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How to write a thank you note in 4 easy steps (with lots of samples and wording ideas)

"While I struggled to write a thank-you note from last Christmas on my kitchen counter, every time I opened a paper, someone had launched another million-dollar dot com from hers."
Quote from Work by Cathy Guisewite

They are dreaded, put off and procrastinated over, but thank you notes and messages are not difficult to write! Simply follow these four easy steps for word-perfect thank yous of all kinds.

The 4 basic steps to write a thank you note

Step 1:

Address the recipient by name and say thank you, being specific with what you are thanking them for. For example:

Dear Louisa,

Thank you so much for the gorgeous white orchid.

Note: there is no need to write 'I am writing to thank you...'. That is self-evident, and a rather stiff way to begin your thank you note. Much better to plunge straight in by expressing your thanks and appreciation, for example:

  • I do so appreciate...
  • It was wonderful to receive...
  • Thank you very much indeed for...
  • My sincere thanks for...
  • Many thanks for...
  • Your help in facilitating the meeting on Monday was invaluable...
  • The chocolates are scrumptious thank you so much!

Step 2:

Continue by describing your feelings about the gift, event, favor, kindness or service done. One sentence will do, but two or three are better (don't overdo it though, or you'll start to sound insincere). For example:

As you are well aware, I'm not known for my green fingers, but I'm putting special effort into looking after this beautiful plant (the instructions you wrote out are really helpful thank you!), and so far it's going great. It has pride of place on the bookcase by the sofa and looks fabulous.

Step 3:

Focus on the recipient. How are they? How is work or school? Any plans for the summer / holiday season? You may also like to suggest a meet up (in person or by phone) in the near future.

How was your weekend? Did you meet up with Nick and Amy? I hope I can join you next time I'll give you a call later in the week to arrange things.

Step 4:

Finally, repeat your thanks and appreciation with a brief sentence, and sign off.

Thank you again for picking out such a lovely house-warming gift.

Love always,

4 Steps to a more formal thank you note

To thank someone in a more formal manner, follow the same 4 steps, but with a focus in step 3 on how you might repay someone or assist them in the future. For example:

Step 1:

Greeting and specific thanks:

Dear Mr Dale,

I truly appreciate the excellent service provided by you and your staff on Tuesday.

Step 2:

A description of why you are grateful and your feelings about the gift/service etc.:

As you know, the clients I was entertaining are extremely important to our company, and it was crucial that they felt valued and well looked after during their visit to Chicago. I can honestly say that our meal at the Plaza Restaurant surpassed all expectations. My clients were extremely complimentary about both the lunch and the service, and the whole event was a great success.

Step 3:

Put the focus on the recipient and/or state how you see the relationship progressing (be it a recommendation or further booking etc.):

I shall certainly be bringing more clients to the Plaza in the future, and I will be recommending my colleagues do the same.

Step 4:

Reiterate your gratitude and sign off:

Thank you again for a superb event,

With kind regards,
Charles Shaw
Chief Executive

More thank you note examples following these 4 easy steps

Thanking someone for inviting you to an event

1 Say thank you

Dear Josh,

I so enjoyed joining you and your friends for the Cirque de Soleil show on Wednesday.

2 Describe your feelings

It was so kind of you to invite me, especially as I have wanted to see a Cirque de Soleil show for years and years, ever since I was a kid. The show was fantastic, and I especially loved the music. I'm so happy that I was able to buy the CD to remind me of a great evening.

3 Focus on the recipient

I hope your meeting went well on Thursday, and that you were able to get your presentation ready in time. Did you get the response you were hoping for?

4 Repeat your thanks

Thanks again it was a night I'm going to remember for a long time.

See you again soon,

Thanking someone for doing you a favor or kindness

1 Say thank you

Dear Nicole,

It was wonderful of you to rush over at the last minute on Saturday night to look after the children for us. We were in such a panic when the babysitter cancelled on us I don't know what we would have done without you!

2 Describe your feelings

John and I had so been looking forward to the golf club dinner and we would have been terribly disappointed to have had to cancel. It was so very kind of you to give up your evening for us. I know the children loved having you here and especially enjoyed the bedtime stories you read them.

3 Focus on the recipient

If we can ever help you out in a similar situation, don't hesitate to ask us. We feel very much in your debt and would love to be able to do something for you.

4 Repeat your thanks

Thank you again Nicole, you are very much appreciated!

With our best wishes,
Rosa, Mike and the children

Thanking someone for a gift

1 Say thank you

Dear Gran and Grandpa,

Thank you so much for the check you are so generous and I'm just thrilled!

2 Describe your feelings

It's given my 'new car' fund a massive boost and I'm looking forward to coming over to visit you real soon to show off my new vehicle and take you for a trip to the lake.

3 Focus on the recipient

Remember that little cabin we stayed in one summer years ago? Wouldn't it be great to see it again! I'll let you know as soon as I have 'my wheels' and we'll fix a date to do the trip.

4 Repeat your thanks

I'm so excited thank you again for making my dream possible.

Keep well, love you both!