Etiquette Tip of the Month

Thanksgiving: A Perfect Time for Thank-You Notes

With the World Series decided and the remaining trick-or-treat candy being consumed; the thought that now pops into many American's minds is the celebration of Thanksgiving. Each November Americans commemorate the bounty of our nation and our lives, by spending a day of appreciation, called Thanksgiving.

For those of you who are interested, here's a link to "The Thanksgiving Story," a fun and brief history of our oldest American tradition, at

Along with enjoying football games and a holiday feast, this November I suggest you take time to send at least eight (.remember it's a good luck number) quick and simple thank-you notes. Show your appreciation and thankfulness to someone you know for whatever "gift" they've given you.

A gift can be many things: a physical item, a good job someone has done for you at work or at home, and an invitation to a party or meal. Use this month to catch up on all those thank-you notes you've been meaning to send. In business it's the perfect time---before the end-of-the-year rush---to send clients, customers, vendors, and suppliers your note of appreciation for their business and service.

A personal, handwritten thank-you note is the finest form of expressing gratitude. It takes the most effort and time and is the most tangible evidence of our genuine appreciation of the person to whom it is addressed.

Here is a simple guide for thank-you notes for both business and personal use:

  1. Ideally, send thank-you notes within 24 to 48 hours of receiving the gift. The sooner you send it, the greater the impact it will have. However, it is never too late to send a note. Use this month of "thanks" to catch up on your "thank-yous," no matter how much time has gone by.

  2. To save time and stress, keep a supply of note cards and stationery, plus postage stamps to have ready at all times.

  3. Write all your notes by hand. Take your time, regardless of how impaired you think your handwriting looks.

  4. Pay attention to how the card faces when opened. I can't tell you how many times I receive cards written on the wrong side or in the wrong direction.
    • For vertical, left-creased cards: Begin writing on the inner, right side of the folded card.
    • For horizontal, top-creased cards: Begin writing on the inner, lower side of the folded card.
    • Some cards are difficult to tell which way it is intended to face. Be sure to look at the back side of the card for guidance in this area.

  5. Begin the note based on your relationship with the receiver.
    • For personal correspondence where you are accustomed to calling the person by their first name: Dear John and Mary, (first name followed by a "comma.") is correct.
    • For business notes, stick to formal salutations until you are invited to address the person by the first name: Dear Ms Smith: (an honorific and last name, followed by a "colon.") is proper.
    • For informal business notes, addressed to someone with whom you want to address by their first name: Dear John: (first name and a colon) is also appropriate.

  6. Be specific in your thanks. When thanking someone for inviting you to a meal or event, mention how happy you were to share in the experience, mention a person you enjoyed meeting, or a food item you particularly liked. When thanking someone for performing a favor for you, explain how important their gift of time was for you. For physical gifts, name the item, along with something nice and complimentary about it.
    • Rather than say: "Dear Aunt Sarah, Thank you for the lovely gift. I really like it. Love, Syndi."
    • Do say: "Dear Aunt Sarah, Thank you very much for the beautiful black sweater for my birthday. It's just the perfect item to wear at an evening occasion, where I want to stay warm, yet still look dressy. Your loving niece, Syndi Seid"

  7. Sign your first and last name clearly at the end of your note. An exception may be to an immediate family member who knows who you are by your handwriting.

  8. Address the envelope using the person's full name and appropriate honorific. Include your name and return address. Use a regular postage stamp rather than metered postage to send your note.

Happy Thanking!

P.S.  From me to you, my loyal readers ...

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