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Excerpt from The Art of Thank You

by Connie Leas

A note of thanks can be as short as three sentences, provided you say something about the qualities of the gift and express your appreciation. Make an effort to sound enthusiastic. Even if you don’t especially like the gift, do convey your appreciation for the thought and effort that someone has spent on your behalf. (“It was so thoughtful of you to remember our anniversary with that one-of-a-kind chip-and-dip set.”)

When composing the note, be yourself. Avoid using words or phrases you wouldn’t ordinarily use. For example, I wouldn’t say, “The cut-glass pitcher is perfectly marvelous!” This just doesn’t sound like me. However, you will likely use a slightly different style and tone in a letter to a close friend than to someone with whom your relationship is more distant or formal. (“The electronic organizer is amazing! I’ve been hankering for one of these for years,” versus, “The electronic organizer will be a big help in my new position. I deeply appreciate your thoughtfulness in selecting such a useful gift.”)

At a minimum, a thank-you note for a gift should include these elements:

  • Reference to the present itself. Mention the specific item you received. (“Thank you for the magnificent collectors’ edition of War and Peace.”) Never refer to the item you received by the general term “gift” or “present,” as in “Thank you for the lovely gift.” The giver will infer that you don’t remember what was given. Besides, this form of expression indicates your laziness and lack of consideration for the feelings of the giver, and it does not adequately express gratitude for someone else’s generosity.
  • Detailed remarks about its qualities. Say something specific about the attributes, craftsmanship, or other qualities of the gift. (“The workmanship on the beautiful hand-tooled leather binding is exquisite.”)
  • Reasons why you like it. State what you like about the gift and how you are going to use it. (“I’ve been looking for just this edition to add to my collection. Of course, I’m also looking forward to reading it—something I’ve been meaning to do for years.”)
  • A closing sentence. The closing sentence can be a final thank-you or expression of appreciation, or it can be unrelated to the gift, such as greetings to family members, an expression of your affection, or an indication of the ways in which your relationship to the giver is special. (“It’s been such a blessing for me to have you for a godfather.”)

Here’s an example of a five-sentence note:

Dear Susan,

I love the sweater you sent for my birthday. It’s a gorgeous shade of red, and will be perfect with the new slacks I just ordered. I’m planning on wearing it to the Stanford/Cal game this Saturday. Many thanks!

I hope we can find a time to get together this fall. It’s been too long!



This one is only three sentences:

Dear Bob and Sue,

Thank you so much for the gorgeous Italian hand-painted serving platter. It’s such a showpiece that Mary and I can’t decide whether to hang it on the wall or use it for meals—we’ll probably do both!

You’ll be among our first dinner guests after we return from our honeymoon.


1 Response

Suraj L.
Suraj L.

November 25, 2017

Thank you for this point to point article o “Thank you note”. I have started using these tips in my Thanks giving notes. :-)

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