Writing notes of gratitude may be a lost art, but perhaps due to Jimmy Fallon, thank you notes are coming back in style. Here's 10 tips for how to properly appreciate someone:
1. Be sincere: Even if your Aunt Irene gifted you a cat sweater you totally hate (although I'm not sure why anybody would hate a cat sweater), try to give your gratitude honestly. E.g., you should say something like "this sweater is sure to keep me warm over the winter!" (fact) rather than "I've never loved anything more!" (lie).
2. Be timely: Timeliness is important when writing thank you's because it often reflects sincerity. A too-late thank you could look like an afterthought, and you wouldn't want that! Ideally, send thank you's no later than 2 days after the gift was given or event was experienced. (Oops, I guess I'd better start writing some..)
3. Be specific: Specificity is one of the cardinal rules of thank you cards. You'll want to name exactly what you're giving gratitude for, and even feel free to mention why you're giving thanks. I had a set of fill-in-the-blank thank you notes as a child, and they were good for this. "Thank you for the __________; I like it because __________." Sounds silly, but people like to hear why you enjoyed the gift and how you'll use it!
4. Find a cute card: Self explanatory. Re: That cute card, use a notecard instead of a letter. This takes a lot of pressure off you because notecards can fit approx. 5 sentences as opposed to the 15 or so you could fit on a letter. Chances are, you don't have a novel-worth of things to say in your thank you note, so keep it short and sweet.
5. Thanking somebody for a tangible gift: Send a picture! Snapping a photo really adds a nice touch to the note. I have a family friend who is so kind to often send me gift cards for my birthday or Christmas. I also have a tendency to save gift cards for a "rainy day," if you will, so I try to send a handwritten note and follow up with a picture text when I buy my new dress/candle/wallet/whatever!
6. Thanking somebody for an intangible gift: An interview is a good example of this. One of my friends sends a handwritten thank you note after any job interview she has, and I'm pretty sure she's gotten every job she's ever applied for. Another example is if somebody hosted you in their home, saying thanks may be implied, but writing it will make the host feel extra-special.
7. Appreciate presence more than presents: This should be a goal in life, whether or not you receive a tangible gift. Be grateful for the people who surround you. If they're giving you a reason to thank them, they probably care about you, so challenge yourself to appreciate the sender more than what was sent (even if they sent you, like, a billion dollars).
8. Write using your hands, with pen on paper: It's 2015, so digital thank you's are passable (any thank you is better than none), but you'll get bonus points for a handwritten note. Everybody loves to receive snail mail (as long as it isn't from MasterCard), and you'll look like the nicest person ever.
9. When in doubt, say thanks: "Should I send a 'thank you' to Susie for babysitting my pet lizard?" Yes. "Do I need to send a note to Sam saying thanks for letting me cheat off his math homework?" Yes.
10. When appropriate, thank the person in public: This probably goes more for intangibles than anything else, but sometimes it is nice to publicly recognize people for what they've done for you. Your friend probably won't toot his or her own horn, so toot it for 'em!
Dear people who read this blog post,
Thank you for taking the time to read this. It made me feel special. I included a few photos in the post; I hope you'll accept my gratitude.