Erika Preval - Simply Put

A Guide to Gracious Gratitude


A desk perfect for penning thank you notes. [click]

One of the highlights of my childhood was sorting the mail. Not only did it give me first dibs on viewing the new covers of our monthly magazine subscriptions, it also enabled me to study the handwriting of family friends sending notes of thanks – sometimes adapting my penmanship to theirs. With the addition of electronic communication, I’ve noticed a lot of missteps when it comes to the proper response for the receipt of gifts, and the like. To be certain your method of thanks doesn’t elicit a Southern “bless their heart” do consider the following guide to gratitude:

Pen to Pad – This is a non-negotiable. When someone is thoughtful enough to present you with a gift, an old-fashioned handwritten thank you note is required. Not a text message. Never a social media shoutout. A stamped note via snail mail is still considered the most sincere form of gratitude. In the case of graduations, weddings and babies, stationery should always be on hand, so that you can quickly thank the giver.

Type Away – Though not as warm, an email expressing thanks is appropriate following an invitation using the same method. Evite, Paperless Post, and others have opened up the door to an inexpensive and casual way of spreading the word about upcoming events. If your dinner party invitation comes via email, and your relationship with the host is such, an emailed thank you may be appropriate.

Rule of Thumbs – On occasions such as being invited by a close friend to lunch, a quick text message of gratitude afterwards is sufficient. There’s a debate when it comes to dating, but my advice is that a quick thank you text, once you’re home, is appropriate here. Surely, you will have thanked them in person, but this gesture keeps the lines of communication open.

Please note: A late thank you is always better than none at all. Also, handwritten thank you notes through the post will always make the biggest impact on their recipient. The best way to ensure your note is sent promptly is to have all the tools needed (stationery, stamps, etc.) at the ready. In any case, it’s important to know your audience and cater to their expected level of gratitude. After all, the basic rule of etiquette is to make certain the other person feels comfortable!

This post is also featured at The Southern Coterie where I offer a monthly post on modern manners as a member of The C-Team.





Valerie saysMarch 9, 2014

Thanks for this timely (for me) and informative post. I definitely need to set up a thank you writing station. And consider me properly chastised for having several outstanding thank you notes due. I will work to redeem myself in the next two weeks. Via handwritten notes, of course.

    Erika Preval saysMarch 9, 2014

    You’re most welcome, Valerie! Thank you for making the world a bit more charming. Happy writing!

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