10 Tips for Writing the Perfect Thank-You Note

By Billie •  Updated: 04/05/23 •  5 min read
what to say in a thank you card note

There is no secret sauce to writing the perfect thank-you note – as there are many ways to write an effective note of appreciation. But there are a few key guidelines to keep in mind.

Read on for specific tips and strategies for writing effective and meaningful thank-you notes, such as using specific language, personalizing the note, and avoiding common mistakes.

When to Write a Note?

A note of thanks should be written for gifts and thoughtfulness of all kinds.

The Basic Anatomy of an Ideal Thank-You Note:

  1. Acknowledge the giver
  2. Mention the specific gift or action appreciated herein
  3. Inform the giver of the impact of such gift or action
  4. Look forward to next interaction
  5. Sign your name

1. Acknowledge the Giver

Aside from beginning your note with a greeting ( “Dear Friend”), mention how grateful you are for her generosity and thoughtfulness:

“Dear Best Friend,
You always seem to get me exactly what I need!”

2. Keep it Simple and Specific

What to say in a thank-you card message?

You don’t have to write a novel (unless you want to include it as a thank-you gift). Simply acknowledge a gift directly by saying, “Thank you so much for the ______.”

If you were given some money, do not list the exact amount; write, “Thank you for the cheque.”

“Thank you so much for the new brown cardigan.”

3. Tell Them How Their Gift has Changed Your Life

Let the giver know how you will use the gift and say something nice about how the gift has made a difference in your life.

This is pretty easy if you like the gift, but if you hate it, then try to find some redeeming attribute that you can mention — just don’t go suspiciously overboard by touting the world-peace-inspiring virtues of homemade fruitcake.

If you were given money, let the giver know how you plan to use it.

“The material is so soft and cozy, it will definitely keep me warm this winter in Winnipeg.”

4. Talk About Seeing Them

End a note with a mention of seeing the giver, either in the past or in anticipation of seeing them again.

Par example, “It was great to see you the other night at dinner. I hope we can do it again soon!”

This will link the giver to you and acknowledge your past, present, and future relationship. Life is all about personal relations.

“I loved seeing you this week and I am looking forward to your visiting us this summer. No need to bring fruitcake; I’m sure we’ll still have some left over.”

5. Don’t Give a Thorough Update on Your Life

Thank-you notes are simply meant to show your gratitude for someone else’s kindness.

They are the applause at the end of the day; short, impactful, expressions of appreciation. They are not the place to dilute your message of thanks nor to discuss what is going on in your life — save that for an e-mail or phone call.

6. Sign Your Name with Affection

Or end with any salutation that you feel comfortable signing off with, but make sure that you do sign the note clearly. There is nothing quite like receiving a note and not knowing whom it’s from. (This is where those graphology classes come in handy.)

“With love and best wishes, Me”

Putting Pen to Paper: Writing the Note

Blank Stationery

Invest in simple note cards (as opposed to sheets of stationery, which are traditionally considered more formal and reserved for condolences, recommendations, and business correspondence). The focus is on the writing, not the paper design.

Use Blue or Black Ink

Write in conventional blue or black ink. Or send an email, if you must. In an ideal world, send out the thank you note as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to actually write the note.

…that being said, a late thank-you note is of course better than not sending one at all.

Remember to Send the Card – It Has More Significance Than You Think

“Writing thank-you notes is not just good manners, it has strong psychological effects for both the sender and receiver.” Sept. 2018 Psychological Science

To remind yourself to send a thank you, instill in your mind that you cannot use, wear, eat, or drink the gift until the thank-you note is in the mail. [See helpful hints for more.. helpful hints.]

Consider this: if you want to thank someone — your boss, best friend, spouse, business partner, neighbour who kindly mowed the lawn while you were on holiday, — you already know what deed or thought or way of being you appreciate about them, right?

That’s the hard part, done. Now comes the easy part — saying the thanks *to* them, in the way in which you’d want to hear thanks expressed to you. Make the love in your heart known to others, in a sincere, keepsake, handwritten note. We can work on the wording.

And it is good for you, too.

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I like to climb mountains, read Nietzsche, and explore the West Coast. I have a BA from York University (2003) in Toronto, Canada, and yet on this site I sometimes spell like an American (know your audience). Thank you. Thank you very much.

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