29 Times When to Send Thank You Notes

Unsure of when to send thank you notes? Sending a personal thank you card is not reserved only for weddings and baby showers. We all know these special milestones typically call for formal thank you etiquette, but what about other times? Should you write a thank you note when someone gives you a random gift? What about after a check is handed to you at graduation? Better yet, should you write a thank you note when your neighbor steps in at the last minute when you’re stuck at work to walk your dog? All great questions and honestly, we can answer them with one simple word: yes. Yes, you should send a thank you note. It’ll rarely be a poor choice, however you don’t always *need* to. 

So how do you tell the difference? Below, we’ve listed out all the times when to send thank you notes is not really optional vs. when to send thank you notes is more of a nice gesture.

Before we dive into exactly when to send thank you notes, let us address the general timing etiquette of writing and sending any thank you notes.

When to send thank you notes: timing. 

  • The short answer: As soon as possible.

As soon as the event/favor/service, holiday or gift exchange took place. It’s best to send your thank you notes right away. The longer you wait, the less of an effect the thank you cards will have on your recipient.

  • The long answer: Late is better than never (almost).

While sending thank you notes right away is absolutely the best way to go, don’t completely give up on them if you pushed the task off for days or even weeks. Wedding thank you cards, for example, have a bit of a wider net of acceptable time frame than birthday thank you cards — which should really be taken care of within a week.

Regardless of how long you’ve put off writing your thank you cards — late is still better than never. Of course if you waited an entire year to send your bridal shower thank yous perhaps you can let those go (they will feel odd and out of place at that point).

And as always, if you’re feeling low on time — you can send your thank you notes within minutes using Postable. We’ll print, address and mail them all out for you.

Send really nice thank you cards in minutes. Postable will print, address, and mail them for you.

When to send thank you notes: 29 life events and scenarios

There are a number of times in life when writing thank you notes is a must. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t send thank you notes under more uncommon circumstances. In fact, the more surprising your thank you note is, the more meaning it will carry. When people expect you to send a thank you note and you don’t send one, it hurts. However, when they don’t expect a thank you and they do get one, it means a lot. 

Thanking someone is one of the simplest ways we can all show a little more kindness to one another.

So, to start let’s cover scenarios when sending thank you notes is a must: 

As we mentioned above, the appropriate timing to get these thank you notes sent out is asap. However, if you’re running behind it’s typically better late than never.

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1. Job interview follow up

Hiring managers are often bombarded with hundreds of emails. So, after you’ve killed it at your job interview you could take a couple of minutes to write a thank you email that will sit amongst all the others OR you could do something to stand out. The hiring manager will be much more likely to notice a personal thank you note and appreciate the effort. Writing a hold-in-your-hand thank you note doesn’t have to take a whole bunch of time (you could do it in 5 minutes). But the outcome will be felt much longer.

2. Baby shower gifts

If you’ve recently had your very own baby shower — first of all, congratulations! Second, baby shower thank you cards are not optional. Regardless of how busy you may be at the moment, taking a few minutes out of your day to show your appreciation is a must. You are probably up to your neck with new gifts for the baby that your friends and family took time and money to be able to give you. Make sure they know their efforts were appreciated. Don’t forget to thank the baby shower hostess too!

Send really nice baby shower thank you cards in minutes. Postable will print, address, and mail them for you.

Pro tip: Ask someone to keep a notepad and pen nearby as you’re opening presents. Have them jot down the gift along with the name so you know who gave you what.

Need help? See Baby Shower Thank You Note Wording Examples

3. Wedding related gifts

Weddings are a time filled with celebrations, parties, love, and joy. Also, there’s probably a bit of stress involved. Most of these things come with presents — a whole bunch of them. Whether you’ve received gifts from the engagement party, the bridal shower, or the big wedding day — each one of the giftees deserves their very own wedding thank you card. We know this time can get really hectic and a bit unorganized — making it hard to keep track of who gave what and when. This is why it’s important to keep a list of who gave what. It’s even better if you send out your wedding thank you cards as the gifts come in. This way you’re not stuck sending them all at once.

