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How to write the perfect thank-you note

Etiquette trainer and bestselling author Myka Meier on the perfect Smythson stationery, what ink to use and how never to begin a thank-you letter…

Whether it’s to express your gratitude for a gift, a wonderful meal, a holiday, a professional courtesy or a personal kindness, a thoughtful thank-you note is always appreciated.

But it’s not always easy to strike the right tone, so we asked international etiquette trainer Myka Meier for her tips on how to write the perfect thank-you note, whatever the occasion.

New York-based Meier is the bestselling author of Modern Etiquette Made Easy and has helped thousands of people to master the finer points of good manners as the founder of Beaumont Etiquette and co-founder of The Plaza Hotel Finishing Program.

When the former Londoner is back in town, she is a regular on the genteel streets of Chelsea and can often be spotted on Sloane Street stocking up on stationery at Smythson, which she always recommends to students and uses for all of her personal correspondence.

Here, Meier shares her advice on how to write the perfect thank-you note, from how to select your stationery to what ink to use, and even how you should never start a letter…

In a time when people mainly communicate electronically, it’s so lovely and always a surprise to receive a handwritten thank-you note, which means the person took the added time, making the recipient feel extra special.

Stationery can be used to send a simple note to say hello or as a tangible form of gratitude.

When picking out stationery, you may choose to either have a flat card (the most traditional choice for correspondence), or a folded card. Both are appropriate; it’s simply a matter of style preference.

When selecting your stationery, the point is to choose a motif or design that not only reflects your personal style but will also bring joy to the person who is receiving it.

I always use Smythson correspondence cards because there’s such a great selection of options for every occasion, from formal to fun. I have a collection of styles from which I can choose, depending on the tone of the note.

For example, to thank a new acquaintance who invited me over to dinner, perhaps I’d use my classic navy monogrammed Smythson stationery. If I’m sending something to a close friend, I’ll choose something a bit more playful but still elegant, such as the beautiful silver moon cards instead.

It’s so lovely and always a surprise to receive a handwritten thank-you note

When it comes to choosing which colour ink to use, black ink tends to be more formal than blue ink.

As for the composition, here is how to write the perfect thank-you note:

STEP 1

The way you address the person should reflect the formality of your relationship. Formally, it may be most appropriate to say, “Dear XX,”. However, for a close friend, perhaps you could simply start off with their first name. Such as, “Beverly,”.

STEP 2

Start with how something made you feel. For example, “I was so excited when I opened…” Pro tip: never begin a thank-you letter with the words “Thank you…” It is too expected and often causes the person reading to flash over the remainder of the note.

STEP 3

Now it’s time to actually use those words of gratitude, showing exactly what you are thankful for. “Thank you for… such a thoughtful gift, a lovely evening, a relaxing stay… etc”.

STEP 4

Closing the letter. Wrap up your note with a line that expresses an intention for the future. Something like, “I’m so looking forward to seeing you next month”, or “I hope we can return your hospitality soon”.

STEP 5

Similar to your opening, your sign off should reflect the formality of your relationship. Formally, you may wish to sign off with “Best wishes,” or “Warmest regards”. Informally, a simple “Love,” may do the trick!

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