How to Write Thoughtful Thank-you Messages

by Rebecca Mecomber

The party is over or that scholarship money is in your hand. No matter the gift or the occasion, a thank-you message is always appropriate and appreciated. To create the loveliest of all thank-you messages, stick to the structure of the basic thank-you note, but include a few special touches to make your message memorable.

The Basic Structure

All thank-you messages can be whittled down to a basic outline: greeting, gratitude, body, grace, regards. For most thank-you messages, the greeting, gratitude, grace and regards are the same no matter the topic or recipient. The greeting introduces yourself to the sender and the gratitude expresses your thankfulness for the gift or service. The body, however, depends largely on the formality of the relationship and the gift itself. A thank-you note to your mother for the new shoes will be less formal than a message to your employer or recruiter for the job interview. The grace closes the body of the message with another expression of thanks and the final regards ends the message with your signature.

The Body of the Note

The body and style of thank-you messages varies depending on the topic, the gift and the relationship to the recipient. In general, always include the reason for the note and the occasion for the gift. For example, if you have received scholarship money to further your education, write a brief line informing the donor of your plans for the funds. If your grandmother has knitted you a scarf for your birthday, mention the softness of Alpaca wool and how the scarf will keep you warm in your windy city this winter. Avoid long and florid details, however. The perfect thank-you message blends elegance with brevity. In a more formal relationship, avoid notes with smiley faces and scrawled hearts. In a more informal relationship, include personal but succinct sentiments. Finally, include a personal note that alludes to a hopeful future, such as when you might see the recipient again or what a future event might hold.

The Message Medium

In this age of instant messaging, emails and social networking, the paper medium still rules for thank-you notes. Skip the electronic cards and Internet social status updates and select a high-quality paper or note card with envelope. Art and craft stores sell thick, textured papers that look beautiful and hold ink well. Your careful selection will reflect the time spent on the message and your true gratitude. The most thoughtful thank-you messages are handwritten, although typed notes are acceptable for more formal relationships. Practice your message on a scrap piece of paper before transferring it to the expensive thank-you paper.

Other Tips

Handmade cards or notes embellished with elegant decals reveal your attention to detail and express your thankfulness. In some cases, a hand-decorated message can speak more strongly where words may fail you. Sign your thank-you note with your name known by the recipient. For example, your childhood nickname for your brother's message is fine, but it would be inappropriate for your lawyer or your boss. Use proper grammar and spell your words correctly. Include your mailing address on the envelope so the recipient knows who is sending the message.

Photo Credits

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About the Author

Rebecca Mecomber, a former radio broadcaster, has been a professional blogger and writer since 2006. Her articles and interviews have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," Salon.com and several other publications, covering topics such as Federal Trade Commission policy and media regulations, blogging, home improvement and New York travel.