Etiquette 101 -- Thank-you notes

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I couldn't do this article without actually writing you a thank you could I?

But in reality, I'm far from perfect in getting out when I should. So, as I started to research this topic, I was surprised to learn a couple of things. First, it seems the most common reason people say they don't get a thank you in the mail is that they don't know what to say other than "thanks." Plus, I researched the etiquette rules and it was interesting that only in specific cases is a thank you required. But, that doesn't mean they should be ignored. I think it's a wonderful tradition to keep going.

And, these days, computers and email have taken the place of a handwritten note. Why not pick up a pen and drop a real note in the mail. I remember being a kid and being thrilled to receive something in the mail. I don't think that has changed.

Email or a Pen and Paper for your Thank You Note?

Let's start with the obvious, modern question. Seems like everything, invites, letters and thank you notes are all sent almost exclusively by email. I learned that of course, that's better than no acknowledgment but a hand written notes still trumps an email. The experts did say that if the person who gave you something or did something for you, almost always communicates with you via email, it makes it a little more ok. But, keep in mind that nothing beats a real note written by you.

The Thank You Note Content

OK, here we go. What to say? I want to say thanks, of course, but where to go from there? After looking at lots of perfect note samples, I pulled together a 3-part format that is really easy to follow. Here you go.

Acknowledge the gift or action specifically.

This part is where you say the real thank you. For example,

Thank you so much for the beautiful leather gloves you sent in the mail. What a nice surprise.

Say something specific about it.

I love the color. Purple is my favorite. And they're such a classic style.

Next, say something about how you might enjoy them in your life.

I can't wait to wear them to work. My hands are always cold when I hop in the car. I'll be warm and chic!

That's it! It's that easy. If you follow this format and make it your own, it'll work most every time.

If you are thanking someone for something they did, just adapt it to what the person did and instead of saying how you might enjoy an item, try acknowledging how you hope you'll be able to return the favor to that person or someone else.

Thank You Note Simplified Guidelines

Just simply keep these things in mind. But overall the most important thing is to make it personal and meaningful. Nobody looks for exactly the right words; it's the thought that counts. So, don't let that continue to keep you stuck in not doing it.

Informal is fine. Personalize the note and make it meaningful. Send as soon as possible, but better late than never. Show appreciation for the thought, even if you hate it!

And finally, as I mentioned these are the cases where a thank you note is always required in etiquette land.

Wedding, sympathy, baby, shower gifts/flowers. When a dinner party is held in your honor. Gifts sent in the mail. Gifts/flowers after a hospital stay. When you are a houseguest in someone's home. (If it is close family or friends, not required) Gifts of congratulations.

So, thank you again for reading this! Just keep in mind that even if one is not required, consider sending a few more this year. I can't think of a time when I didn't feel very special actually receiving a handwritten note. It certainly remains a lovely gesture.

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