The Art of Thank You Letters

Think about it for a second. When was the last time you got a for real and real letter? Not an email, not a bill, not a catalog, not a text message, but- a real, handwritten letter? I got one from my dear, long-time friend Allen Johnson about a month ago. It appeared in my mailbox completely out of the blue and it totally made my day. I also got one from Leigh over Christmas with the cutest initial button with it. Other than those two, I cannot tell you when the last time was that I got an actual, handwritten letter.

In high school and in my early college days, I must have gotten thousands of letters- literally. And. Here is a something that likely will not surprise you- I still have, in my attic, 95% of all the letters I have ever received. That is how much I treasure handwritten notes. I would also say that for every one letter I have gotten, I have written five others.

When I think about writing letters, I always think about my grandmother, Anne. Every Christmas I always got a new box of personalized stationary. I came to look forward to it. And it is because Anne made me write thank you letters as a child that I fully appreciate them as an adult.

Anne was a stickler about thank you and she would be appalled that I am just now at the end of January mailing out thank you letters from Christmas. This year, I just feel successful getting them done! (Better late than never.) Anne did not think it was anywhere near acceptable for me to sincerely thank someone for a gift- nor was a telephone call any where near an acceptable form of gratitude.

Anne towing the line on thank you letters made me understand and fully appreciate a handwritten letter. I remember getting my first email account at boarding school and trying to figure out how to email my dad among other people. I had no idea that handwritten letters would so rapidly become so antiquated.

I still write letters. Admittedly, I do not write as many as I once did but, I certainly still write thank you letters. And it is a fading art. It is because of this, that the power of a handwritten letter has increased a hundred fold! Because they are so rare, they are so much more special than they have ever been before now. A handwritten letter is proof that you took time out of your day to sit down and focus on your recipient. It is not even in the same league as someone who sat down and banged out an email much less a group email. So, I want to share with you how I prepare and write letters and in particular thank you letters.

The first thing I have always done when I sitting down to write thank you letters is make a list of everybody I need to write letters to thank and what I am thanking them for. It helps keep me on task. When I collect my stationary, I go ahead and get my addresses handy. And, when I sit down to write a letter, I get particular about the type of pen I use- but, of course, that’s me.

the listSo then, I just start writing. I try to be as personal as I possibly can. I try not to write a form letter but, I have my own formula for thank you. Basically, I come out of the gate with the thank you. Then I mention something else related to the person I am writing and then I end with thanking them again. I don’t know if that is the right formula but, it has always worked for me.

the Art of Thank You Letters

Are you wondering if I will let Baby Bub slide writing thank you letters? The short answer is no. Baby Bub will absolutely write thank you letters. I have already started thinking about how soon he can start writing thank you letters because guess who writes them for him now? (If you guessed Bub, you are wrong.)



For Baby Bub’s thank you letters, I used Pic Monkey to do some editing and such to this cute photo and printed it. Then I use the photo as a postcard. I think it is pretty cute.

I encourage you to either rekindle your letter writing affection or nurture a new fountain of letter writing affection. A handwritten letter in this fast-paced, tech age is so powerful. Take a minute to write one because you just might get one back!



Savvy Southern Style


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  1. I am so behind in reading blogs, but so glad I saw this post because when I was cleaning out my drawers at mom’s house a few weeks ago I found a letter you wrote me when we were likely 13/14 or somewhere thereabouts! I loved that you did that then and now!
    I am currently trying mightily to get all my thank you notes written from Christmas and the girls’ birthdays too — clearly I am woefully behind.
    Your post made me smile!

    • Thanks Jessica. How funny that you found an old thank you from me! I am telling you Anne used to crack the whip on those thank yous! Ha! But, I am so glad she did. Now, I totally appreciate the fact that she ingrained that in me. And I am going to do my best to past that on to Henry. I am already thinking of ways to pass that torch to him… like by his 2nd birthday! 🙂

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