In the age of cell phones and email, you might think that thanking someone for a gift is a lost art. On the contrary. With few exceptions it is not only classy, but required by common decency, to thank someone who has given you a gift by way of a thank you letter or note. Thanking someone for his or her kindness is also an important lesson to teach children.
While a genuine, from-the-heart thank you letter should flow easily, there are a few key points to be certain to include. Knowing what you need to address in a thank you letter will give you the basic structure of the message, and you can "fill in the blanks," so to speak, with sincere sentiments regarding the specific gift and occasion at hand.
Be aware that some things you have seen done-such as having guests fill out the envelopes for their own thank you cards at a baby shower-are considered in some circles to be in poor taste. Also, you may have heard you have up to six months, or even a year, to send thank you letters for wedding gifts. Today, that is considered discourteous, not only out of etiquette concerns but for practical reasons: Givers will want to know whether or not you actually received the gift. With that being said, don't opt not to send thank you notes because "it's already been too long." Better late than never is an adage that can be applied to the matter of thank yous.
It may seem obvious, but be certain to clearly express your gratitude for the gift.
Very important is the need to specifically reference the gift itself, including how you plan to use or enjoy it. If the choice of gift reveals the givers' intimate knowledge of your likes and dislikes, be sure to acknowledge that. Also mention it if the item matches your décor, completes a collection, will make your life easier, etc. It may sound cliché or overdone, but it is also nice to say something along the lines of, "I'll think of you every time I wear it." If you don't like the gift, don't say so. Try to find something-anything-to compliment about it. In the case of a child writing a thank you note, or a parent writing one following a baby shower or on the behalf of a very small child, a photo of the baby with (or wearing) the gift would be a nice gesture.
If the gift you are giving thanks for is one of money, it is considered in poor taste to overtly reference the dollar amount directly. Some etiquette experts even go so far as to recommend that you dance around the issue of money altogether, referring to it as "your gift" or perhaps "the generous gift." However, most agree that it is appropriate to let the giver know how her or her money will be put to use: for example, to help with the down payment on a home or to go toward a long-desired piece of furniture or something specific for a baby on the way.
Consider referencing the giver's presence at an event, such as a baby shower or wedding, with a specific memory. You could also mention your eagerness to see the person at an upcoming event, or some undetermined time in the future. This would also be another chance to reference the gift. For example: "I am looking forward to using the serving set the next time we all get together for bunco." Alternatively, mention something the giver has coming up in his or her life, such as a trip, new grandbaby or other adventure.
Most thank you letters, at the risk of being redundant, thank the recipient one more time in the final paragraph.
While thank you letters for business-related gifts will obviously be more formal than a note to a friend or relative, don't be afraid in either instance to use humor and write creatively rather than in a stilted manner.
Index of Thank You Letter Examples