowing that their time and effort was appreciated and used!

  • I’m so stoked to use the birthday money on my trip to California next week!
  • I wore your graphic tee today and got a bunch of compliments!
  • We’ve been smoothie-making machines for the past month; we are feeling great.
  • It was really exciting getting to know your organization and learning about the senior designer role.

4. Look ahead.

Sure you’re excited about that smoothie mixer they got you, but don’t forget to let them know that you appreciate them as an important person in your life. This may not apply to every single scenario, but if you’re likely to spend any time with this person you can mention that future meeting in your note as a way to move the message along. 

  • I can’t wait to have lunch with you guys next month.
  • I’ll be visiting your neck of the woods in a couple months, can’t wait to come and see you!
  • We’d love to have you over for dinner sometime soon and use the new martini glasses with you!
  • I am sincerely interested in the position and am looking forward to hearing from you soon.

5. Revisit the thanks & sign off.

Bring the attention back to where you started: to your gratitude. There should be no question about what the message is all about. It’s ok to spruce it up a bit, but try to stay away from over-the-top language.

  • I can’t believe you remembered my birthday, thanks again!
  • Thanks again for thinking of me, it means so much.
  • We are so grateful for your generosity, thank you for thinking of us.
  • I greatly appreciate your consideration.

End in a pleasant and friendly tone. Always keep in mind the type of relationship you have with the recipient(s) and sign off accordingly (professionally or casually).

  • Warmly,
  • Your Bud,
  • With love,
  • Best,

Who should you write thank you notes to?

How do you know when sending a thank you card is appropriate and who should you write thank you notes to? This question is actually not as tricky as it sounds. Whenever someone has done something nice for you like presenting you with a gift or going out of their way to help you, it’s definitely worth writing them a thank you card. No, sending a thank you text message is most definitely not the same thing. 

Of course there are actual occasions when thank you notes are basically expected, but huge life changing events are not the only time a thank you note is called for. In fact, the more surprising the thank you note is — the more special it will make your recipient feel. Below are some good solid reasons to mail a thank you note, but don’t let that limit you…

When in doubt — write that thank you card! 

  • Your cousin tutored you in Spanish after your last failed exam.
  • After a job interview.
  • Your neighbors helped you carry your groceries.
  • Your bestie brought you hot soup when you were ill.

The list of reasons is endless, but here are 10 everyday reasons that you require a thank you note.

Special occasions when thank you notes are expected.

While the reasons listed above are more everyday non-official type reasons to write thank you notes, there are special occasions when these little notes of gratitude are expected.

  • Weddings 
  • Bridal showers
  • Engagement gifts
  • Baby showers
  • Baby gifts
  • Sweet sixteen birthday gifts
  • Bar Mitzvah gifts
  • Bat Mitzvah gifts
  • Graduation gifts

Baby shower and newborn thank you card etiquette. 

From diaper cakes to a helping hand, your friends and family have done all they can to make your life as a new mom and dad as smooth of a transition as possible. Even though it may seem like you have zero time on your hands to give a proper thanks, you should try to get a few minutes each day to write out a thank you. [Plus, with Postable you can type the thank yous online and we’ll mail them for you.]

Who to send a baby shower thank you card to?

    • The baby shower hostess. Your first shower thank you should be addressed to the hostess. Hosting a shower requires a great deal of time and effort.
    • Everyone who gave you a gift. If Aunt Judy decided to send you a hand sewn baby blanket all the way from Florida, but wasn’t able to fly up for the shower you should still write a personal thank you.
    • Everyone who attended your baby shower.

As with wedding thank you cards, it’s best to try to keep a guest list close by when the gifts are opened so that you can keep track of who gave what. When a gift arrives in the mail, make sure to add to the list as soon as it gets in so that nobody goes un-thanked.

Remember to send your baby shower thank you notes in a timely manner. Don’t wait too long or the new baby will definitely delay the thank yous even longer.

Wording examples on how to write a thank you note.

So we’ve outlined the basic anatomy of a thank you note and now it’s time to put it into practice. The following are some wording examples for thank you notes you can easily customize to fit your occasion and need. 

Business thank you note wording for meeting.

