The next installment in my How To Write series focuses on how to write a thank you card and the forgotten art of saying thanks. Writing a personalized thank you note is a quick and simple way to show appreciation for a kind gesture.
This story about writing a thank you note begins on a lacrosse field.
My son’s lacrosse team was in need of coaches this past spring. I offered to coach, even though I knew jack squat about the game besides the fact the equipment is expensive as hell and college lacrosse players somehow end up with jobs in finance.
I volunteered to help and left the first team meeting as the assistant head coach. What?!?! Another father, an actual lacrosse coach would do all of the heavy lifting and actual coaching, but I agreed to spearhead scheduling, emailing with the league and being keeping parents informed of the constant schedule changes.
Rounding out the coaching squad was another dad, who was also responsible for running the girl’s lacrosse program, and a grandfather of one of the players. Let’s call him E.
E coached high school lacrosse for ten years, and between his knowledge and listening to my assistant head coach during practice, I learned more about the sport in 3 months than I would have picked up reading Coaching Lacrosse For Dummies. It didn’t hurt that both guys broke the game down so that 8-year-olds could understand so even I was able to pick it up no sweat.
At the end of the season, the team gathered for a group photo, and E pulled me aside to thank me for volunteering and coordinating and handed me an envelope. Inside was an incredibly generous gift card to a local restaurant. He did the same for the other three coaches.
I was incredibly appreciative, and after staring at the envelope on my desk for a day, I realized my audible thank you just wasn’t enough.
Reasons To Write A Thank You Card
People tend to struggle with saying “thank you.” Especially in moments when the generosity of others floors us. We’re also human and tend to forget to say thanks.
Here are just a few incredibly good reasons to write a thank you card.
- Writing a thank you card is always a good idea. No one in the world has ever uttered the sentiment “I wish I didn’t write that thank you card.”
- Receiving a thank you card is never a bad thing. Again, I can’t imagine anyone ever saying “Oh I wish he didn’t send me that thank you card!”
- People always remember a personal, handwritten thank you card.
- Showing gratitude is good for your health.
- It keeps an open line of connection with friends and family.
- A thank you note could boost your chances of getting a job or a promotion.
- It keeps good feelings going, and everyone needs a daily dose of good vibes.
Finally, have you ever written a thank you card and sent it to a person for no specific reason? Try writing a thank you note to a parent, spouse, sibling or offspring, not for one particular reason, but to say thank you for being there and what they mean in your life. You’ll be incredibly happy with the outcome.
How To Write A Thank You Card
We’ve covered the reasons thank you cards are a good idea. Now here’s how to write a thank you note that people will remember.
First, buy blank thank you cards
To save time, people purchase thank you cards with heartfelt thanks printed inside. While this is still a considerate gesture, it’s not entirely personal. The people at Hallmark can’t speak for you and your gratitude.
Don’t let a greeting card company say thank you. A thank you card is an expression of appreciation that should come straight for the heart. Buy blank thank you cards and write a personal message inside. It will mean more to the person and make you feel even better about sending the card.
Put yourself in the flip-flops or Crocs of the person on the receiving end of the handwritten thank you note. Which would make you feel better, getting an email saying “hey, thanks!” or a personalized card shuffled inside the normal delivery of junk mail.
A handwritten note feels way better.
In my case, I don’t get much mail at all to my new home, so going to the lockbox and pulling out a personalized thank you card would feel amazing.
Next, be specific
The entire point of writing a thank you note is to say thank you for one particular gesture of kindness yet people tend to forget to mention the gesture. In the thank you note, explicitly mention the gift or gesture.
Example 1: “Thank you so much for taking the time to interview for the position.”
Example 2: “The new coffeemaker is perfect. Thank you so much for the thoughtful and useful gift.”
Finally, end with good wishes and plans
Finally, to complete the thank you note, wish the person well on something specific happening in their life (“have a great summer” or “good luck with the new puppy”) and make plans to get together again in the future.
Ex: “Have a fantastic time on your family vacation and let’s get together again before the school year starts:
More Thank You Card Writing Suggestions
Be original: I stumbled across the postcard above (the one with the bears) at a flea market. It’s blank on the opposite side and comes from Tenants Harbor, Maine. I found it hilarious and paid the $.50 to use it as a thank you card at some point in the future.
Thank you cards don’t need to be cookie cutter or boring. They don’t even have to be actual thank you cards.
Write a rough draft of the thank you message: Ernest Hemingway once said: “the first draft of everything is shit.” Unless you’re a skilled writer with the ability to conjure up with the perfect sentiment, write a rough draft.
Writing a rough draft will decrease the possibility of mistakes on your thank you card. Nothing is more frustrating than making a mistake and having to rip up a card. Write it all down first. Get the message just the way you want it to read. Copy it over on the thank you card.
Buy a good pen: Test your pen before you start writing the note. Murphy’s Law says the pen will run out of ink the minute you put the tip to the cardboard. Here’s a quick list of the top pens for writing. I use and recommend the Pigma Micron line of pens. They write clean, come in a variety of point thicknesses and last the longest.
How To Remember To Write A Thank You Card
Here are some tips if you’re not the best at remembering to buy and send thank you cards.
- Buy thank you cards in bulk: If you find a blank thank you card that you like, buy at least ten. Leave the cards in a spot where you’ll remember you have a supply. Don’t toss them into a drawer to get buried by other papers and work you’re avoiding.
- Buy thank you cards before an event: If you’re going on a job interview, hosting a dinner party or celebrating a birthday, buy a stack of thank you cards while you’re out buying other stuff for the occasion.
- Write out a thank you immediately: Finally, The easiest way to remember to do anything is the moment the idea hits your brain. If you can’t sit right down and write out a thank you card, set some type of reminder for yourself.
A few weeks after sending the thank you card to E, I ran into his family. His wife thanked me for the beautiful card and commented: “people just don’t send thank you cards anymore.”
No, they don’t, but I’m hoping that changes after reading this article.
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