Sunday, January 16, 2011

How To Write Thank You Notes: 6 Tips from Author Cat Wagman

I’ve just recently had the pleasure of personally talking to Cat Wagman about her book “Why… THANK YOU!”, where she uses an example of the thank-you note as a “teaching vehicle” to help kids and grown-ups alike discover and develop their writing voices. When I asked Mrs. Wagman what were her personal feelings about thank you notes, this is what she had to say:

“I have always felt that writing thank-you notes is a simple way to express gratitude and connect one-on-one on a personal level. I also believe that your handwriting is an extension of your personality and style, and as you read a personalized, handwritten note, you hear the writer's voice in your mind. This is particular true of letters and notes from my late relatives, something that email or texting can never do.”

All so very true, isn't it? Cat has also kindly agreed to share some of her thankful writing tips to consider before writing a thank you note, here they are:
  1. Think of a thank-you note as an enjoyable mini-adventure in creative writing, not as an etiquette chore; 
  2. All you need is 3-5 sentences, and… 
  3. … it's okay to use your imagination and sense of humor; 
  4. If you have received a lot of gifts, write a short description on the back of the card that came with the gift, along with any notes about gift giver's address, relationship to you, etc.; 
  5. Motivational tip: Can't use the gift until the note is written! 
  6. Draw on your five senses for adjectives and other items, such as how the gift will be used, etc., to build a foundation of facts, before writing your note.
My personal favorite tip is the tip number 5! This is sure to work for bigger procrastinators out there, something of which I am occasionally guilty too!..


  1. It is so on my 'to do' list to have my monkeys write thank you notes this weekend- I like number five a LOT!

  2. I was raised writing thank you notes and my girls write them for every gift they get. I am surprised at how few people write them. It is a way to learn appreciation for certain. We've given birthday gifts to kid friends and spent time picking out or making just the right thing and never hear or get a thank you (verbal or note). A simple thank you note makes a big difference. glad you are sharing this here today.

  3. That's great advice. I am very grateful for a lot in my life but I'm not that good at getting thank you cards out, which is horrible. I made it a resolution at the beg. of 2010 to be better about it!!! And I'm happy to say that I definitely did get better at it. I found that really want I need to be successful is to a) have stamps handy. b) have thank you cards handy. It sounds ridiculous but if I don't have those readily available, I am much less likely to remember to do it. :) I'm not the best at it bu I'v gotten much, much better! I also make sure i have personal than you cards ready as well as professional ones that have less fuss for thank yous pertaining to my career, so that I am always prepared.

  4. I'm on a weird keyboard that has sticky keys, please excuse my typos!

  5. These are useful tips specially 5. It makes sense not to use the gift till the note is sent out.

  6. Love it. Growing up, thank you notes were always required immediately after Christmas or our birthdays. From my husband, I learned that this was not how everyone was raised. D-man is required to write notes to everyone, and it makes him feel good once it's been done. I'll share these tips with him and he may feel good about it even before he does it next time!

  7. I love writing thank you notes!


  8. Thank you, Julia, and to your readers for all the kind words! I'm delighted to be able to help everyone experience the joy of writing, especially when it comes to composing their thank-you notes.

    As a professional writer and the mother of two sons, I knew when I found fun ways to change their attitudes toward writing their own thank-you notes — from "Aw, do I have to?" to "I can do that!" — that I was onto something that would help others, (especially mothers) too.

    It's amazing how gratitude and writing are so intricately bound together. And please, always remember just how magical those positive and gracious words can be, whether written or spoken, and of the enduring power of they have to nurture relationships.

    May you always delight in what you write!
    ~ Cat Wagman

  9. That reminds me...I am shamefully behind on my Christmas thank you notes!

  10. The sense of humor part always get's me. I write something then have to stop and make sure it's appropriate in context of being a thank you letter.

    Receiving a handwritten letter, like she said, is way more personal, but being a perfectionist who doesn't really like her handwriting, I'm probably more willing to write an email :P

  11. Oi flor..
    Linda de mais aqui'

  12. Love this post! I write a lot of thank you notes both for work and in my personal life. I love the tips, sometimes I am at a loss when it comes to thank you notes, especially if I have to write 20 at a time, my mind sometimes goes blank. I will remember these tips for next time!

  13. Awesome tips! It is so important to send thank you notes and I rarely get them anymore, which makes me sad. I hope more people take her advice!

  14. I shall have to try number 5 + improve my handwriting.... in definite need... I like computers for a reason. ;) But they don't quite have the personal touch that comes with a note. :)

  15. Thanks for sharing them, its nice.

  16. :D it was nice to listen you on the radio. It's funny cause there are some internet friends i've never heard in my life.

    About the thank you notes, you made me feel guilty and lazy, i still have one to go, but it's never too late!

    Thank you for the tips ;)

  17. It was a great coincidence! I hope you had a lovely weekend!

  18. This is a great list to liven up Thank You cards with! Thank you for sharing!

  19. I have recently started a blog that is dedicated to all those who appreciate each day of their life, are lucky to have wonderful people all around them, who feel the gratitude and want to make others feel special by saying “Thanks, you are amazing!”
    Please visit and submit your Thanks to someone who has touched your life.

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I appreciate you taking the time to connect and share your thoughts, so thank you for your comment! And while you're at it... Why not tell me what you're thankful for today? ;-)