Thank you notes - even if you are doing them, you're doing them wrong

My mom taught me to write thank you notes (thanks, Mom!), because we are civilized, polite people who have respect for our loved ones and an overall fondness for the complex social cues found in Jane Austen novels.

She gave me the basic formula when I was little:

Thank person for gift + say how you will use it + include a personal/thoughtful comment = happy gift giver

So, my early thank you notes looked like this:

Dear Aunt Gwenn,
Thank you so much for the set of red mugs you sent us for Christmas. We can't wait to paint them. We heard there was a big gathering in Philly this year; we were thinking of you all from the sunny South...

Background image by Shawn Campbell

Bored yet?

It took me way too long to figure out how to make thank you notes interesting. But, now that the holidays are over, I recommend you use this easy method instead:

Tell a story that mentions the gift.

Here's that same note written with this better method.

Dear Aunt Gwenn,
Typically, there is no real joy the day after Christmas. Sure, there are plenty of toys and new gadgets to explore, but we've all returned to work and the real world has crept in on the magic of Christmastime. We stare at each other over dinner, talk about our day and look wistfully at the empty space under the tree, but then...I bring cocoa into the room. It's real cocoa made with milk and topped with whipped cream and cinnamon, served in the bright red mugs you sent us. We talk about what we'll paint on them. And there is a bright spot of Christmas magic in our day.
Thanks again for the mugs!

See the difference?

Try it this year with your thank you notes. You'll get phone calls. It'll be fun. Tell me how it goes in the comments.

Want to thank me for this tip? Follow me and we'll call it even.

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Tags: holiday, tips, writing

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