6 Tips To Composing Heartfelt Thank You Notes

People like being appreciated. Every gift deserves a thank-you, whether it is a material object, a referral, or to express your appreciation for someone’s friendship, acceptance or support.

Although occasionally a thank you email will do, a handwritten note expresses a completely different level of appreciation. It takes added effort and planning (but not much) to actually pen and mail a thank you card, letter or postcard. Even if your handwriting is poor, still hand-write your notes. Do not type them or use a word processor.

Writing thank-you notes is easier than you remember them being as a kid (when your mom had you write thank you cards for every birthday gift received). 

The 6 Points for a Perfect Thank You

1. Greet the Giver

Dear Aunt Maye,

Although it’s the easy part, you’d be surprised how many people forget it.

2. Express Your Gratitude

Thank you so much for the delicious homemade berry pie you brought to dinner the other night. 

  • Avoid beginning with, “I’m writing to thank you…” That’s stating the obvious
  • When thanking someone for money, use phrases like, “Thank you for your generosity,” or “Your kindness is greatly appreciated.
  • When writing to thank someone for an intangible (such as allowing you to stay with them for a weekend), define what the intangible thing is:  ‘Thank you for your hospitality last weekend.”
  • Don’t worry if it sounds too simple; the point is to create a simple expression of a heartfelt sentiment.

3. Discuss Use

We love homemade pie and were thrilled to have yours for dessert. It was especially good a la mode.

  • Say something nice about the item and how you will use it.
  • Don’t lie, even though some etiquette books may tell you it’s okay. After all, there’s always a truth that can be extracted. Let’s say you didn’t enjoy the pie. Find the one thing about the pie that is truthful and discuss it—but don’t get carried away. “It’s not often we get to enjoy a pie that came straight from the oven.
  • If the gift given was money, allude to how you will use it without going into great detail. ‘It will be a great help when we purchase our new (insert item here)’.
  • Be creative and even have fun, but don’t get too mushy.

4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future

It was great to see you at our impromptu family dinner, and we hope you will join us during the holidays.

  • Why did they give you the gift?
  • What does it mean to your relationship with the giver?
  • Let the giver know how they fit into the fabric of your life. 
  • If it’s someone you see infrequently, say whatever you know: ‘I hear you’re doing well and playing lots of bridge.” If it’s someone you’re in regular contact with, say something like, ‘I’m sure we will talk soon, but I wanted to take time to say thanks.” If it’s someone you have little or no contact with, say, “You are in my thoughts and I hope you are well.

5. Grace

Thank you again for your gift.

It’s not overkill to express your appreciation again.


6. Regards

Love, Yours Truly, With Love, Hugs, Warmly.

  • Wrap it up simply. Use whatever phrase works for you.
  • Sign your name.

What’s Not Included

  • Any news about your life. A thank-you is exclusively about thanking somebody for their kindness.

Mail It

  • Address and stamp the envelope and place it in the mail.

Even if your friends and relatives aren’t of the note-writing variety, be the one who re-initiates this practice. Writing thank you notes has fallen by the wayside with the advent of emails and text messaging.  Do your part to revive this wonderful way of expressing gratitude.

Saying thank you is more than good manners.  It is good spirituality.  ~Alfred Painter

Comment and Share

  • Do you still write thank you notes?
  • When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? Who was it from and what was it for?


Giving Thanks Bookmark

“Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot.” $2.50 each

A perfect addition to send in your thank you notes, this sturdy metal bookmark is accented with a colorful ribbon and inscribed with, “Give thanks for a little and you will find a lot”. Available in the Gratitude Habitat Gift Shop.


Excerpts credited to The Morning News, "How to write a thank you" by Leslie Harpold, October 1, 2003