Throughout your life, you will receive innumerable favors, gifts, congratulations and condolences. In exchange, you’ll be expected to reciprocate with thank you notes. This may be the modern world, but a text or Facebook message doesn’t cut it; a sincere, handwritten letter is in order.
When it comes to actually writing, you may find, despite your gratitude, that you have no idea what to say, and that no combination of words could do this deed or present justice. The contents of your note of course will vary based on who you’re thanking and what for, but any thank you should follow this basic formula. Any personal thank you, that is.
First, you thank them for the gift or favor, “Thank you for such-and-such, it meant so much to me,” but be sincere. If you’re responding to a gift, describe how you intend to use it and how helpful you’re expecting it to be. Say someone bought you an article of clothing; tell them where you plan to wear it and how good it looks on you. If you’re replying to a favor someone’s done you, describe the world of difference it’s made. Let them know the impact that they’ve made and reassure them that their efforts were well worth their while, and their gesture didn’t go unnoticed.
More importantly, thank them for thinking of/supporting you—the sentimental gesture underneath. This can be as simple as one sentence, such as, “Thank you for remembering my birthday!” This is something in and of itself.
Remind them how they’ve impacted your life. Not the favor that they did or gift they gave, but they, the person, how they’ve influenced your life. Everybody wants to hear they’ve made a lasting impact on you. Everybody wants to be your inspiration—it gives them a sense of validation and significance. Don’t overdo it; they don’t have to be the reason that you breathe. Maybe just mention a phrase they always say, and how you always want to say it. Or a past experience you’ve shared, like building model airplanes with your granddad, and how he’d fly them all around the living room, making all the sound affects—the vrooms and nonsensical squeals of the breaks. And every time you see an airplane overhead, you imagine granddad buzzing by. Not only does this immortalize your precious memories together, but it also reassures your correspondent that you care. Just remembering and mentioning these things will mean the world.
Now that you’ve told them how they’ve influenced you, tell them how you’re a better person for it. Think of a quality that you admire in this person, and describe how you aspire to be like them. If you don’t want to be serious, be funny. Say your uncle is notorious for divorcing women, tell him how you aspire to one day have as many wives as he has. He’ll have a laugh, if anything, and he’ll appreciate your positivity, considering the train wreck of a time he’s had with women. But only fall back on your humor if you have to. This is your chance to let this person know how blessed you are to have them in your life.
And that’s the recipe, it’s simple, just stick to the formula. It’s up to you how personal you want to get, and it’s okay to be concise—in fact, I highly recommend it. The simpler, the sweeter. Just remember, keep it real—sincerity is key.