The art of the thank you

Leontina Richardson, president of Stepping Into Etiquette

Let’s face it: There’s going to be at least one gift under your Christmas tree this year that you’d

rather sell on eBay. We’ve all been there. But the reality is, you still need to write that person a thank-you card. Although you wouldn’t be caught dead in that itchy scarf your coworker made everyone in the office, she still put a lot of time and thought into it. The relationship is what really matters.

Here are some tips for writing good letters this holiday season.

1: Don’t go digital

Handwrite your cards. Not only will your recipient appreciate getting a letter that isn’t a bill, but they’ll also recognize you put time and thought into it. Texting “Thanks, Grandma,” is far less endearing.

2: Don’t begin your card with “Thank You”

If you say thank you first, then your recipient won’t pay much attention to the rest of the letter

because they know what to expect. Instead, write your letter with the following guidelines:

The Beginning: “Dear [insert name here].”

The Middle: Write something that elicits an emotional response equal to the thoughtfulness of

the gift. Try, “I am blown away by how perfect your Christmas gift was.” Then include what you

enjoyed about the gift. Try, “These dishes look so good with my new dining room set.” Now you

can express your gratitude: “Thank you so much.” Then add any closing thoughts you have, as in, “Now all I’m missing is your company for lunch. Let’s get together soon.”

The End: You’ll likely want to sign off with either “Best Wishes,” “Best Regards,” or “Warmest

Regards.” Only use “Love” for your closest relationships.

3: Don’t wait too long

For the holidays, get your thank-you cards out within two weeks of receiving gifts. For dinner parties and other small events, you can wait up to a week. For weddings, three months is best. Remember, you want your recipients to feel appreciated, so don’t put it off until the last minute.

When it comes to expressing thanks, a well-written card goes a long way. Be an example to those around you this holiday season by always keeping a stack of thank-you cards on your desk. Not only will you be prepared for the unexpected gift, but your friends will feel safe knowing that you’ll love their gifts no matter how itchy they are. It’s the thought that counts.

Leontina Richardson is the president of Stepping Into Etiquette, a consulting firm specializing on manners and style. For more information, visit the company website at

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