Pro tip: You can write all of your wedding thank you notes on Postable– even saving them as you go. Postable will print, address, and mail them all for you either all at once or one at a time as you write them.

4. Birthday party 

Not every birthday party will result in gifts, but many do. This means someone went out of their way to choose the perfect gift just for you. Make sure they know that you appreciated the effort. 

When it comes to kids’ birthdays, it’s even more important that birthday thank you notes are sent. Not only are you teaching your child the importance of writing thank you notes, but also instilling a practice of gratitude. 

[See Why Kids Should Write Birthday Thank You Cards].

5. Graduation

If you’ve made that special walk across the platform and have accepted your very own diploma — you deserve a big congrats! And perhaps you’ve received more than just that in the days surrounding your graduation. If your friends and family have gifted you with graduation goodies, make sure you thank them accordingly. Adulting lesson 101 — send thank you cards. This shows you’ve really stepped up your game and grown up. Take steps to avoid procrastinating on your grad thank you notes –– adulting can take up quite a bit of your time.

6. The holidays

Happy young woman with antlers untying ribbon on gift box while sitting at table with laptop in cozy workspace on Christmas day

The holidays are a time filled with family, friends, parties, joy, and a whole lot of eggnog. Oh and gifts, gifts, and more gifts. Presents under the Christmas tree are just the beginning. The holidays bring out the Santa in us all and gifts start to come from all directions — including our work. So, if you’ve been lucky enough to be surrounded by people who want to give you something special during the holidays, make sure you spend a few minutes sending them a holiday thank you card.

23 Other times when sending thank you notes is just plain nice.

We’ve outlined all the times when to send a thank you note is not an option. However, there are plenty (and we mean PLENTY) of additional scenarios when sending a thank you note is a really really nice gesture. Perhaps not required in these circumstances, but certainly appreciated! These are also the times when your recipient will least likely expect them so they’ll feel that much more special.

1.  Thank you notes to customers.

Ok, so one can argue this isn’t *really* optional, but since your customers are rarely expecting a thank you note, we’re considering this a quasi-optional scenario.

One of the easiest things you can do for customer retention is to write thank you notes to your customers. You want to keep them around, don’t you? Send a thank you note to your most recent customers and thank them for their business. This may very well pay off in future business.

2. Frontline workers

Another quasi-optional thank you card reason… Send a heartfelt thank you to those people working on the frontlines of our healthcare system. They’ve had a truly difficult year and a half now battling the pandemic. It wouldn’t hurt to let them know we’re thinking of them.

6. Awesome neighbors

You live in a 4th floor walk up and your 1st floor neighbor helped lug your bags of potatoes and milk jugs (or whatever) up all 4 flights of stairs. Perhaps you hosted a rather loud party and your neighbor was totally cool with it (and maybe you’re hoping they’ll be cool with it next weekend too). Did your neighbors bake you cookies? Or a pie. Or did some other neighborly thing that you would never have thought to do? Whatever the situation — a nice thank you note will go a long way to making your neighborly bond stronger. Along with making your living situation that much more comfortable.

7. Grandma made you a pie

While it may feel like grandma loves baking you pies — and she probably does — that doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve a great deal of gratitude. She loves you and would probably bake you a pie every day if she could. It’s your job to love the pie, your grandma (of course), AND show her your love and appreciation every chance you get. Just think how much she’ll love getting a nice note from you!

8. Your cousin was your tour guide

It’s your vacation, not theirs. As much as you think spending time with you is your family’s definition of the best-week-ever — it’s probably not. Taking time off work and showing you around town is costing them time and money. Make sure to thank them for their hospitality (not to mention putting up with you).

