Thursday, February 3, 2011

How to Write a Thank You Note (Giveaway)

8 Thank you Cards

So, a fairly big blogging occasion came and went last week without any fanfare.

I wrote my 500th post!

I wasn't really keeping track, but I guess I should have been.

So here we go with post #508 for your reading pleasure.

Let me start off by saying that I've come down with some flu-like symptoms.  Actually, it feels like my brain is rattling around in my skull every time I turn my head.  Needless to say I'm going to keep this brief.

Since you've made your list, started gathering your mailing addresses, and are beginning to send off your first letters, I'm going to skip ahead a bit to share with you some key points to keep in mind when you sit down to write a thank you note.

Have you ever started out to write a thank you note, and, as soon as you lay a fresh piece of stationery in front of you, your mind goes completely blank too?  Ironic, isn't it?  You have so much you'd like to say, but the same old boring lines seem to be the only thing that pop into your head.  This has happened to me many times.

Luckily, I stumbled on some good advice in Martha Stewart Living a few months ago, and I saved the article and kept it in my address book for future reference.  I think these key points will help anyone who wants to overcome writer's block and allow their true feelings to spill out on the page in a way that will convey their thankfulness to the recipient.  This advice comes from Margaret Shepherd, author of the book "The Art of The Personal Letter."  Here's what she says:

Rule #1  Avoid starting with "Thank You".

I am guilty of this, big time!  But every time I start with "Thank You" it feels like I've gotten to the punchline prematurely! :)  Ms. Shepherd also suggests that this shows a lack of imagination.  (Booo....)  So let's not let Ms. Shepherd (or your recipient) think for a moment that you lack imagination!  Instead, before you sit down to write, get creative about how you'll begin.  

Rule #2  Instead, begin with "You".

Shepherd suggests that it's best to start with "You".  That way, you're making the letter about the recipient instead of about yourself.  

Rule #3  Acknowledge the relationship that you have with the recipient.

I like to recall special memories that I have of that person or moments that we've shared.

Rule #4  Use conversational language.

Of course, this will depend on the degree of formality of your relationship.  Remember you can be fairly formal and still show a lot of personality in your writing.  A thank you note, by definition is personal, so be yourself.

Rule #5  Be specific about what you are thanking them for.

For instance, if you are thanking a teacher for helping you to develop a specific skill or character trait, give them examples of how you've used that in your professional or personal life.  If you are thanking them for thinking of you or serving you in some way, let them know how their service made you feel.  Be descriptive, specific, and focus your compliments on them.

Rule #6  Offer up compliments that you have received from others about the gift they've given you or share examples of the positive ways you've been affected by their kindness.

People like to hear great anecdotes.  These will be the parts of your letter that people will most likely remember, cherish, and re-read long after the note is originally received.

Rule #7  Begin and end on a positive note.

This is a no-brainer.  Be positive.  Be delightful and delighted, and express the joy that their influence on you has brought to your life.  I like to share a quick quip or repeat something that the recipient of my letter is known for saying, or that remind them of an "inside joke" that we share.

I hesitate to share links to sites that share stock phrases for opening and closing a letter, because so many of them seem so cliche!  You are original (and imaginative), and I know that what you come up with will be superior, because it will truly come from the heart.

But don't you worry, I will be returning to this topic in a future post.  Now for today's giveaway.

Today, you have the chance to win a set of 8 note cards with original artwork by

8 Thank you Cards

Her prints are so unique and personal.  Don't you just love that little boy diving into a pile of leaves???  Such joy!  Such talent!  Her shop is full of some real treasures.

In order to be entered to win this lovely set of 8 note cards, do any of the following:

1.  COMMENT on this post.

2.  Tell me your favorite SALUTATION for a thank you note.
(How do YOU like to sign-off???)

3.  Check out JBR Illustration.

4.  Send one letter/note today.

5.  Keep up with your 5 Page-a-Day reading schedule...even if you're behind!
Try to read through 2 Ne. 25 today or just get as far as you can.

Good luck!

I will announce the winner on Saturday.


The winner of the dbPhoto note cards box set is:

Flower Box Set (6) Cards

Cherry!  Comment 20, who said:

"Starting my list right now, will copy your "Once a upon a time" idea...thanks, good job on that."
Congratulations, Cherry!  Email me to claim your prize!


  1. I LOVE HER ARTWORK! Yes I am kind of overenthusiastic. Thanks for sharing all of these great Etsy shops. Now off to write a card.

  2. I LOVE notecards and always write a Thank you note!

  3. I usually sign off with Love. How original, I know-

  4. I love her artwork! Biddle street card is my favorite

  5. We're working on sending out some valentines to the Grandparents!

  6. Those cards are beautiful! I love the fairy princess bowing to the frog! This post is a great reminder for us to take the time to keep things personal & meaningful! Much better than posting "Thanks for those hand-me-downs!" on your friend's Facebook wall. Not that I would ever, ahem, do such a thing. ;)

  7. well I love her artwork so whimsical, I'm commenting, sent a card yesterday, am working on my list, my favorite saluation "hi my dear friend" and I'm on 2 Ne 22 but will be at 25 soon, and will send another card today to a friend who gave me some notecards for Christmas-how appropriate. Thanks for the gentle push and great ideas.

