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Faking Adulthood | Thank You Notes

thank you notes

Thank you notes were a big deal in my family growing up. You wrote them to everyone, for everything. Someone took care of your parakeet while you were on vacation? Thank you note. Brother brought you soup when you were sick? Thank you note. Your friends threw you a surprise party? You guessed it– thank you notes for everyone!

Despite understanding why it is important to thank people for their small (or large) acts of kindness, I was horrible at writing them. I’m still not great at remembering to write them, but over the years I developed a system for composing them so that I stopped blankly staring at the paper once I got down to it. 

1. Buy note cards.

Or get your own stationery. It may sound lame, but just having a few of them on hand gets you off to a smooth start. That way, you at least know what you are going to write on. If you’ve got poor penmanship, don’t worry. Write slowly and legibly—it doesn’t have to be the prettiest thing on the planet, but it will feel much more personal if you write it by hand than if you type it.

2. Salutation

I only use “Dear so and so” if it’s someone older than me, is big on tradition, or deserves some serious respect, like a WWII pilot. (For the record, I’ve never written an thank-you to a WWII pilot.) Otherwise, just use the person’s name. It’s more friendly.

3. The dreaded recounting of gifts

How many times have you written an empty list of what the person did or gave you without ever mentioning what it meant to you? That’s the part they’re really interested in. The material things are nice, but they probably wouldn’t have done anything for you if they didn’t like you or want to make you happy somehow. So tell them how they did that.

Thank you so much for taking care of my cat while I was away last weekend. It meant so much to know she was looked after and getting her share of tummy scratches while I was gone.

Thanks for the gift from your trip! It was so kind of you to think of me while you were in Sweden. I’m really looking forward to using these mittens to stay warm this winter.

In the case of a check, it’s nice to say what you’ll be using some of the money for. This is where it’s important to know your audience. Some people would be thrilled with the idea that their money is helping you our with your utilities, but others want to think that even though they didn’t send you an item, that you’ll use the cash to buy something really neat and that you’ll think of them when you use it. Sometimes, fibbing is okay. Even if the money is actually going towards paying your bills or credit card debt, chances are you’re planning to purchase something else in the near future, and the money is all in the same account.

Thank you so much for the check, Grandma. I plan to use some of the money to buy a clock for my new apartment. There’s a spot it will fit perfectly and then, maybe I’ll be on time for once!

4. Closing

Your thank you note doesn’t need to be long. It’s a note. So say what you need to say, then wrap up with a “Thanks again,” “Love,” or “Sincerely.” Short, sweet, and done!

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