Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Art of Writing the Perfect Thank You Note

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I'm not a very sentimental person, but I'm definitely a sucker when it comes to handwritten notes and cards. The art of constructing the perfect handwritten thank you note is dying though, and I think it's a great tragedy. While I'm a huge social media addict, I don't think anything will ever replace the specialness of a tangible, handwritten letter. I admit I might save screenshots of "online" texts or keep memorable emails in a special folder in my inbox, but handwritten notes always add an extra personal and thoughtful touch. As Maya Angelou once said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Even though people may not save your letters, memorize what you wrote, or remember the act which you wrote about, people will always remember how special you made them feel just by the few words you took the time to write.

After my birthday a few days ago, I'm already thinking about the many cards I will be 
sending out to gracious family and friends. 
Here's my tips for constructing the perfect thank you note: 

It all starts with the stationery: I think a person's stationery says a lot about their personality. If you're a minimalist, go for sleek stationery with little decoration. If you're a colorful person, pick a card with loud designs. Cards with monograms also add a great personal detail. The words you write inside the note are personal, so why shouldn't the card? Be sure to pick stationery that is appropriate for the occasion, though. If you are sending stationery to a colleague or boss, choose a design that is appealing but not over the top. 

Think about before you write: Unlike emails and pencils, there are not backspace buttons or erasers to fix errors, so think wisely about what you're going to write before you pick up your pen (proper thank you notes should be written in pen). One thing to think about beforehand? How to address the letter writer. When in doubt, add Ms. or Mr. before a first name and sign it Best, Sincerely, or perhaps Kind Regards to name a few. It's better to be formal than offending. 

Be specific, but not too specific: Many of Jackie Kennedy's friends and acquaintances loved to receive her cards because she put a great deal of effort into making the letter personal. When thanking the recipient, be specific and explain what or why you are writing this letter whether it be for a gift or something they did for you. This truly shows thoughtfulness and gratitude; however, when it comes to money, it isn't necessary to write down the exact amount you received. 

Add a message without dragging on: Finish your thank you note with a few short sentences that add some conversation. If you received a gift, perhaps talk about your plans with it. Even simply ask how they are doing or recall a favorite memory that passed between you two. You want your recipient to know you genuinely value them and your relationship together, not just their hospitality, help, or gifts.

Be Timely: While a note is better late than never, send your thank you note out asap. This is not only polite, but assures the recipient you received or appreciate their time, present, or thought. Besides, it's another thing off the to-do list! 

Do you think the art of thank you notes is over?

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