[how to] Write a Thank You Note

I have to admit, writing thank you notes is not something I have always managed to stay on top of. In an effort to have more of an "attitude of gratitude", I stocked up on pretty note cards from the $1 section at Michaels and re-learned how to show my appreciation for even the simplest acts. 

When to Write
Handwritten, personalized thank you notes are necessary when you have been given a gift and the giver was not present for you to thank in person. Thank you notes that should always be sent, regardless of the "presence" rule, include shower gifts, wedding gifts (as soon as possible, but within at least three months of receiving the gift), congratulatory gifts or cards (like for housewarming or graduations), gifts received when sick (as soon as you are feeling better), and condolence notes or gifts, which should be written by a close friend or family member on behalf of the recipient. It is nice, but not mandatory to send a thank you note when a host has treated you to a party, after a job interview, or when someone has done you a kind favor. [source] [source]
How to Write
Use blank note cards or a postcard. Short and sweet messages will look way too small floating on a full size sheet of paper. Email and text message thank you's are only appropriate for very close friends.
Handwrite it. Never type thank you notes, as it is impersonal. Use blue or black ink and your very best handwriting. Use cursive if yours is legible, but regular print is fine, as long as you take your time and write a personal message.
Better late than never. Although it is best to send thank you notes promptly, within a week or two, it is better to send it late than not at all. If your note is a month or more late, don't make excuses, and don't be embarrassed, but write something especially thoughtful.
What to Write
Greet the giver. Use their names and address them the way you would if you were speaking in real life.
Start with a personal message. Begin with how nice it was to see or hear from your gift giver and mention your relationship.
Express gratitude. That's what we are here for, right? Say thank you and mention exactly what the gift was, unless it was a cash gift. Be heartfelt and sincere with your thanks.
Mention how you will use the gift. If the gift was a tangible object, mention how you will use it or how the gift will affect your life (Like how you can't wait to wear the sweater when the weather gets colder, or how the beautiful flowers looked great in a vase on your dining room table.) If the gift was a monetary object, mention what you will be spending it on (Like saving to help with college expenses or putting it towards a honeymoon vacation). Be sure that the giver would approve of what you plan to spend their monetary gift on, or word it strategically (a wild girls weekend in Vegas might be written as 'a much-needed vacation'). If you are thanking a host for a party or occasion, mention how much fun you had (Don't forget how beautiful the decor was or how much you enjoyed the food).
Thank again, and again. Say 'thank you' multiple times throughout your note and allude to how meaningful the gift is to you.
Sign off. Depending on your relationship to the giver, end your note however you feel is appropriate. Only use "Love" for family members or very close friends. "Kindest regards" or "All the best" sound less formal than "Sincerely" and friendlier than "Regards".
Never
Exaggerate. Be thankful, but don't lie about how much you liked a gift. If you are lying about a gift you didn't like, they will see right through your note. It is always kind to appreciate the gesture, even if the gift was not to your liking.
Reference specific amounts of money. Any gifts of money should be referred to as "your generosity" or "your kindness".
Ramble. Keep your note to the point, while getting your thanks across. Don't include anything in your note that is unrelated to the gift or occasion.
Be too formal. A handwritten note should feel personal. Even if you do not know your gift giver very well, it is better to be friendly and warm. Show your personality and write your note the same way you would speak to the person face-to-face.
Assume. While you may think that an in-person "Thank You" is enough, it never hurts to show appreciation with a personal, handwritten, and thoughtful note. Never be afraid to show gratitude for trivial things. Not only will you brighten someone's day by recognizing their favor, but it might get you that invite or extra help again next time.

Thank you notes are such a simple and easy way to show gratitude and recognition for the kindness of others. When you were younger, did your mom sit you down with your Lisa Frank stationary, like mine did, and force you to write thank you notes? Has the tradition carried on until today? What other manners have you forgotten or tried to improve upon as you've grown up?
Leave a comment and let me know!