9. You turned out OK

Are you a semi-functioning adult? Can you go through a whole week and have a decent life without too many hiccups? Can you make yourself food? Or maybe afford to buy food ready to be eaten? Can you take care of yourself? If you turned out to be a semi-awesome to mega-awesome human, the likelihood that someone had something to do with it is pretty high. Mom & Dad? Your High school algebra teacher? Uncle Jerry? Let’s be honest, have you thanked them? Whoever it may be — let them know that you’re glad they helped make you, you.

Send really nice thank you cards in minutes. Postable will print, address, and mail them for you.

10. A random helping hand

Did someone go out of their way to help you with a favor? Someone you know secure a special reservation you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get? Perhaps a friend of yours got you a meeting with her supervisor for a project you’re working on. Whatever the random favor may have been — make sure you say thanks. In these instances, a text seems like a good go-to. And while that will work just fine, it won’t have the same heart-to-heart effect that a card will.

11. Thank you for being a friend

You know the one. Facebook is full of friend lists, but in reality there’s usually really just one –maybe two– friends that you can actually count on. The friend that is always there for you when you really need someone to chat with at 2am. Or the one that helped you move last week when everyone suddenly had other plans. Or even the one friend that’s always up to do something last minute! Why not send them a quick thank you note letting them know that you appreciate their friendship.

12. Your hair is stylin’

Your trusty hairdresser has skillfully turned your mess of a head into an Instagram-worthy masterpiece. They’re the one person you can go to for a haircut and know for a fact you’ll love the outcome. Haircut anxiety is real. Tips are obviously a must and are totally appreciated, but a nice thank you card will go a long way the next time you have a hair emergency.

13. Your dog is happy

This person takes care of one of the most precious living things in your life. Assuming you love your dog walker (if not, then maybe get a new one?), they likely make your little pooch very happy! Why not thank them?

14. Your boss is awesome

If you’re lucky enough to have a boss you like then you should definitely be thanking your lucky stars. But maybe first start by thanking your boss for being awesome. Did she take you out for lunch and give you advice on an upcoming project? Perhaps they were super understanding the last time you needed some personal days. It doesn’t hurt to show how much you appreciate your professional superiors.

15. You’re properly caffeinated

They know your order before your turn at the cash register even comes up. They know just how much milk to froth for your latte and how many espresso shots you’ll be needing that morning based on your hair situation. They’re magic. Your barista deserves a proper thank you note.

16. Your office is organized

Every workplace has someone who makes the office function. And more often than not, that person goes home each day without hearing a single thank you. You may not even notice all the work they do, but the day they’re not there — is the day you realize just how much they do for everyone. Send this person a much deserved thank you note — you have no idea how much of an impact a little appreciation can have.

17. Your assistant is killing it

Talk about doing grunt work. You work them hard. They work hard. Thank your assistant with more than just their paycheck. Go the extra mile and who knows maybe you’ll be getting a thank you note in the future for being such a great boss!

18. After a professional coffee date

Did someone take time out of their day to meet with you? Don’t be silly, sending a text thank you is not the way to thank a professional coffee date. Send them a personal thank you note.

19. You’re well educated

We’ve all had that teacher that’s made a big impact on our lives. A thank you note is an easy way to show your appreciation for the person who’s played a huge role in your educational development.

20. The government did something right for a change

Supporting your congress reps is a great way to let them know where you stand on issues. Did they fight against the grain for something you believe in? Send them a thank you card!

21. You have some guidance

Have a mentor? However large the impact they made on your life, make sure to thank them.

22. Your taxes were done

Who knows, maybe a sincere (and slightly elaborated) thank you card will get you some surprise returns next year!

23. Your children are looked after

We all know how much you appreciate the sitter. Last Thursday, he cancelled his dinner plans to watch Billy. He gave up his mom’s famous ziti to come eat pizza and play video games last minute just for you (or maybe the extra money). Either way, let the sitter know you’re thankful or next time you may not be able to go out with the girls last minute after all.

At the end of the day, there’s really no wrong reason to send a thank you card. People will almost always appreciate it. Wouldn’t you love someone to randomly (but totally sincerely) thank you for something?

Send really nice thank you cards in minutes. Postable will print, address, and mail them for you.