How to Write a Thank-You Note, Illustrated

The maelstrom of holiday gift-giving is finally winding down for the year, leaving a trail of ripped paper, crumpled tissue and bedraggled ribbons in its wake. We now turn to a less lauded but still very important end-of-year tradition: writing thank-you notes.

A handwritten message may seem like a chore or a relic of a bygone era, but experts argue that they are worth the extra effort. We talked to etiquette coaches about how to write a good one. These are their tips.

For a small token or act of service — say, watering your desk plant while you’re away or saving you the last brownie — an email or text may suffice. But if someone gave you a gift or went out of their way to do something nice, a handwritten note is best.

If you have high-quality stationary and A+ calligraphy skills to bring extra pizazz to your note, great! But you don’t have to buy special tools to make the gesture meaningful. A folded piece of paper — even a Post-it note, if that’s what you have on hand — will work, too. It’s the message that counts.

The ideal note is brief and to the point. Start by thanking the person, with specificity, for their gift or kind act. Write about how you plan to use their gift or how their actions made you feel. And then reiterate your thanks and mention the next time you’ll see the person.

Pick a closing salutation appropriate to your relationship with the person you’re thanking. “Sincerely” or “Best” is suitable for a colleague or boss. For someone close, consider “Warmly,” “Love” or a playful “XOXO.” Once you’re done, send it off: The timelier the better, but there is no statute of limitations on gratitude.

Read more about why thank-you notes matter and how to craft a great one.