The MoBster Diaries

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Dreaded Thank You Note

Any child receiving a birthday present or any couple opening a stack of wedding gifts knows that the downside to being showered with wonderful loot is having to write the dreaded thank you note. (Cue ominous music) It's not that the recipients aren't grateful for the time, thought, and cost that has gone into the gift or favor. It's not that anyone's shy about saying "Thanks!" It's just, well, there do seem to be a lot of roadblocks between opening the gift and slapping a stamp on a completed note of gratitude.

We write a lot of thank you notes for our Elegant Scribbles clients, so we understand how daunting the whole process can seem. A couple of big things put people off of writing notes right from the start. Let's see. There's time, of course. It does take time to assemble cards, stationery, and stamps, track down a pen that doesn't blob or skip, and then try to think of something to say that doesn't sound formulaic, silly, or ungrateful.

And skill. A good thank you note requires a little mental and physical skill. The note should contain a something personal (I always love your gifts, or How did you know this is my favorite game?, or We were so glad you could join us at the wedding!), so you have to do a bit of thinking about that. Of course, sometimes diplomacy is needed, especially if the gift is, well, just not the right thing (bunny slippers for a 12-year-old boy, or a couple's 16th gravy boat). And the handwriting should be fairly legible, so that the thankee can read what the thanker wrote.

Face it, just thinking about the whole process can cause even the most stout-hearted nose-to-the-grindstone type to run through a gamut of procrastination techniques, like cleaning toilets and mowing lawns. May I suggest a few tips that might light a little thank you note fire under any notewriter?
  1. Distinctive note cards or paper: There are lots of ways to create either folded- or post-cards via various photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak, etc., using your own photos and designs, so go forth and have fun. Let kids help design their own cards, and they'll be proud to show 'em off (even if they have to write a thank you note to do it). 
  2. Great pens: Go to a store with a good selection, buy a few different tips and ink types, then take them home and try them out on your stationery. Select the one(s) that feel right to you. And the most expensive pen may not always be the one that suits you best.
  3. Stamps: Have them handy. Order online from USPS or design your own (yes, you can do that). Nothing slows down the thank-you-note-writing process more that knowing that you have to make a trip to the post office to buy the stamps. No excuses now!
  4. Template: OK, yes, you're going to need to spend a little time crafting your note. If you create a template or two, you won't have to sweat so hard over each note. I'm not talking a cookie-cutter note, but a guide to simplify things. Elements of the note do require specific information, for example what the gift was and a brief personal line, but the framework can be the same for all the notes. It doesn't have to be long and involved: a greeting, opening line of thanks for the gift, something special or particular about the gift/giver/event, closing line, and signature.
  5. Address List: Names, addresses, and the specific gift.
Yes, yes, yes. It seems a lot up front, but trust me. Gather all your stuff (and have fun doing it), create your template, and start writing. Once you get the system down - say, after a couple of birthdays or bridal showers - you'll be able to zip off a lovely, much appreciated note in no time.

And who knows? After one or two wonderful thank you notes, Aunt Mabel may forego giving you bunny slippers and opt for something you'll really like!

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posted by MaryB at | 1 Comments