Thank You Note Etiquette

Thank you note etiquette requires that a formal thank you be mailed after receiving a wedding gift, but what about other circumstances?

A thank you note is obviously necessary for gifts received by a giver who is not on hand to thank in person, but it is also nice to send a note of appreciation for any gift or kind act.

Match the note with the occasion. Use formal stationary if a formal invitation was used for the event (such as a wedding, important dinner, or graduation ceremony).

Otherwise, informal stationary or cards can be used, but always hand-write the thank you message.

Mail a thank you as soon as possible. Refer to our thank you note etiquette guidelines below that specifically address wedding situations.

When you live your life with an “attitude of gratitude,” sending a thank you note becomes second nature. There is never a wrong time to express your appreciation!

Thank You Note

Etiquette Tips

What to Write

  • Always open your message with the name of the giver. (Dear Aunt Judy,)
  • Thank the giver for the gift or gesture. (Thank you so much for the sweater.)
  • Mention something about the gift or gesture. (I love the color and it fits me perfect.)
  • Thank the giver again. (I appreciate your thoughtfulness on my birthday.)
  • Sign off with an appropriate phrase. (Gratefully yours,)
  • And sign your name!

Occasions to Send a Thank You

  • Gifts, of course. (Christmas, holiday, birthday, baptism, Bar Mitzvah, graduation, baby shower, anniversary, get-well, congratulations, etc.)
  • Favors or assistance. (Watching over your house while on vacation, picking you up when your car broke down, passing along contact information for a job prospect, etc.)
  • Condolences. (Attending a memorial service, sending flowers or donations, bringing over dinner, etc.)
  • Hospitality. (Dinner party, overnight accommodations, sight-seeing excursions, anytime you are a guest of someone at an event, etc.)

When to Mail a Thank You Note

  • Gifts, favors, and hospitality—as soon as possible, at most within one week.
  • Get-well gifts or cards—as soon as you are recovered enough to write a note. A family member or friend can write them for you.
  • Condolences—there is no “official” time frame for sending a thank you for condolences. Do this at your own pace, or you can have a family member or friend help you write them.


  • Thank you notes should be sent to all gift-givers (engagement, shower, or wedding), attendants, shower hosts, anyone who housed out-of-town guests, contractors who do an exceptional job (caterer, photographer, etc), and your parents!
  • Thank you notes for wedding gifts should be mailed within three months of the wedding.
  • Shower or engagement thank you notes should be sent within two weeks.
  • Notes to shower or engagement party hosts should be sent within two days of the party.

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