To: Graduates, Brides, Grooms and Gift Recipients Everywhere
From: Your Friends at StyleBlueprint
RE: You’re Welcome
It has come to StyleBlueprint’s attention that some of the above-mentioned recipients of this memo don’t know why they are getting this memo, or why the regarding line is “You’re Welcome.” (Those of you who know where this is going probably already write handwritten thank you notes and are excused from reading further.)
For those, however, who cannot figure out why you should be thanking us, let us explain.
Maybe you’ve just graduated from high school, college or graduate school. Or maybe you’ve just married, or perhaps just celebrated a birthday. Before you cash that check, use that gift card or toast your marriage with those gorgeous Waterford Champagne flutes your second cousin sent you, we must ask if you’ve written your note of thanks to the gift giver. On pretty paper. With a pen.
No? Tsk, tsk.
Maybe you just don’t have the time. Or pretty paper and a pen. Or maybe you’re terrible at expressing yourself through writing. None of these excuses is an excuse, however, for not taking a few minutes to express your gratitude. And lest you think a text or an email to the gift giver covers the bases, it does not. Not by a long shot.
Why? BECAUSE. We moms love throwing around the B word, and really, this is one of those times where we truly don’t owe you an explanation. Just because. We’ll give you a few reasons anyway:
Because it’s just what one does in a civilized society.
Because someone took the time to think about you, about what might make you happy, about how they are proud of your accomplishments and about how much they care for you.
Because that someone is honoring you with a gift.
Because dashing off a quick email or text thank you isn’t the same as sitting down, composing your thoughts and taking the time to write them out by hand. In other words, you are showing not only gratitude, but also how much you reciprocate warm thoughts about the gift giver.
So now that we’ve cleared up the why portion of this memo, let’s move on to the how.
How soon should you write your thanks? It goes almost without saying, as soon as you possibly can. Judith Martin, best known as Miss Manners, says in her Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior — also known as the “other” Bible in this house — that you get 20 minutes, “before the first enthusiasm for the present subsides, or just after the first disappointment does.”
Miss Manners’ point is, of course, that there should be little delay in writing a note of thanks. For graduates, this is especially important, as everyone who sent you a gift knows darn well you’re either: A) finished with high school and have plenty of time on your hands now that you have no summer reading or other educational obligations before you head off to college; or B), departing college and are now truly an adult, so you simply have no excuse whatsoever not to put a thank you note at the top of your adult to-do list.
“The handwritten note is never out of style,” agrees Francie Marlow of RSVP Stationers. “You show your appreciation by taking the time and effort to promptly write a personal note.”
One important note on the whole timing thing: If, Miss Manners forbid, you’re late in writing and sending your note, there’s no need to say so in the note. The gift giver knows you’re late. You know you’re late. There’s nothing more to say.
While some etiquette experts extol the virtues of fine linen paper subtly monogrammed with your initials, the truth is the message is more important than the medium. Sure, folks love opening one of those gorgeously lined, engraved envelopes, but we look at the stationery wardrobe (yes, there is such a thing) like deciding on an outfit for church. In other words, it’s more important that you’re showing up/writing the note, than it is what you’re wearing/what paper you’re using.
What to say
It seems a bit contrarian to rant about writing a handwritten thank you note and then tell you not to say thanks. The unofficial rule is that you never open with “Thanks for the (fill in the blank).” Some etiquette mavens even say you should avoid cards printed with the word “thanks” or “thank you.”
Instead of outright thanking someone at the top, tell them how thoughtful they were, how you might use the gift or where their generous gift of money might be spent: “I’m saving for my first car, and your generous gift puts me so much closer to that goal!” Aim higher with your opening line, as shown below.
“Money” is another word to avoid if you can. Instead, tell someone their “generosity” or their “gift” means you can save for your car, or put it towards your schooling — i.e., “Your kindness means I am assured of having all the books I need for college this fall.”
You can then go on to thank Aunt Mary for attending your graduation or for her support throughout the years during college, and tell her that you look forward to seeing her very soon.
Don’t let your fear of writing stand in the way. Not all of us are gifted writers and may need some inspiration for what to say. If so, there are dozens of books available at the local retailers mentioned above to help you find just the right tone and inspiration!
Finally, we want to express our gratitude that you’ve read this article, and we hope you will use it to help prod your friends and family to engage in the art of the handwritten thank you note. Your attention to this matter will make the world a much more thoughtful place!
If you find yourself in the position of gift giver instead of recipient, then make sure you download the SB App and find the most stylish, locally owned businesses in town where you can pick up a heartfelt gift for your loved one. Click here to get started!