Thank You Note Etiquette

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Thank you note etiquette: Here are the Top 10 Most Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs ). The answers are taken from professional research, etiquette experts, and personal experience.

Thank You Note Etiquette - Top 10 FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

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1.  How long do I have to write a thank you note?

Obviously send them out as soon as possible, but within 2 weeks is generally acceptable.

For wedding gifts, it's 2 weeks for presents received before the wedding and within one month for ones received after.

For gifts received while you were sick, write them as soon as you're well enough.

Thank you note etiquette

2.  Do I have to write a thank you note for a thank you note?

No. But if you received a thank you gift and the giver wasn't there to thank in person, then yes, you should write a note.

If the gift is from a close friend or relative, you can email or call.

3.  When do I need to send a thank you gift in addition to a note?

This is really a judgment call on your part. A big over-the-top gift for a comparatively minor favor might embarrass the recipient and backfire on you.

For example: Did you see the Seinfeld episode where Elaine buys George a cup of coffee, so he buys her a coffeemaker as a thank you? Elaine was more confused than impressed. In this case, a simple verbal "thanks" when George received the coffee would have been sufficient.

4.  How do I thank someone for a gift I didn't like?

When thanking someone for a gift you disliked, you can either tell a white lie and say you love it or you can use neutral adjectives such as useful, unique, unusual, or remarkable.  For example, "I so appreciate the bracelet!  It's truly unique." 

Alternatively, describe the gift giver instead, using words like thoughtful, considerate, kind, helpful, generous.

5.  How is a business thank you note different from one I send to a friend?

  • Don't sign a business note "Love"; "Sincerely" is your best bet.
  • Don't get too personal; stick to the facts.
  • Enclose your business card in a business thank you note. 
  • Your tone should be professional.  Check out some of the business thank you note samples for details.

6.  If I interview with a group of people (panel), do I need to send each person a note?

Yes. The notes can be similar though. Here are some interview thank you note samples.

Thank you notes

7.  Can I email my thank you note?

Increasingly yes.  However, think about your particular situation.  If it's a casual friend you see often, email is probably fine.  If the gift was particularly meaningful or expensive or otherwise significant, handwritten would be better.

And consider the image below.

Email or handwrite thank you notes?

8.  When should my children start writing their own thank you notes?

Children can "help" parents write notes as soon as they are old enough to hold a crayon or peel a sticker. When they are old enough to write their names, they should sign the cards you write. When they're old enough to write, kids can write them with a little help with wording from parents. More in Thank You Note Samples for Kids.

Kids thank you notes

9.  How long does it have to be?

Basic thank you note etiquette requires at least 4 sentences. Think--

  1. Thanks for the gift
  2. Why you like it
  3. How you'll use it
  4. Closing sentence such as "looking forward to seeing you soon".

More tips in the How To section.

How do I write a thank you note?

10.  Do I have to write a thank you note if I already thanked them in person?

Thank you note etiquette says generally not.  But if it's a very meaningful or generous gift, it certainly doesn't hurt.

Note: If it's a shower gift, write one even if you already thanked them at the shower. Read more tips on etiquette.

A couple more questions...

Q: Where do you like to buy stationery?

A: A thank you note can be written on just about anything.  However, for the most stylish options, see my Stationery page.

Q: Can you recommend a good website for printing out stationery?

A: Yes!  See my free printable stationery page for lots of great options.

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