How to write and send your thank you notes on time

One good turn deserves another. Should you receive a great gift, stop and enjoy the moment. But remember that you’ve now got an important task: a thank you note. Don’t worry—writing a great thank you note is no great effort. Just follow the three S’s: simple, sincere, and sent.


“Romantic Looks” by Paperless Post

What to write in a thank you note

Writing a thank you note can flummox even fluent wordsmiths, but don’t let stage fright stop you—a simple note sent in a timely manner means a lot more than a work of genius that was never put to paper. Here’s what a good thank you note should include…

1. A greeting. Feel free to address close friends and family by a favorite pet name, but stick with a standard “Dear” for others.

2. A thank you for the specific gift or service. If you’re writing about money, “your generosity” is a handy euphemism.

3. What their gift brought to your life. Now, you may not know yet, and you may not feel particularly enthused about this year’s gift of fuzzy socks. But try to use your imagination here: will the socks keep you cozy in a freezing apartment? Will you use the corncob holders at a cookout? Let them know.

4. A personal remembrance or note, even if it’s just to say that you enjoyed seeing or hearing from them and hope you’ll do it again soon.

5. Another thanks. There’s no such thing as being too thankful in a thank you note.

6. A closing. “With love” never goes out of style, while “Sincerely” is a traditional choice that works for more distant relations.


“Birch Monarch (Stationery)” by Rifle Paper Co.

What kind of stationery do I use for a thank you note?

Back in ye olden days, this question would have had a lot of answers. Thank goodness for modernity. If you go to a stationery shop, look for “correspondence cards” or “notecards.” They’re the right size for the task, and usually come with matching envelopes. Not to toot our own horn, but our personalized notecards at Paper Source come with matching lined envelopes, for that extra flourish.

When it comes to picking out a notecard, let your own style reign supreme, but white or cream cards are traditional and versatile for any other note-writing occasions.  


“Double Hand-Drawn Border – White” by Linda and Harriett

Can you email a thank you note?

Personalized paper notecards are a lovely grace note. But etiquette experts agree: an emailed thank you note is perfectly acceptable. A note sent on a piece of online stationery? Even better.

How long do I have to send thank yous?

Aim for speed. We’ve known many a well-meaning parent who stashes the opened Christmas gifts until each child presents a corresponding finished thank you note. That’s a bit severe, but it’s not a bad organizational tactic. Aim to have a note out (especially if they’re going to be emailed) within five days of opening the gift, and at no more than two weeks away.


Time to get grateful. Browse our collection of online thank you cards and stationery.


Cards shown in hero image: “Marbleized (Stationery)” by Kelly Wearstler, “Richmond Park (Stationery) – White/Gold” by Oscar de la Renta.