It’s that time of year: decorations are put away, calories duly noted and kids have returned to school. It’s also when I sound most like my mother, “You need to write your thank you notes, Ellen. Now.” Since I was young enough to hold a crayon, my mother had me crafting notes of thanks for Christmas gifts to my grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends. Two of my three children have written their notes, and the third has partial-credit so far: notes are written, but the envelopes sit on his desk unaddressed. I told him the checks may not be cashed until the notes are posted. That ought to do it.

Whether you are a veteran note-writer, or trying to develop the habit, I hope you find motivation here. This is what works for me:

Love your stationery!

Let’s face it, most of us don’t love the chore of writing a thank-you note. Having a stash of lovely stationery can make one feel oh-so-civilized when putting pen to paper. Oodles of options abound from formal engraved personalized stationery to casual boxed cards. You can even purchase blank stock and personalize your own notes. You will know you have the “write stuff” if you can’t wait to use your stationery! Don’t worry, I will post more on the subject of personalized stationery in the very near future.

Keep a list

Sounds obvious, but making a list of gifts received ensures you don’t forget to send a note of thanks. It’s a sense of accomplishment to check the gift off your list after writing the note.

Write a draft…and save it

This is my best tip to overcoming writer’s block: draft your note on the computer until you get the wording just the way you want it. You won’t waste your nice stationery when you have an inevitable blunder either. But don’t stop there:  SAVE it. You will want to use it as inspiration again, trust me.

Helpful phrases

I appreciate a well-crafted note, and often save ones I have received. Below are snippets from my collection:

From rBr, who thanked me for a birthday lunch and gift: “If I just had lunch with you and kKk for my birthday, it would be a treat, but adding the thoughtful goodies just makes it terrific.”

From kKk, whose birthday falls close to Christmas, “Well you have outdone yourself this year – from my …, …, and …, I feel well loved and celebrated. Your many expressions of friendship mean so much to me.”

From jSl, after thanking me for a birthday celebration, writes, “Our friendship is a unique and wonderful treasure, and I’m grateful for the immense blessing of it!”

From my mother (yes, she writes me a thank-you note) for a gift certificate: “Thank you for such a flexible gift.” Really, she nailed the beauty of a gift card.

From cMs, thanking me for a baked holiday treat: “It is an annual delight that is all the more delicious because we know you baked it with love!”

Again from kKk, thanking me for an orchid, used phrases such as “something I have found I can grow and is safe from the deer and bunnies” and “instant decoration and a worry off my list”.

These are a few of my own:

For when my note is quite belated: “This note is overdue but heartfelt nonetheless.” Better a late note than one that doesn’t get written.

For a dinner party: “Thank you for a wonderful evening of friends, food and fun. The tenderloin was yummy and the dinner conversation even better. Thank you for including us.”


Much has been written about the beauty of receiving a hand-written note of thanks. This era of electronic communication magnifies the beauty even more. Don’t let this mannerly convention become a dowdy relic. Gratitude becomes you!