A faster, foolproof thank you note.

An adventurous spirit is naturally incomplete without gratitude. It’s not possible to stand in front of a wide expanse of ocean or open time without thankfully considering the people and decisions that have led you there. 

But there are lot of people who are full appreciation and full of dread for thank you notes. At their worst, thank yous can feel inauthentic, inefficient or a little anachronistic to write or receive.

Slate recently argued that thank you notes feel moot in a time of instantaneous feedback. What can you say in a card that you can’t text or email back days or weeks sooner? It’s true that a handwritten note is no longer necessary for actual proof of receipt. And because of that, it’s become even more of an art to write a decent one.

There are many, many guides to the thank you note, and most focus on how to acknowledge a gift and how you’ll use it. But if penning your passion for a pair of wool socks stops you short, I propose another easier and more meaningful way to write your way through a season’s worth of gifts.

This kind of note focuses on the gift giver instead of the gift itself and allows you more ammo to share kind words that you might never get the chance to say to a person in the course of daily life. This kind of note also becomes a lot easier to write when you move your focus away from the object you're thankful for.

Got your favorite pen and stationery handy? Let’s do this. 

First, get into the right mindset. Every gift is meant to be an expression of thankfulness for the giftee. So, you’re not writing a thank you note for a gift, you’re writing a thank you note for this person being in your life and thinking of you. There are very few opportunities to show appreciation for the people you love, so make this thank you note a letter worth saving. 

Step 1: Greet the giver and acknowledge the gift. 

Pretty simple. No fancy stuff here.

Optional Step 2: Add one more sentence about how you plan to use the gift or have already used it.

Show you know how much thought they put into their selection. This is usually the hardest part of a thank-you to write, especially if the gift is impersonal. But in this recipe it's optional because you're making a meatier note. If you’re not inspired to talk more about the gift, skip this sentence and move on. 

Step 3: Share your appreciation for the gift giver. 

Your gift giver put you on a shortlist of people that deserve a physical manifestation of love. What do you appreciate about your gift giver? Share a memory of spending time with the person, related to the gift or not. 

  • What happened the last time you saw them that made you laugh? 
  • When was the last time you randomly thought of them? Why?
  • What did they do at the gift-giving occasion that brought you joy?

Step 4:  Share a hope for the next time you see each other and sign off. 


Propose a plan for getting together soon or staying in touch, and end your card warmly. 

That’s it. A foolproof recipe for appreciation that’s just as easy to write as a normal thank you card. If it works for you, write me a thank you note! 

P.S. If you were delighted by the famous thank you notes at the top of this post, you can read more at Letters Of Note.