5 Ways to Absolutely Ruin A Thank You Note


Show of hands…..How many of you still write the old fashion thank you note and mail it via snail mail? Me too, me too! There’s still something very special about opening up your mailbox and finding a sincere hand-written thank you note. Better than a text. Better than an e-mail. And WAAAAAY better than no thank you note at all.

However, if you really want to turn a kind gesture into a *GASP*, be sure to do any of the following to dampen the thank you note happiness.

1. Don’t write it.

While better late than never holds true (as I’ve previously blogged), thank you notes should be written and mailed within a week of receiving a gift. Exceptions are when you’re writing thank you notes for wedding gifts (one month post-wedding date) or thanking those who helped you when you were ill or expressed sympathy when you experienced a death in the family. You have more grace time on the later two.


2. Don’t mention the gift, your appreciation and how you might be using it.

Dear Aunt Gail, Thank you for my birthday gift. It was nice of you to think of me. Kelly. BLAH. Is that the best you can do after someone has kindly taken the time to pick out a gift for you? I don’t think so.


3. Pass out a generic thank you note along with the party favor bag as your guests depart.

Seriously people! Pet peeve alert! The reason behind a thank you note is to express your sincere and genuine gratitude for a particular gift. Unless you have ESP, you probably don’t know what the gift will be until after you’ve opened it, which occurs during or after the party.


4. Glue in or insert a generic, typed and printed message expressing overall “thanks.” No greeting and no “real” signature.

A friend recently messaged me to tell me that she had this exact thank you note mailed to her after giving a high school graduate a present. Typed, copied, glued and no greeting or signature. Mom even addressed the envelope. My guess is that this high school grad has a career in mass production in his future.


5. Write thank you notes for your kids.

If your child can sign his/her name, they can be part of the thank you note process. They may not be able to write in sentences yet, but you can have them draw a picture and sign their name. As they mature, give them more written liberties and have them write the note, eventually leading to them even addressing the envelope. And by the time they graduate from high school, as in the guy in #4, they  most certainly should be able fully construct and hand-write a well written thank you note. One of your many jobs as a parent is to teach them the excellent habit of thank you note writing.


Mind Your Manners,



  1. Kelly, I totally agree! I can *still* remember – though it has been almost TWENTY YEARS ago – receiving “The Thank You Note That Wasn’t” from a friend whose wedding I had attended. It was pretty much along the lines of “Dear Wedding Guest: Thank you for your gift and time attending our wedding. We appreciate it. -Elphaba” That irked me in a million ways.

    • Kelly

      Danielle, that’s another perfect example of generic & cold thanks vs. sincere & genuine thanks for a thoughtful gesture. Grrr. It’s funny how these types of things can leave their mark on us – even after many years.

  2. Great tips, miss Kelly! Love it!

  3. My high school graduate is dyslexic, I do most of his writing since if you struggle to read you also struggle to write. We had agreed to not have a graduation party because of the thank you note problem. Now we are having it because family and friends really want it. (One family actually thought the problem was the food and offered to buy, and cook the food) I still feel uncomfortable about the thank you note problem. What is the best way to handle this since most people know? The party is looking to be over 100 people so this is no small task. Please help me find a way to thank our friends and family and not insult them but also not make the graduate so miserable that he elopes to avoid any future thank you writing.

    • Kelly

      Hi Dawn! Congratulations to you and your son on his high school graduation! I truly appreciate your concerns and your amazing thoughtfulness when it comes to the importance of a thank you note. You mentioned that most people know about the dyslexia. With that in mind, I’d hope that each of them would happily welcome a generic,yet customized by you & your son, typed “thank you” that your son could then sign. I’ve also seen the thank you cards that include a picture and you can type in the the text on the inside (Snapfish.com or Shutterfly.com). The important part is to thank the attendees and gift givers for celebrating with you – and I can tell by your thoughtful question that’s important to you too. I have no doubt that those who receive whatever you send them as a thank you will be thrilled to receive such kindness in the form of a note! I hope this helped and if you want to talk further, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  4. dear kelly my son a high school graduate graduated and had a party on june 7th 2015 im always telling him you need to make out the thank you cards and he is always working he has 2 jobs what should i do give me some idea can i have him write one and i copy it paste it on thankyou cards im at my whits end thank you

    • Kelly

      Hi Janell! You’re in good company with plenty of parents who are trying to coach their busy teens to write thank you notes; especially since the millennial generation prefers texting and steers clear of the hand-written note. I’m glad you recognize how important it is to send a thank you note after friends and family went out of their way to give him a kind graduation gift. Thank YOU! Unfortunately, your son is going to need to bite the bullet and write the notes. I would not recommend copying and pasting. Set aside a specific time – or chunks of time – or number of notes written per sitting (i.e., do 5 each day this week and you’ll be done!), Have your thank you notes handy, list of people he needs to thank (and their addresses since he really should be addressing the envelope at his age) and a “script.” The script might look like “Dear X. Thank you for X. I have already/will use it to X (or some other personal mention of the gift and its’ use/meaning to your son) I’m so glad you could celebrate my graduation with me.”. It does not need to be long – three to four sentences is fine. The important part is he acknowledges other’s kindness so they are not left wondering if he received their gift. Good luck!

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