Saying "thank-you" is a simple yet effective way to honor someone who has gone above and beyond for you. Especially in our busy world, taking time to express appreciation to a friend is a gift in itself. We nurture our relationships when we give something back to those who do something special, who act kindly or who give of themselves or their time to us. Letters of appreciation to a friend can be handwritten on personal stationery or typed in business-letter format. In either case, letters of appreciation are often slid inside a thank-you card and can become a keepsake for the recipient.
Start the letter with "Dear" for the greeting.
Explain why you are expressing your thanks. For example, write "Dear Sally, I couldn't resist the chance to say how much I have appreciated your support over the past few months."
Be specific about the impact the person had on you. Write something to the effect of "I don't know how I would have managed mealtimes without you while I was sick."
Add details. For example, write "The many dinners you delivered to my door just in time to arrive hot on the table meant that I was relieved not only of the cooking and cleaning, but also of the meal planning, which, as you know, can be a strain."
Expand, but not too much. You want to keep the letter personal, so refer to things the recipient has done for you, to experiences you've shared or to qualities that make the recipient special to you. Write "Your kindness, and especially your generosity, are overwhelming."
Write from the heart. Often our head stops our true feelings from making from our heart to the page. Pay attention to what your heart is saying, and let the words spill onto the page.
Stay honest. Words can take on a life of their own, and you can be tempted to exaggerate your feelings or the impact of the person's kindness. Keep it real in order to sound sincere.
Stay focused on the reason for the appreciation letter. Don't let your words ramble. The letter will have a far deeper effect if you keep the reason for the letter front and center.
Check your spelling and grammar. Little things count.
Send your letter promptly; otherwise, it can look as if the letter wasn't a pleasure to write, but rather a task to procrastinate.
Address your letter specifically to the intended recipient. Don't write "Smith Family" on the envelope, if your letter is to Sally Smith.
- Never thank someone in advance; it can be considered presumptuous. Wait until the deed is done!
Jeanne Pengelly is a published author, print and broadcast journalist and communications specialist. She has more than 20 years of experience writing and editing for television, radio, print and online media, and has also served in public relations for a school board in Canada. Pengelly holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and a postgraduate certificate in creative writing.