For someone who creates and sells stationery, I’m not always confident or consistent when it comes to writing my own personal notes. I have been known to falter in the face of a condolence note, or dither and delay writing thank you notes.
It helps to remember that social correspondence is all about caring for others and kindness - we write a thank you note to let someone know a gift has been both received and appreciated, or their entertaining efforts enjoyed and applauded.
Other times, a review of basic principles of traditional note writing helps. The ‘rules’ of etiquette may have fallen out of fashion, but at their core is distilled wisdom of the ages on how to thoughtfully communicate our appreciation of and love for our friends and family. Emily Post was on to something!
So, that is why I’ve asked dear friend, former collaborator and always mannerly Elizabeth Butcher to write a few guest columns on the finer points of note writing. She begins below with thoughts on thank you notes.
Elizabeth Hammond Pyle
Much has been written on the hostess’s delight upon receiving a handwritten thank you note after a party, so we shall not dwell on that sincerest of pleasures, but instead remember, it is just one of many reasons for thanking your hostess in writing.
You may write out of obligation, a sense of decorum, heart-felt gratitude, or the simple self-interest of knowing that you never, ever, ever want to miss a party thrown by that host or hostess. Regardless of motive, thank you notes can still be difficult to dash off so here are a few simple reminders and tips:
A charming thank you note should be written and sent with haste after you have sobered up but before you have forgotten all the details. Capture the evening’s glow of good feelings, jokes, and delicious food and infuse it into your note.
You may find it helpful to think of it as a formula:
- Food & Drink
- Next time
For example, for a dinner party:
One may also apply this fomula for a larger party:
Or house guest may also employ said formula to thank her hostess:
Thus, you see the adaptability — if you stick with the specific details of the evening, outing, weekend or event, you may fall back on a fomula, but your thank you notes will never be formulaic.