The Anatomy Of A Thank You Note – Krrb’s Guide To Expressing Gratitude With Style


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a kid thank you note

First off, if you can get your hands on a kid who is just learning to write and then convince said kid to write (or make a good go at writing) "Thanks" on a piece of paper that you can put into an envelope and send, you are golden. Your job is done. Who is not going to be touched by a child's early attempts at writing?

Nothing says thank you like a note written by a 4 year old. But for those who don’t have the monk-like patience it takes to elicit the above pictured type of work from a pre-schooler, there is hope.

You too, can produce thank you notes that would make your grandparents proud and that would bring a smile to even the most jaded of faces. Just come along as we guide you through the ins and outs of these written expressions of gratitude, hopefully inspiring you to discover just how far a little extra effort can get a person in this world.


I mean, if the leader of the free world has the time to write thank you notes by hand, I don't want to hear anything from the rest of us about not being able to "get around to it."

Looks simple, right? And it is! We’ve broken the thank you note down into its most basic parts to show you how easy it is. And hopefully to help you get past your mom’s nagging voice (“What?? You haven’t written Aunt Merna a thank you note yet?”) and into the joyous world of those-that-write-notes. You’re gonna love it here. Promise.

The Occasion

OK so here’s the first big issue to tackle: When do I need to write a thank you note? The simple answer is: “Anytime.” But life ain’t simple, and we can’t spend all of our waking hours writing cute notes on carefully selected custom cards. People generally write thank you’s for gifts, special favors (“Thanks for lending me your Porsche convertible for the month”) after a job interview, after you’ve visited someone’s home for the weekend or – gasp – longer, etc.

Some people say that writing a thank you note after a dinner party is overkill, but if you had a great time, we say go for it! It was nice of them to cook for you, wasn’t it? The one group of folks who don’t need written thank you’s are the ones who you live with, though ladies, how great would it be to get a sweet thank you missive from your husband every once in a while? (hint hint…)

The Stationery

letterpress thank you note

A card printed on letterpress gives just the right amount of gravitas, but the modern design and bright color of this Tella Press card keeps things light and fun! You can find this card (and more!) on

You’d think that in this age of electronic mail there’d be a lack of options, but the stationery business is booming! Choose something special, that expresses some aspect of your personality without being overbearing. We love a little letterpress, for it’s handmade qualities as well as it’s authentic feel. It’s a great way to be old-school without feeling like a fuddy duddy.

Also, keep the notes brief, unless you have a whole lot to say. Thank you notes are simply for saying thank you. Leave the annual catch up session for those dreaded (and often epic) holiday letters. Postcards are cool, too, and you can often find great vintage ones at your local thrift shop.

Here are a few of our favorite stationery sources… all on Krrb, no less:

A Postcard


Lets be honest, when was the last time you sent anybody a postcard?

Keep it short and sweet with these postcards, designed by Idea Chic out of Glenndale, Colorado. With one of these, your note can be a simple one-liner, you save a little on postage and you’re using less paper by skipping the envelope!

A Note Card


Each Pepper Press card is individually letterpressed in Brooklyn.

Thank you notes don’t have to have those exact words printed on them—any nice stationery will do the trick. And if you find one that is truly beautiful, like this card by Brooklyn’s Pepper Press, and reflects your own style, so much the better.

DIY Thank You’s

handmade thank you notes

Everything you need to know about making your own thank you notes is right here in this book.

And hey, if you’re really going for it, there are all sorts of ways you can make your own backdrop for your expression of gratitude. Check out this book for some great ideas and let your imagination fly!

And now lets break the note down into it’s basic parts…

The Anatomy (in 6 parts)

1. The Greeting
Dear People of France,

First off, a thank you note should always be handwritten. No matter how bad your writing is. Try and get it together for these few short lines. Writing on a computer and then printing it out is just plain lame.

Of course, the standard here is a simple “Dear Eliza,” but you can vary the salutation depending on your relationship to the recipient. A simple “Eliza–” might feel more informal, while a “Dearest Eliza” is a bit old-fashioned-but-terribly-romantic. If you’re feeling way outside the box, you can always add a little flava to the mix with a “Hey!” or a “What’s up!” but these start to feel forced, so be careful. Simple is always better.
2. The Gratitude
Thank you so much for the arrestingly beautiful Statue of Liberty you sent over to us.

