With this season of gift-giving and good deeds fully underway, I have to ask. When was the last time you sent someone a handwritten thank you note?
I never used to do that. Instead, I would shoot off a quick email or text. Maybe make a phone call for something really big, or just express my gratitude in person the next time the giver and I happened to cross paths.
Then earlier this year, a few friends went above and beyond to help me out of a pickle and I decided a simple, “Hey, thanks” just wouldn’t cut it. I needed to put my appreciation in writing with personal notes on whimsical stationery. The response was surprise for the most part – bordering on shock. It seems people just don’t do that anymore.
Now I make a habit of it – to the point where some naysayers have started poking fun, but I don’t care. If you do something nice for me, look out! For a statement of gratefulness in your mailbox from me, that is.
Here are my three tips for writing thank you notes:
1. They can be simple: Many people freeze at the thought of writing any kind of note because they underestimate the value of simplicity. Your thank you doesn’t have to be a novel. Acknowledge the deed – at least be specific enough that the recipient knows what the note is for – and how much you appreciate it. If the deed led to something else wonderful, let them know. For example, “We used your gift to…” or “Your contribution led to…” It’s really as easy as that.
2. Make them personal: You probably know people (read: me) who buy birthday cards and simply sign their names without adding anything to the pre-written messages. I don’t think that flies as well with thank you notes because you’re sending them to acknowledge a task that took real effort and perhaps some pre-planning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember playing much of an active role in being born.
3. It’s never too late: Especially this time of year, when you can use the excuse of “reflecting back on 2013” to send a note for something that happened months ago. It might even have a bigger impact now since it shows you still remember after all this time.
Now go forth and be grateful. Happy Holidays!