Etiquette Guide: Thank You Notes

-By Diana Minnocci-


Letter writing, like fashion, is an art. In fact, etiquette expert Emily Post even suggested that, “the letter you write…is always a mirror which reflects your appearance, taste, and character.” For thank you notes, this may be especially true. A handwritten thank you is eminently tasteful; it demonstrates certain gratitude and anyone who has ever received one knows how much appreciation the gesture fosters. So, here are our top tips for writing a thank you note that is sure to impress.

When to Send

You should aim to mail your thank you note as soon as possible, preferably within a week’s time. If you’re sending out a large number of cards, such as after a wedding, up to three months is considered acceptable. But, should you delay, better late than never is the rule, here.

Of course, knowing when you should send a thank you note is requisite. Plan to do so any time a present is received, even if it has been opened in front of the gift-giver; after attending a dinner party; when you’ve received a handwritten sympathy letter for the passing of a loved one; to guests of your wedding, bridal, or baby shower; when you’ve been hosted for an overnight stay; and, of course, as a follow-up to a job interview. It’s also great practice to send a handwritten thank you whenever friend has done you a special favor.

How to Address

Family members and close friends can be addressed by their first names in the salutation inside the card (“Dear John and Jane”) but should receive formal designation on the envelope (“Mr. and Mrs. John Doe” or “Mr. John Doe and Ms. Jane Jones”); for your sign-off, simply write your first name. For all others, it is most appropriate to also use courtesy titles in your letter (“Dear Mr. Businessman” or “Dear Ms. Family-Friend”), and to include your full name in your sign-off. And, you should avoid unnecessary abbreviations, especially on the envelope (“Doctor,” “Avenue,” “New York,” “And,” and the like, with “Mr.” and “Ms.” or “Mrs.” as the exception). When in doubt, always err on the side of caution.

What to Write

When writing, be sure to be specific in referencing the kindness of your addressee’s gesture; your note should convey genuine appreciation, and the inclusion of details will help you to best express that sentiment. In writing to offer thanks for a gift, you might make mention of how you expect it to be incredibly useful, or how you’ll think of the gift-giver each time you see it; to thank the hosts of a dinner party, you can emphasize how much you enjoyed a particular dish, or recall how interesting you found the conversation shared over the course of the evening. Do be personal. A thank you note is most successful when it’s warm and heartfelt.

Where to Buy

The best way to fall easily into the habit of writing thank you notes is to always keep a blank pack of cards on hand. Choose stationery that is classic but that also suits your individual taste, for a one-card-fits-all approach. Don’t forget to also store a pack of stamps, and if you really want to make an impression, purchase and keep a separate calligraphy pen just for the task. Below, we’ve provided a few of our favorite stationery and writing items, so that your thank you notes will be as chic and stylish as you are.

1.  Crane & Co. Die-Cut Edge Gold Thank You Flat Cards

2. Christian Lacroix Boxed Postcards

3. Neiman Marcus Monogrammed Correspondence Set

4. Christian Lacroix Oro y Plata Correspondence Cards

5. PAPYRUS Tortoise Print Thank You Cards

6. Neiman Marcus Hand Bordered Stationery

7. Whitney English Black Emily Notecards

8. Montblanc Princesse Grace de Monaco Fountain Pen

Diana Minnocci is a freelance fashion writer with graduate degrees in English and Women’s Studies. She’s particularly obsessed with fine lingerie and red lipstick, and is a lover of all things vintage. You can follow her on Twitter @dianaminnocci.

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