OK, so that sounds terribly mercenary. The truth is that there is nothing bad and everything good about thank-you notes, so you should send them all the time. Someone takes you out to dinner? Thank-you note. Takes the time to interview you for a job? Thank-you note. Present? You know that’s a thank-you note, and in the words of an etiquette expert I interviewed once, the note should be written before you open, eat, play with, look at, listen to or in any way enjoy the gift.
Anyway, I saw the apex of thank-you notes several years ago in the Gamma Phi Beta sorority house on SMU’s campus. The chapter had a bulletin board full of thank-you notes from other chapters, because of course Texas sorority girls love nothing more than thanking each other on official sorority stationery.
These notes … they were just so perfect. I’d been writing thank-you notes for years — good ones, that others always commented on — and I had nothing on these bitches. NOTHING. Comparing their thank-you notes to mine was like watching Michael Jordan play one-on-one against a 7-year-old with a broken elbow. They had, essentially, shut the thank-you note game down.
I copied their format, and have used it ever since. I will give you an example of me thanking my best friend for inviting me to her wedding, then parse below.
You were such an unfairly gorgeous bride. Seriously, you single-handedly stole the show from that delicious salmon, charming decorations, wonderful company and excellent/ridiculous dance party there at the end. I had such a great time; it’s the best wedding I’ve been to in years. Thank you so, so much for inviting me.
- Start with the word ‘you’ if possible, because everyone loves reading about themselves more than anyone else, and this signals your intent to gush early.
- A couple examples of what you were appreciative of. Be specific!
- How you felt or benefitted (so they get the warm fuzzy of knowing they made you feel happy).
- Don’t thank them until the very last line, and do it simply. “Thank you so much for this wonderful gift.” Etc.
Seriously, it WAS a really fun wedding. Thanks, Anne!