Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanks A Million!

Time flies when you're having fun, and never has that been more clear for me than when I realized that today is the one-year birthday of this blog! It's been a total pleasure sharing my musings, but it wouldn't be nearly as enjoyable if there were no one reading. Thank you so much for visiting with me every day and letting me boss you around. Your readership means the world to me. Here's looking forward to another year of randomness and fun!

In keeping with today's theme of my gratitude to you for reading my blog, this post is going to be about thank-you notes. It may seem like an obvious topic for this blog, and you may be wondering why it has taken me a whole year to get around to it.
The truth is that I have been avoiding this subject because I don't like hypocrisy, especially my own. While I truly believe in the importance and merits of writing thank-you notes, I admit to being somewhat epistolarily challenged. As a child, my mom had notecards printed for me that said "Lily thanks you so much for _______. And also says:_________." And still I struggled. Even once I get the note written, I never seem to be able to find a stamp or I misplace the address. It took me over a year to write my wedding thank-you notes. So now that I have confessed completely why I am not qualified to dispense advice on this topic, I will do exactly that. The thing is, I know exactly what I should do, I just rarely manage to do it. But let's make a deal: You overlook my poor thank-you note record in the past, and I'll do my best to take my own advice and be better about expressing my gratitude in a timely manner. Starting here: Thank you so much.

1. Know When to Write: You should always write a thank-you note when someone sends or gives you a gift or flowers (the exception is very inexpensive gag gifts). You should also write a note any time someone does something kind for you: hosting a party in your honor, inviting you as a guest to a special event, hosting you overnight in their home or writing a recommendation for you. It is not required, but it's smart, to write thank-you notes to interviewers or people meeting with you regarding your career. An emailed thank-you is okay in some cases, but it simply cannot replace a real, paper note with your handwriting on it. On the plus side, you don't have to write a note to anyone who lives under the same roof as you (although a sweet post-it on their pillow is a nice gesture) or when someone gives you something as a gesture of their own thanks ("thank-you-for-thanking-me") -- no note is required when someone brings a bottle of wine or flowers to a dinner party you are hosting, for example.
2. Get Organized: Buy some pretty stationery that you really like (see below for some of my favorite options)- having stationery you love is a real motivator to send a note. I recommend flat or folding cards no bigger than 5 x 7 (if the card is too large, you will feel like you have to write a longer note). Put it in a special drawer in your desk, along with some nice pens, your address book, return address labels and stamps. If you have everything you need together in one place, it's so easy to sit down and quickly jot a nice note while the kindness is still fresh in your mind. Slap a stamp on it, and boom, you're done.
3. Act Fast: Try to write the note within 72 hours (three days) of the receiving the gift/ kind act. It's fine to send a note later than that (better late than never), but it's more likely to slip your mind. And if you wait too long, you'll have to write a longer note, and it may be harder to think of what to say. If you are writing notes for a wedding or baby shower, have someone else make a very clear and detailed list of who gave you what while you open gifts. You technically have about three months to get the notes done (not a year, Lil, yeesh), but, no matter how busy you are with other things, try to make the notes a priority, or you can quickly become overwhelmed.
4. Be Specific: A good thank-you note specifically mentions the gift or kindness received ("Thank you so much for the awesome Knicks tickets"), and goes into detail about it's use ("They were the best seats we've ever had- we really felt like we were a part of the action.") One exception to this rule is in the case of monetary gifts- don't mention the exact amount ("Thank you for the $100"), instead say "Thank you for your generosity" and mention how you plan to spend it: ("Jim and I have been saving up for a new car and we are truly touched by your kindness. We can't wait to take you for a spin!")
5. Be Sincere: You don't have to lie about loving every single gift you receive. Some faux-enthusiasm can come across as saccharine and false ("We absolutely adore the citrus reamer! How did you know?!"). If you legitimately don't like something, you still need to write a note, but you are better off expressing your gratitude at the thoughtfulness that went into the selection, rather than the gift itself ("Thank you so much for thinking of us"). And remember, when someone feels like you truly appreciate their kindness, they are so much more likely to keep being kind. Which is how writing thank-you notes makes the world a better place, one envelope-lick at a time.

Top row: Pink monogramed stationery, from finestationery.com; Flourished personal stationery, from Cambria Cove; Letterpressed floral notecards, from Carrot & Stick; Notepaper letterpressed thank-you note, from Kate's Paperie. Bottom row: Colorful "Thanks" note, from Kate Spade; Lemon-motif stationery, from iomoi; Brightly colored thank-you card sets, from Kate's Paperie; Carnival-stripe personal stationery, by Kate Spade from Crane's.

1 comment:

Gecko said...

Happy Blog Day Lily!