Is the thank-you note still relevant today?

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By Cindy Edwards

Yes, absolutely. In our fast-paced world, it is more important than ever to slow down and be grateful. 

I remember as a young girl receiving a beautiful powder blue envelope addressed just to me. I opened it to retrieve a matching note card that bore the monogram of one of my best friend’s mother. I had taken her a small gift while she was recovering from surgery. It was such a small token, but the note that she wrote made me feel like it was the best gift in the world. It was sweetly written and made me feel so grown up. I have never forgotten that feeling, and I hope that every time I write a note it makes someone else feel just that wonderful.

There is something special about the hand-written note.Whether conveying your appreciation for a wedding gift, a dinner invitation or a thoughtful gesture, the thank-you note will always be an important part of a civilized society.  Emails and phone calls are certainly acceptable ways of expressing your gratitude, but I believe the hand-written note is the best. 

Some people dread note-writing and put it off until the task is so daunting that they simply cannot catch up. Here are a few tips that make note-writing easy and fun:

Purchase beautiful stationery, note cards or paper. This is a fabulous way to express yourself. The choices are limitless in price and style. Try to avoid preprinted “thank you” cards.

Examples of Stationery

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Half sheet/letter sheet
This is my personal favorite. Many people consider this the most formal form of stationery. They are traditionally ecru and sometimes white. They have a fold along the left-hand side and must be folded again in order to fit into the smaller envelope. I use the half sheet for almost everything from replying to invitations to sympathy notes.

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Informal/folded notes
Usually personalized with a woman’s married name, these are small note cards in various colors that fold over and fit into small envelopes. Informals are actually not “informal” for today and are perfect for thank yous, sympathy and replying to invitations.


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Correspondence cards
These are more informal than the above mentioned. They are flat cards perfect for thank yous and correspondence of any nature. Correspondence cards are very appropriate for men to use in almost all situations that require stationery.


Try to write notes in a timely manner, preferably within a week of the event or receipt of the gift. Keeping note cards in a convenient place with your address book, good pen and stamps will make it easier. Whether it is beside your bed or at your desk by your computer, keeping supplies handy will make them accessible and remind you of what you need to do. Even if you do not get to it right away it is never too late to thank someone for a kind gesture. 

Five easy steps to the perfect note:

Step 1: Greeting
Dear Mary

Step 2: State what you are grateful for
Thank you for the lovely flowers that you sent for my birthday.

Step 3: Write two or three sentences of why it was special
You know how I adore roses.  They were so beautiful and made my house smell divine.

Step 4: Repeat your thanks
Thanks again for remembering me in such a lovely way.

Step 5: Closing
Fondly,
Cindy

When you should send a note:

Following the receipt of a gift

To express sympathy

Following a dinner party or overnight stay

To express congratulations

Any time someone does something nice for you. 


Take time to express your thanks. It will not only make someone else feel good, it will enrich you.

Cindy Edwards embodies everything pretty, perky and proper about the South. She's a wife, mother, volunteer and freelance writer. Cindy volunteers enough hours to exhaust most by serving on the Board of Trustees for the Telfair Museums, the Savannah Book Festival Board of Directors and the University of Georgia Honors Advisory Board. She has also served on the Boards of the March of Dimes and Young Life Savannah. Cindy has been married to her college sweetheart, Dr. Joe Edwards III, for 25 years and is the proud mother of two sons: Joe IV, a senior at the University of Georgia, and Jack, a freshman at Ole Miss. No matter how busy, Cindy always makes time for a competitive game of bridge.
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Reader Comments:

54321

Cindy -- All I have to say is that I love your style! smile

By Al Parker on May 03, 2012

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I was starting to wonder if thank you notes were out of style. I was so happy to know this isn't the case. I have even encouraged my 11 year old grandson to so so and sent him little cards and stamps to thank those who thought of him. It upsets me when I go out of my way to find that perfect gift and never receive a response. So guess what? I've stopped sending to these people. Also I don't feel that emails are appropriate either. I enjoy receiving a thankyou note and I'm sure others feel the same. Thanks for your blog.

By Robin Blue on November 26, 2011

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I love thank you notes,now that I have my son & we live in Finland and family is in the states,I always send a note thanking for anything anyone gets him,I try to keep it informal by usually sending a card printed on from the computer with his picture on it,it's a great way to say thank you and also send a little keepsake in return! Ps Love your blog!