Here’s the part where you say, quite simply, “Thank you for the ______ (insert name of gift here).” It’s basically the part where you let the giver know that you’ve actually received whatever it was they were so kind to send your way. If you are particularly into the gift, you can insert a complimentary adjective in front of the noun (“Thank you for the cuddly slippers/delicious tea/otherworldly terrarium, etc”)
3. The Proof Of Use
She now stands majestically in New York Harbor, greeting all who come to these shores in hopes of a better life. We really think she’s taken quite nicely to her new home.

Now’s the part where you say something complimentary about the gift and explain how you use it. And if you don’t really like the thing, find something about it that you can be positive about without lying. Because hey, it really is amazing that they managed to fit all of the colors of the rainbow into one tiny scarf, right?
4. The Once And Future Contact
We really appreciated your support of our effort to overthrow those blasted English (can you believe it was 100 years ago already?) and hope that we can stand side by side again should there be any similar conflicts in the future.

This is the section where you reinforce the actual human contact you may have had with the giver, especially if the gift was given to you at a party or celebration (“I loved seeing your smiling face at graduation…”) and then you make them feel good by expressing excitement at the prospect of seeing them again in the future. You basically want them to know that you see them as an integral part of your life, even if you only see them once every other year.
5. The Gratitude (Again)
Thanks again for sending Lady Liberty our way. We can’t imagine the harbor without her.

You can’t really say thank you too many times. Well, maybe you can, but not if you’re only saying thanks twice. So go for it.
6. The Exit
xox The United States

Use whatever word feels comfortable to you here (Love, Best, Sincerely, Smooches…) sign your name and rejoice. Your work is done. Or it will be, as soon as you address the envelope, put a nice stamp on there and toss it in the mailbox.

See? That wasn’t so hard, was it?

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  • MMinSJ

     Are you sure that both spellings of “stationery” are correct when the word means “writing paper”? The word with an A has a completely different meaning.

  • Mzwasp

    Actually, either spelling is now considered correct. And of course the point of thank you notes is to express, aspire to, and perhaps even inspire graciousness.

  • You are absolutely correct. Fixing right now. Thanks!

  • Lyoungsma

    As a card sender myself, loved your blog!
    Thank you

  • Lizochka65

    “We’ve broken the thank you note down into it’s most basic parts to show you how easy it is.”  should be “its” most basic parts; otherwise, you’re saying “it is” most basic… sorry to be nit picky but thank you for a lovely article.

  • Thanks for the catch on “stationary” vs. “stationery.” Consider it fixed. Monica, thanks for the tip on Leslie Harpold’s article. We weren’t aware of it.

  • Petersonny

    I hope your stationery is stationary. If not, perhaps you should cut back on your drinking.

  • If you’re going to summarize Leslie Harpold’s perfect article on thank-you notes, you could at least have given her credit. Even the six steps are identical.

  • Franca Bollo

    It’s stationery, with an “e”.

  • Ken Schiele

    My 9 year-old daughter just wrote her thank-you notes for her X-mas gifts.  She whipped out 8 of them effortlessly, and did a remarkably good job, hitting most of the points you list above.  It was a ‘chore’ we made her do before we would embark on the fun for the day, but her genuine appreciation came through in them all.  I’m jealous – I wish it was as easy for me.  Mine were also stilted and formulaic by comparison – I wish I had seen this blog posting 1st for some inspiration….

  • Andrew

    Dear George and Brooke,

    Thank you both for chiming in here. It’s a pleasure to see your…well, not smiling faces exactly but rather wild eyes (George) and lovely hand (Brooke). Regardless, I found this to be a terrifically useful post as I have thousands of thank-yous to catch up on. I guess now is as good a time as any to begin. In case you didn’t already hear about it, I recently had a drink with my friend and we had a great time talking politics, business and just he ins-and-outs of life as we both know it. It was a great night. Two days later I received a thank you card from him. I was impressed. That’s all for now.

    Most Sincerely,


  • Sweet George,

    Totally hear you re the dinner party thank you thing, tho these days, most people have forgotten all about the party by the time a letter actually gets to them!

    People are simply way more civilized in France, what can I say?

    Ta ta,


  • Dearest Brooke,

    Thanks for the great article! I will most definitely put this to use. In France, it is rude to not say thank you after a dinner party … it doesn’t have to be written, text message or email is fine. And for me, I always find it weird to host a dinner party and then not hear from my guests afterwards. I start to wonder if they didn’t like my food! Or was it something I said??

    Well, next time I am in NYC, you and Josh should totally invite me over for a dinner party so that I can follow up with all my thank you note learnings ;-) Thanks again!