It’s that time of year where you may already be writing thank you notes for the generosity of those around you, but did you know there’s an actual “holiday” for Thank you notes?
Yep it’s December 26th! I think it was created as it’s a reminder to get your thank you notes out ASAP after the holidays. (hint hint)
Not to worry I’m here to help. To celebrate National Thank you Day, I’ve recruited my friend, Janet Parnes, Owner and Etiquette Consultant at Etiquette for Today. I’m having her share her tips on writing a Thank you note. (I thought it would be great to have someone who counsels these tips to others already, weigh in at The Appreciation Factor. Plus I’m excited to meet someone who values saying “thank you” as much as I do!)
Before we get to the tips, I thought I’d share a little bit about Janet.
TAF: Janet, Tell me a little bit about you?
As a child, I thought manners were rules somebody made up for parents to teach their kids. Over time, I realized that manners are powerful tools. They bring the qualities such kindness, generosity and confidence in ourselves and others to the forefront. Using manners also makes life more comfortable and harmonious for everyone.
I also believe that manners make up a timeless code of behaviors that lies in the bedrock of a society founded on respect for others and ourselves. My work around this code fuels me personally and professionally.
TAF: What lead you to starting an etiquette business?
Twelve years ago, a friend of mine adopted a 7 year-old girl. I decided to celebrate the adoption with a Royal Tea party and created the character Lady J to host the grand affair! That tea party was the launch pad for my company Royal Tea Parties by Lady J, now called Historical Portrayals by Lady J. At these children’s events, so many mothers asked about etiquette classes for children, that I attended the Protocol School of Washington® and developed my etiquette-consulting business. I started with children’s workshops and have since developed workshops for teens, and college students/young adults.
My workshops are built upon the premise that everyone is rich, regardless of size of his/her bank account. That is because use we are all born with innate gems such as respect, confidence, and gratitude. Students learn how to bring the dignity in themselves and others, to the forefront. They also discover manners are not arbitrary rules, but powerful tools they can use to shape their relationships
As a professional storyteller/character portrayer, I delight in engaging and inspiring my students with workshops that sizzle with tales of hapless mistakes, including my own, intriguing historical trivia and breath-catching tales of real–life rudeness.
TAF: It’s clear your passionate about the subject. Can you share why you feel it’s still important to teach etiquette in today’s society? Many might say it’s out dated.
Manners are tools we use to show others that they are important. When we make eye contact while conversing with a friend, hold the door for the stranger, or turn off and tuck away our smart phone while dining, we are silently telling others that they matter.
I believe that conduct today is becoming increasingly casual. I think technology plays a large part in this: smartphones and internet access make life easier and faster. Texts and emails are replacing face-to-face and phone conversations; and phones have become dining companions. They are often on and at-the-ready for immediate use, causing a distraction from the people around us.
The soft skills, including proper introductions, gracious table manners, and the handwritten thank-you note are getting lost perhaps because they require more time and effort. However if one puts their “gems” such respect, consideration, and appreciation into the limelight, the rewards are substantial — others will feel acknowledged and thus, important.
Here are her 5 Tips on writing a thoughtful thank you note
Now there’s no excuse to send one after receiving that great gift/or assistance this holiday season.
1. Electronic or Envelope?
First we have to decide whether to say ‘thank you” via email or handwritten note. Digital thank yous are quick and relatively easy. A handwritten note is requires more of an investment (finding the paper and pen, coming up with the content and writing it legibly, putting it in the mail, etc..) as such, the handwritten note trumps the digital thank you when it comes to a thoughtful expression of gratitude. Even if the recipient does not keep a thank you note, they’ll remember receiving it. An emailed Thank-you can get lost in the In Box
2. Select Appropriate Note Paper (Avoid the Pre-printed “Thank you” Card)
A thoughtful note scribbled on a piece of paper ripped out of a spiral notebook is absurd. The person we are thanking, and we, deserve better! Instead use note cards: plain cards or cards with a graphic: e.g., seagulls, trees, lilies, balloons—choose an image that is fitting for the person you are thanking. You can even choose a blank card for children to decorate themselves! It is also best to avoid cards with a pre-printed Thank You on the front. We should be the ones to write it.
3. Do Not Save Time with a Generic Thank You
“Thank you for the wonderful gift” can be interpreted as “I forgot what you gave me, but thanks anyway.” Your gratitude factor is pretty weak here. Instead mention the specific gift and say something about it. e.g., “Thank you for the ice cream maker! We can’t wait to make chocolate ice cream with it for birthday party!” Even if the gift does not leave you jumping with excitement, find something positive to say about it. You can find additional tips from TAF here on writing a thank you note.
4. Start at the top
Many people start their notes just below the fold of the card. If the note is likely to extend onto the back, open the note and start at the inside top instead. Your note will be fully visible from top to bottom when the recipient opens it.
5. Get to it!
Do it by getting to it! Write your note within a couple of days of receiving of the gift. That way, it fresh in your mind as you write the note, and it won’t be left on a never visited “To Do” list.
I’m grateful for Janet’s insight today. I definitely learned something — I’ve always used pre-printed “Thank you” note cards! Yikes – who knew? If you’d like to learn more about her services, workshops, or ask your pressing etiquette question, visit her Etiquette for Today website .