  8. I love to sign off with silly or whimsical salutations, but only if I know the person really well. It's quite ridiculous really. heehee. Example:

    Lots of love and lollipops,


    Loads of laughter and linguini,


    Sweet sticky snowman kisses,


  9. I usually end my letters with "love you!" Original, I know!

  10. Great post! Thanks for sharing these tips, sometimes that blank page can be so intimidating. I usually just write from the heart, but having structure always improves writing.

  11. I have bookmarked her site. LOVE her work!


    PS. I do a different opening and closing each time I write a note. Just depends on the person I'm writing and my mood. I like to change things up a bit.

  12. I will definitely have to try these tips. I got my first 2 cards of the month prepared and as I read them to my husband he said they sounded like I was contacting people because I had a terminal illness or something! Hmmm, gonna have to work on my approach, I guess :)

  13. Your post was a wonderful review of thank you card etiquette! Thank you!

  14. I am boring with my salutations. It is usually love or thanks again.

  15. I checked out the easy shop, I love the illustrations, just beautiful.

  16. Great suggestions! I guess I lack imagination because I very often start with thank you... I'll work on it...

  17. Favorite salutation... Again, I'm pretty bland... Usually a sincerely, or cheers, best, yours... Obviously I need some suggestions here. :)

  18. I am completely crushing on everything in the shop. Everything is just too cute -- I MUST have The Reader print for my son's room.

  19. I am ashamed to admit that I am SO far behind on the reading. My husband is all caught up, but I'm significantly NOT. I'll keep plugging along as best I can... Maybe if I could just get the 5 pages a day delivered to my reader with all my blogs... ;)

  20. Salutation: Mostly I use--SINCERELY

  21. Checked out her artwork--the faces of her charaters are priceless.

  22. Mailed a card to MIL this morning.

  23. I have recently gotten back into the habit of mailing thank you notes. It is a wonderful feeling, expressing honest gratitude! And these cards are beautiful.

  24. My favorite salutation is XO

  25. First of all, Yay! Yay! Yay! I'm so happy! I think my happiness came from knowing i am involved in doing something good to others...and of course those cards will always remind me of that!

    I love, love this post!!This is a good family home evening lesson and activity! Thanks for sharing once again.

  26. My favorite salutation in any kind of letter i write is Sincerely because I want the recipient to truly know that those words came from my heart!

  27. I did check JBR Illustrations, besides being unique, i was impressed on how good she is in using water color in her artwork/prints...

  28. Mailed 2 letters to 2 missionaries today! Yay

  29. And I love, love that 5 page-a-day reading the Book of Mormon. You'll know why i am so grateful!

  30. What a fun guide to keep on hand when the kids are writing thank you cards. I usually sign mine "Take care," or "sincerely"...both kind of boring.

  31. there are no better words coming out of a person's mouth than the sweet voice of someone saying "THANK YOU or I love you".

    So I wish to say Thank You Jocelyn for keeping our little light beaming with a testimony that burns within our hearts by posting great spiritual post that are uplifting and amazingly touching. Hugs my friend.

  32. I am not entering or anything, I just had to comment.

    I have been following along, sadly I could not fit one more thing on my overflowing plate this month. (something I am practicing lately) BUT, I have really enjoyed your tips. AND finding new places to shop at.

    Thank you for the links. This artist in particular is AMAZING!

    Good luck on your letter/note writing. I am loving your posts, and hopefully can fit this project in later in the year, because it is a wonderful idea.

    Thanks for being an inspiration Jocelyn.

    (BTW, I have not forgotten your book prize you won...I found it patiently waiting in my van to mail it, it has been sent and is on it's way. Sorry I forgot to put it in the box! It's coming........ :D)

  33. Those cards are super cute!

    I'm a "Lots of love," kind of person.

  34. Oh, what beautiful artwork. I love it. I also love the idea of a totally personal thank you note. It is so much better that way.

  35. i would love to send (& get) one of these thank you cards, so cute!

    my personal favorite, to people I love and know well is. "love your stinkin' guts!"

  36. Before even knowing that your blog existed I decided to send thank yous or as I call them, "Love notes" to my dear ones every day this month! Then today I read your q&a on Diapers & Divinity, came to check out your blog and loved the tips your shared. You seem like such a neat mother and woman. Thank you for your thoughts and ideas!

  37. Oh my gosh, did I miss this??!?!?! What beautiful cards! Beautiful illustrations! Love them! They are so inspiring!
    And thank you so much for the pointers on writing thank you notes!!! Wow, there is always so much to learn!!!

  38. Thanks for the tips on thank you cards. I am awful at writing them and keep vowing to do better! I usually use love or warmest regards to sign off.