The Art of the Modern Thank You


We can all agree that we’re not out buying other children birthday gifts, delivering meals to the grieving, and helping out our friends in need just for the thank you notes. But thanking someone for a kind gesture or gift allows you to express your gratitude directly to that person, which is important. I know, I know, in a perfect world you would have the time, energy and wherewithal to timely execute thank you notes for every deserving occasion, but [insert excuse here].

Better Late than Never

First, hear me on this: A late note is better than none at all. You’ve just had a baby, lost a close family member, in the middle of a move…these are all excellent reasons why you couldn’t get out a thank you note immediately. But, a simple note thanking your neighbor for that casserole she dropped off or your coworkers for the lovely flowers they sent to the funeral would be well-received even months later.

It’s also way easier to remember to send out thank you’s if you have them readily available. I keep a stash of fairly generic thank you notes in my kitchen with pens, stamps, and those free pre-printed return address labels that sometimes show up in your junk mail. Extra cards, stamps, and more are just a few clicks away thanks to online shopping, so you are only at most two days away from being able to replenish your supply.

Personalize It

Writing a simple, sincere thank-you note does take a few minutes, but it’s not rocket science. Instead of the rote: “Dear So-and-So, Thank you for the [insert gift here]. It was very generous of you. Sincerely, Me”; try to include something personal or an added level of detail that shows you’re putting some effort in. “Amy – I laugh every time I pour myself a cup of coffee in that mug. Thank you for giving me a reason to laugh in the mornings!”

But, don’t make this too hard on yourself. In my book, forgoing the hard-copy thank you in lieu of a text/email/or an actual phone call **gasp** is perfectly acceptable for smaller gestures or when you don’t have a way to track down someone’s physical address. Example: you reconnect with an old friend over coffee and afterwards you text her: “Thanks so much for treating me to coffee today, I really needed the caffeine and the conversation! I’ll treat next time!” But, don’t think you can get away with texting great aunt Sarah after your wedding. “Thanks for the table-setting, looks great in our new place!” is not gonna cut it.

Thank You’s on our Children’s Behalf

And now we come to the age-old debate: do you (or your kids) have to send a thank you in response to a gift that you opened in front of–and this part is important–and already thanked the giver in person for? Sometimes I vote yes, other times no. I think it’s a great lesson to teach your kids when you have them write their own thank you’s after a birthday party, but honestly, no one is going to think twice about not receiving a thank you in the mail for that $10 Hatchimal they showed up to Monkey Joes with.

We all mess up and forget to send a thank you sometimes, but let’s all resolve to do a better job of showing gratitude and teaching our kids to do the same. The world will thank us for it, ha!


  1. So true, Amy. You are wise beyond your years. Course, you have an awesome Mom. I am sure she has helped you along the way. Thanks for all you blogs! Special, like you!

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