How to Write the Perfect "Thank You" Note

Express your sincere appreciation with a thank you note.
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Even in this age of social media and digital communication, some old-fashioned correspondence forms still remain in style. Such is the case with the formal thank you note. Any time you receive a present, you should follow up with the giver by composing and sending a polite thank you note. Doing so shows the giver of the gift that you care for her and that you are sincerely grateful for the present she bestowed on you.

Handwrite your note. A handwritten note seems more personal. It also allows the recipient to see that you spent time on the correspondence and that you didn’t instead, simply create a form letter in a word processing document and change words or sentences to create faux-customized thank yous.

Address the gift-giver. Start your thank you note with a polite and traditional, “Dear” followed by the name of the giver. Use the name by which you would normally call the giver. For example, start your note to your beloved aunt, “Dear Aunt Sally,” not the stilted and overly formal, “Dear Mrs. Sally Ann Simons.”

Thank the individual for the specific present she gave you. Never say something vague such as, “thanks for the gift.” Instead, show the recipient that you remember the exact item she gave you by composing a specific statement like, “Thank you for the striped sweater you gave me for my Sweet 16.”

Describe how you will use the present. Gift-givers want to feel that you will put to good use the presents they so painstakingly selected. Put to bed their worries that the present in question is destined for the trash by including a sentence such as, “I will put the notebook you gave me to good use when I head to college next year, as I plan to keep a journal of my experience.”

Add a thank you for attending if the giver gave you the gift at a party or other event she actually attended. If, for example, you received the gift at your graduation party, try, “It was so wonderful to see you at my graduation party. Your presence made the event even more memorable for me.”

State your desire to see the gift-giver in the near future or to correspond again soon. Express this desire in a single sentence like, “I hope to see you again before I move to Europe in the fall.” This simple addition shows the gift-giver that you care and is a solid way to round out your carefully composed note.

Conclude your letter with a complimentary close. Select the complimentary close that best fits your relationship with the giver. If you are writing a thank you to a close relative for whom you feel affection, using the closure “love” is a wise choice. If you are not quite that close to the gift-giver, try something less ardent such as, “yours truly,” or the always safe -- if spelled correctly -- “sincerely.”

Add your signature. Unlike more formal communications, such as business letters, you do not need to both sign and print your name. Signing your name alone is fine, though you should take care to ensure that the signature is at least remotely legible.

Mail your letter. Even if you will see the gift-giver in the near future, you should still send your letter via post, as doing so allows her the pleasure of receiving word from you when she likely didn’t expect to.

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.