By Christina Jaakkola on August 04, 2011

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@ Meredith. Thank you for reading and for your question. I have never heard that you should not start a note with "thank you." Perhaps that is an old rule from a different area. I looked in several books and have not seen it mentioned. If I come across it I will let you know. Thanks again, Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on June 27, 2011

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@ Deanna. Thank you so much for reading and for your question. Fashion today is changing all the time and can certainly be dictated by region. For example, a fabulous short cocktail dress would easily work in Dallas, New York or Los Angeles; however, I doubt that you would see (or feel comfortable) in a short dress at a white tie ball in Savannah. I hope to be addressing this in more detail in the future. Thanks again for your post!! Cindy

By Cindy Edwards on June 27, 2011

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My high school senior is writng tons of thank you notes right now for graduation gifts. I hope she will continue to do this through out life and teach her children to do the same. I printed your article and it really helped. Thank you for great advice and making it simple! Just in time!!! Best wishes from Albany, GA!! Love your blog! Linda Cauley

By Linda Cauley on June 21, 2011

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Cindy, Thank you for the wonderful blog that I have enjoyed reading. I wish it came out daily because I am learning new things everyday that I thought I already knew. I've been saving the blogs, I foresee a Southern Cindy etiquette book. A question for you that Stefanie and I have been discussing."What is the proper attire to wear to a ball?" Stefy believes with Fashion today a short dress is appropreiate. After attending several parties in Dallas, she said more and more women are going short. What are your thoughts? Thank you for helping the Dasher women. Fondly, Deanna

By Deanna Dasher on June 19, 2011

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Cindy, I wish to extend my thanks to you for outlining the fundamentals of a dying practice. My grandmother taught me the art of writing thank you notes. I have struggled to instill in my son and stepson the importance of thanking others. It seems "these kids today" expect so much; they don't realize that others make sacrifices to spend time or money on them. The care evidenced by a gesture or gift requires a response, in my opinion. The acts of purchasing lovely stationery, composing the note, tracking down an elusive stamp, and mailing the thank you note cause reflection upon the kindness of the giver. I am confident that your sons write beautiful thank you notes and open doors for young ladies, too. Regards, Sheri Lilley

By Sheri Salter Lilley on June 10, 2011

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I've always been told never to start a thank you note with the words "thank you". Do you consider this point still valid?

By Meredith on June 09, 2011

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How wonderful of you to share your good taste and manners with the online world. We can all learn something from you. Thank you for being you! Off to write so well deserved thank you notes...

By kristin boylston on June 07, 2011

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So true! Writing notes is becoming a lost art. Thank you for the much-needed tutorial. My great-grandmother lived to 103; penned notes until she was 100. Every time I find one in a box of jewelry, cookbook or tucked away in a drawer, I can almost hear her voice.

By Anna on June 07, 2011

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So true! Writing notes is becoming a lost art. Thank you for the much-needed tutorial. My great-grandmother lived to 103; penned notes until she was 100. Every time I find one in a box of jewelry, cookbook or tucked away in a drawer, I can almost hear her voice.

By Anna on June 07, 2011

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Thanks so much for addressing this subject. A handwritten note is a step above these days and very important. This let's the other person know you really care unlike just sending a quick email or text. Please, please, please let's all work hard to continue this fabulous tradition. Teach your children to do this and hopefully this tradition will carry on in this fast-paced world. Everyone loves the extra touch that says "you are special"!!

By Beverly on June 07, 2011

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Hi Cindy, Love your blog! Please continue to help all of us southern (and others too) born women who have lost our way remember our roots and etiquette. Keep up the inspirational tips and advice! You rock!!!

By Ashley Ocampo on June 07, 2011

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Cindy, your blog is so comforting! It's gratifying to know that others consider the fine art of note-writing worthwhile. Both of my daughters were taught to send thank-you notes, as was their mother. They often comment that few people ever send them notes, except for the usual wedding and graduation notes. I really think people are appreciative of gifts, etc. but they were not taught to respond with a simple note. Thank you for bringing this before the public in your blog.

By Mary on June 03, 2011

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This blog inspired me to write some over due thank-you notes. I'm going to purchase some of those beautiful thank-you notes as well. Can't wait for your next blog. Melissa

By Anonymous on May 30, 2011

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Recently, as I was helping my Mom clean out the home of my "Grandy". I was thrilled to find large envelopes, with her hand writting on the outside, "Notes from my beloved children" or simply, "from those I loved". She had saved many thank you notes and cards over the years, each with special meaning. I was especially thankful to find several from myself....

By gagirl on May 30, 2011

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Cindy, Three years ago you wrote my seventeen year old daughter a very special note. She still to this day refers to it and has it in her keepsake box. Your simple yet meaningful gesture has made a lasting impression on her. Congrats on your blog dear friend! You definitely "practice what you preach." Beth

By Beth Owens on May 29, 2011

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By Anonymous on May 29, 2011

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Cindy, Three years ago, you wrote my 17 year old a note that she still speaks of. She continues to this day to keep it in her keepsake box. This simple but thoughtful gesture has made a lasting impression on her AND I!! So..Congrats on your blog dear friend! You are more than qualified for this as you definitely "practice what you preach." Beth

By Beth Owens on May 29, 2011

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