Everyone knows that it is polite to write thank you notes. This is a no-brainer. If you receive a gift for your wedding, or a meal when you have a baby, or flowers from a friend when you’ve received a promotion… the response should be a hand written thank you note.
First things first: what kind of card or paper should you use? The good news is that there is no real “proper” etiquette on this. Choose stationery that you think expresses your personality and flavor. Engraved, embossed, letterpressed, flat printed, folded, flat, patterned or simple and classic—anything goes. At this stage of life, when my pre-schoolers receive presents I usually have them decorate paper with crayons, markers and stickers, then I write the note of thanks over their drawings. My point? Even 3-year olds should show some kind of personality in their gratitude. Just choose notes or personal stationery that you love. (Difference between notes and personal stationery being that personal stationery is customized with your name printed on the card in some way and a note is simply a store-bought pattern or design—not personalized).
So what to write? Let’s start off with what not to do! I have seen a disturbing trend of pre-printed thank you notes… and it makes me cringe. The most important part of a thank you note is the personal nature. When “form letter” is pre-printed as the content of the note it has lost all personality and meaning. Each of those wedding guests chose a different gift for you, so make sure you thank them specifically in the note, not just “Thank you for the gift that you have us. It was meaningful that you were so thoughtful.” That sounds bland and dry. Instead, try something more intentional:
Dear Aunt Colleen,
It was such a joy and delight to celebrate my wedding with you there. Thank you for traveling up from Atlanta to participate with us. You should know that the picture frame that you gave us already has a favorite wedding photo in it and is sitting on our mantle. I think of you every time I look up there! Thank you again for your thoughtfulness and support. Mike and I are looking forward to our visit soon.
Emily and Mike
So there you go… just a few sentences that are specific and feel heartfelt. Also, notice that the woman signs her name first. This is a whole new Etiquette Savvy post for another time. Just trust me for now.