Josh,

Thank you for taking the time out to meet with me last week. I really appreciate the opportunity you’ve given my team to present at your next office-wide meeting. I look forward to seeing this new partnership to fruition in the next few months.

Best,
Lisa Hillsworth

Pro tip: Make writing business thank you notes a part of your routine. Adding this step into your daily correspondence, will not only help to strengthen your customer and client retention, but can also increase employee morale. 

Thank you note for a baby shower gift.

Dear Josephine,

I was so delighted to see you at my baby shower! Thank you so much for the beautiful bassinet you got for little Marie, it’s already got a place in the nursery. Next time you’re in town, we’d love to have you over for dinner! Hope to see you soon and thanks again for thinking of us.

Love,
Kim

Baby shower thank you note for hostess.

Lisa,

Thank you so much for hosting my baby shower last weekend! The shower was lovely; it was so nice to see all of my friends and family. You have no idea how much I appreciate all of your efforts to make the shower so perfect. Let’s get lunch soon (before I’m no longer able to fit in the doorway :).

Forever grateful,
Laurie

Graduation thank you note wording for cash.

Dear Grandma & Grandpa,

Thank you so much for coming to my graduation party and your graduation present. I’m so excited to be finished with high school and way more excited to start college next fall! Your generous gift card is going to help me decorate my new dorm room. I’m looking forward to visiting you this summer. I’m so excited to go shopping, thanks again!

Love,
Janice

Pro tip: It’s easy to procrastinate on writing thank you letters, especially during that post-graduation buzz. Getting your thank you notes written and out of the way before enjoying the rest of summer will help jumpstart your new adulting habits!

Birthday thank you note for a friend.

Jody,

How in the world do you do this every time? The vintage notebook you got for my birthday was perfect. I was so happy you could make it to my party; I hope you had a great time! Thank you for the incredibly thoughtful gift!

Yours,
Mag

Birthday thank you note for coworkers (casual).

Y’all!

It was so awesome to walk into work on my birthday and see all those balloons in my office. It totally made my day! Thank you so much for your thoughtful gifts, you all went totally above and beyond. I’m excited for our company dinner next week, get ready for the best margaritas you’ve ever had!

Thank You!
Jill

Birthday thank you note for kids.

Aunt Jody,

Thanks for coming to my birthday party and for the awesome letter blocks you got me! I love playing with them and mom says I’ll be making real words any day now. I can’t wait to see you when you come visit me next!

Love ya tons,
Billy

Thank you note wording for wedding gifts.

Dear Suzanne & Billie,

The couples spa package will make for a perfect date for us when life gets too hectic, thank you! We’re looking forward to pampering ourselves soon as life has already caught us by surprise. We were also overjoyed to see you both at the wedding and can’t wait to see you guys when we come up for a visit.

Sending you our love,
Bobbie & Cody

Pro tip: Writing wedding thank you notes can easily be one of the most important thank you notes you’ll have to write! There also tends to be quite a few of these to write all at once. Take some time to organize yourself before diving into writing your wedding thank you notes!  

Thank You notes for help or kindness

Lucy,

You were so kind to spend a whopping three hours helping Joey study for his biology exam last week! I cannot tell you what that meant to him after weeks of struggling with the material. Not only did Joey pass, but he made the highest grade in the class and it’s all thanks to you! We’d love to have you over for Sunday brunch sometime soon.

All the best,
Dakota 

 

Tips for writing stellar thank you notes.

Thank You Dos

  • Do send a thank you note promptly
  • Do keep it personal
  • Do choose the appropriate stationery for the recipient and situation (pretty pastel bunnies may work for Aunt Judy, but not so good for a hiring manager)
  • Do double-check your spelling
  • Do surprise someone with a thank you note that may not be expecting it (your hairdresser or your favorite bar tender)

Thank You DON’Ts

  • Don’t assume a text is enough (or an in-person thanks)
  • Don’t ramble
  • Don’t go overboard (unless you really think the candle holders are the most beautiful things you’ve laid your eyes on, don’t say so)
  • Don’t send a pre-printed generic messages in lieu of a personal thank you note
  • Don’t use being late as an excuse not to write thank you notes at all, better late than never

Ready, set, WRITE your thank yous!