How (and When) to Send a Thank You Note

Far from being an abandoned tradition, the humble thank you note is a classic way to make a good impression. Here are the basics, from when a thank you note is required to how to do it properly.

By: Ellen Foord

When: After Receiving A Gift

You probaby already knew this one from every single birthday when you had to go down the list and write thank you notes to your family members for the gift they sent. But even as an adult, even when everything is digital, a proper thank you note will set you apart from your peers and show off your class and poise.

When: After A Job Interview

This. Is. Critical. Send it by mail (stick it in the mail within an hour of your interview to be sure it arrives the next day) or by email, but within 24 hours of an interview. You need to send a note thanking your interviewer for their time, mentioning one or two specific points from the interview that you enjoyed or were thought-provoking, and a subtle, but positive affirmation of why you’re the ideal candidate for the position, based on something you learned in the interview that wasn’t in the job posting.

When: After Attending A Party

It’s no easy feat to be a party host. From all of the prep work to the expense of the food, decor, and drinks, it’s a massive amount of work. Show your appreciation to your host by sending a note detailing why the party was the highlight of your social calendar for the month.

When: After Leaving A Job

This one often gets overlooked in the chaos of getting situated in a new position. But where you land next is always about who you know. Keeping in contact with colleagues and bosses from previous jobs will serve you well throughout your career. A short note about why you enjoyed working with that person and what they taught you will be appreciated and will cement a positive lasting impression of you.

What to Say

We’ve all been there: Sitting over a blank notecard, paralyzed with writer’s block. The easiest and most authentic thing to write is an honest thank you. If you're writing about a gift, include a personalized observation of how the gift made you feel/cheered up your space/functioned while using it. Keep the note short and sweet and you’ll be done in no time.

Stock Up on Stationery

Having cards and stationery on hand will make it easier to jot down messages and send out thank you notes promptly. With so many gorgeous stationery choices, the only hard part with be picking which ones to buy. Shop handmade sets online or DIY your own with craft stamps or watercolors. 

The Perfect Pen

As analog letters are gaining steam again, there are more and more people who are using notes to express themselves. Shop craft stores for pens that allow you to add decorative elements, a pop of color, or a little calligraphy.

DIY Calligraphy

Addressing an envelope in an unexpected way will set the tone for a killer thank you note and leave the receiver blown away that you took the time to hand letter the envelope, instead of scratching it out illegibly. Show off your creative side. Use a brush pen and ink to create some brush stroke calligraphy, or space out the address block. Try adding decorative elements on the back like birthday candles or garland for the holidays.

Novelty Stamps

Stamps always seem to be in scarce supply just when you need them most, right? Avoid letting that thank you note sit on the counter awaiting a stamp by making sure you grab a few sets of pretty stamps the next time you make a post office run. 

Make an Address Stamp

Another trick to add to your bag, if you’re hoping to make note writing habitual, is a customized return address stamp. It’s a small detail, but it’s affordable and ups the wow factor on any envelope. It also makes mailing large batches of holiday cards a breeze.

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