The ancient art of thank you notes (+free printable!)

Presents can have a lovely way of saying something to the recipient that can't always be put into words. Sometimes you get a thoughtful gift you love that says, "I appreciate you," or maybe a new book about the economy that says, "You should really figure out what's going on in the world" or maybe even new tennis shoes or a gym membership, to oh so kindly tell you to get off your butt.

In my case, my grandmother started a tradition of gifting me stationery. At an early age, she told me, "These are for all your thank you notes!" and I've had no excuse to not to send them ever since. 

Thank you note writing was big in my house. Big like, you're-going-to-bed-without-dinner-if-you-don't-write-them big. After Christmas and birthday parties, my brothers and I would dread coming down to the kitchen table to write and sign cards. For some reason, this was the "worst thing ever." I think the idea of writing thank you notes is so much more burdensome than the actuality of doing it, because guys, it's SO easy.


The habit has stuck with me through my whole life, and I'm so grateful for that. First, it's so important to acknowledge your gratitude for someone or something. (What goes around, goes around, goes around, comes all the way back around... - your daily dose of JT wisdom) If it's all you can do, send an email or make a phone call and express your thanks. 

Also, the amount of times that this simple gesture has stood out as a big one, simply because most people think it's outdated or not necessary, is unbelievable. I've had my boss pull me aside and say how much sending a thank you note meant to her, because not many people do it anymore.

Lastly, tell me one person with a working mailbox who doesn't like receiving genuine mail.


Thank you notes are so easy that there is only one rule you need to follow: mention the gift. 

You can't really get away with just saying "thank you" and leaving it at that. Take a minute to write about your gift and how happy it makes you, because whoever gave it to you put a lot of thought, time, resources and love into your present. You'd want to hear the same, right?

If your gift is cash, a check or a gift card, add a little note about what you hope to put it towards.


Your note doesn't need to be long - it's the thought that counts.

If the note is coming from a family or multiple people, have everyone John Hancock it up.

Send in a timely manner. There is separate etiquette around some events like weddings and showers, but aim to send a basic thank you within two weeks. After big holidays like birthdays or Christmas, I think it's okay to get it out within a month (and it's better late than never). But remember... the longer you wait, the less likely you are to get those babies in the mail.

Here are some appropriate times to send thank you notes:

  • for gifts
  • after being a house guest
  • when a friend does a favor (no favor is too small)
  • after a really nice dinner or event
  • for support, or maybe even forgiveness
  • after a competitive or final-round job interview (email is okay for first round)


The hardest part about thank you notes is keeping track of what you need to send and to whom you send it.  I want to give you a free thank you note planner printable, so you can keep track of all your notes this holiday season! 

Just click below and I'll send right to your inbox.

Let the gift giving (and thanking) begin!