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Belated & Late Thank You Notes, Cards & Letters: Sample wordings, plus a 4-step guide

"Which form of proverb do you prefer: Better late than never, or Better never than late?"
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), English author of Alice in Wonderland (published 1865)
So, you've finally resolved to write the belated thank you note that has been haunting you for weeks, months or even years. Well done! To help you along, here's a 4-step guide, sample wordings and complete examples to take you through the process of getting your note(s) written.
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If, after reading this, you still don't know how to write your late thank you note then get help Ask the Thank You Diva!

4 Steps to writing your late thank you note

Care should be taken to make overdue thank you notes especially gracious and well worded, in other to compensate for their lateness. Having said that, writing them is not difficult. Just follow these four steps:

Step 1: Excuse the lateness and express thanks

First of all, briefly excuse the lateness of your thank you note and express thanks at the same time. Resist the temptation to give a reason for the lateness of the note. A single sentence is fine for example:

I'm so very sorry for not having acknowledged the beautiful scarf you sent me several months ago.


Sincere apologies for the lateness of this note, however we want you to know how much we enjoyed the party back in September.

Other useful introductory sentences include:
  • A belated but heartfelt thank you for...
  • I'm truly sorry for being so late in thanking you for...
  • So sorry for the long silence I was delighted to receive...
  • Apologies that I have taken so long to get in touch to thank you for...
  • I am ashamed that this note is so very late, but I really want to thank you for...
  • A very tardy thank you for...
  • This note is horribly late, but we really were delighted with the...
  • My thanks for your kindness are well overdue, and I hope you'll forgive me the delay.
  • I'm very sorry that it has taken me so long to write to thank you for...
  • I know that this note has been very long in coming, but I want you to know how much I appreciate...
  • I am dismayed to realize that I never properly thanked you for...

Step 2: Describe your thoughts and reaction

As with any thank you note, focus on the gift, favor or kindness received describing your thoughts and reaction with one or two carefully worded sentences of appreciation. Make sure to be specific, mentioning the thing you are grateful for by name (rather than just referring to 'the gift' or 'your help'). Add an additional sentence or two about how much it meant to you, and describing any longer lasting effects (for example happy memories of an event, a gift that you regularly use or enjoy...).

  • The necklace is simply stunning and I love it. I already wore it with a deep purple dress to a friend's birthday and it garnered so many compliments.
  • You know how much I love my coffee, and the mugs are getting a whole lot of use. I resisted keeping them 'for best' because they are just so lovely that I want to use them every single day!
  • It was a great event, and I haven't laughed so much for ages. Certainly Alex's hilarious story about his trip to Paris will stay in my memory for a long time!

Step 3: Focus on the recipient

Keeping the focus on the recipient, enquire about how they are. Ask about their children, job, plans for the summer... You may also like to suggest that you get together on the phone or in person sometime soon.

  • I trust that you and Jim are keeping well, and I do hope we can get together again in the next month or two.
  • I hope things are good for you at work. It would be great to catch up over a coffee. Would next week work for you?
  • Hasn't the weather been beautiful recently! I guess you're making the most of it out in the garden. Are your roses blooming yet? I'll give you a call on the weekend, and look forward to talking to you then.

Step 4: Reiterate your thanks

Finally, finish up the note by reiterating your thanks, keeping it brief and sincere, for example:

  • Thank you again for all your help.
  • I have to repeat how much I love the vase thank you!
  • I am so grateful for everything you've done for us. God bless you.
  • You are a superstar! What would we do without you?
  • Many thanks for the beautiful gift.
  • Once again, it was so kind of you, and I do appreciate it.
  • I'm so touched that you thought of me, thank you.

Sample wordings for late thank you notes, letters & cards

Here are some complete belated thank you note examples that you may copy, use or adapt for your own personal use:

A long overdue thank you note for a gift

Dear Auntie Susan,

Thank you so much for the fantastic spa pamper set and I'm so sorry that it has taken me so long to get in touch.

The parcel arrived on the morning of my birthday and was a wonderful surprise. I especially love the bath crystals and the body lotion. You are so thoughtful a bit of pampering was just what I need in this chilly weather!

We're all fine here, and I hope you are too. Do you have plans for the holidays? It would be lovely to see you if you are able to fit in a trip over this way.

With lots of love,

A late note of thanks for a dinner party

Dear Mark and Michelle,

I do apologize for this very late note, but I want you to know how very much Matt and I enjoyed the wonderful dinner last month. A delicious meal (I'm still dreaming about your chocolate mousse!) and great company altogether a lovely evening.

I hope the new school term has got off to a good start, and that Michael is feeling better. Let's chat on the phone soon!

Thanks again and all the best,
Lily and Matt

Belated thanks for help in a crisis (broken down car)

Dear Kelly,

How very rude of me not to have contacted you weeks ago, I'm so sorry. I want to offer my sincere thanks for your wonderful help when my car broke down. Without your cheerful willingness to drive John and me to the hospital that afternoon there could have been serious consequences, and I am deeply grateful for your help.

You are a dear friend, and you really saved the day. Thank you so much.

Let's make time to get together again soon,

Very belated note of thanks for a Christmas present

Dear Emily,

I was sorting through my closet today, pulling out hats and scarves for fall, and when I found the beautiful mohair scarf you gave me I felt a huge wave of guilt because I'm pretty sure I never thanked you for it. I'm so sorry!

The scarf is gorgeous and exactly the colors I like to wear. It looks stunning with my brown wool coat and I know that I'll wear it a lot this fall and winter.

I really did mean to thank you ages ago, but I guess good intentions alone don't add up to much...

Anyway, a huge thank you for thinking of me and selecting such an awesome scarf!

All my love,

Sample for an extremely belated thank you letter for hospitality & friendship

Dear Christina & Joshua,

I've been feeling bad that we somehow never properly thanked you for our wonderful stay with your family last spring. I know we called when get got home, but I don't feel that was enough to express what a fantastic time we had with you all.

Chris and I were looking through our photos again last night, and we did so much and had so much fun together. You looked after us like royalty and we were so comfortable and well fed. So many fantastic memories it was a great trip!

So we're sending you a great big THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts for your WONDERFUL hospitality during our stay. Do come visit us, so we can return the favor!

Lots of love,
Ellie, Matthew & the kids

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