Classic Courtesy: The Art of the Thank-You Note

Thank-you notes are vital to the gift-receiving process, not only to be polite but to show friends and family your genuine appreciation. However, a thank-you sent late or in an inappropriate format (read: emailing Grandma) can be worse than not sending one at all. Here, some tips for saying “thanks” with grace.

Rue Thank You Note Examples

The Golden Rule. According to Emily Post, send a handwritten thank-you note “any time you receive a gift… and the giver wasn’t there to thank in person.” It’s also polite to send a note thanking event hosts after a dinner party or other such occasion. The exception? Even if the giver was present at your wedding or shower (both bridal and baby), always mail your thank-yous.

To Write, Email, or Call? When the gift is from a close friend or relative, it’s okay to email or call – except in the two situations noted above, or when you know the recipient would prefer a handwritten acknowledgement. (And you can of course do both, notes social-grace expert extraordinaire Kelly Browne in her book, 101 Ways to Say Thank You).

Get-Well and Sympathy Gifts. If you are sick or grieving, feel free to ask a relative to write thank-you notes on your behalf. And yes – flowers deserve a thoughtful thank-you, too.

The Sooner the Better. Generally, write the note within a week of receiving the gift or attending the event. Showers get a brief extension – up to two weeks – and guests expect to receive a thank-you within two months after you say “I do.”

Design is up to you – just make it personal. Buy blank-on-the-inside cards, design custom stationery, or go DIY – either by hand or with a service like Shutterfly. Just show timely, heartfelt appreciation, and you’re sure to stay on everyone’s good side no matter the occasion.

By Jess Huckins, Staff Writer

How do you stay organized for writing timely thank-you notes? Share in the comments below, or tweet us at @ruelala.

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February 13, 2013