With the holidays in full swing, presents are bountiful and gratitude is (or should be) abundant. Here are a few tips on how to express thanks this holiday season.
Say “Thank You”
This may seem like an obvious way to express gratitude, but sometimes in the flurry of the moment it can be forgotten. Make a point to look the giver in the eye and actually say “thank you”. Squealing isn’t necessary, but go ahead and carry on a bit. Even if it is a small gift or one you don’t like, let the giver know how much it means they thought of you.
If the gift is something that you don’t think you’ll enjoy, try not to compensate by going over the top exclaiming that you’ll use it every single day for the next 12 years – exaggerating is a giveaway that your words may not be truthful. Instead put the focus on the giver: “Thank you so much for thinking of me! That really means a lot. Thank you.”
Write a Thank-You Note
To write an effective thank-you note, it’s important to note what the gratitude is for. As the gifts pile up from family, coworkers and friends, it can be hard to remember who gave what when it is time to sit down and say thank you in writing. Keep a notebook nearby when opening presents during the Christmas holiday and write down a brief description of gifts under the name of the giver. For example: Uncle Jim: red purse and movie ticket gift certificate.
This way, it’s easier to clearly identify what the thank-you note is for. To say “Thank you so much for your gift, it meant so much.” is fine but it excludes a personal note. Remember, these folks put time and thought into the present, so put some time and thought into the note.
Try something like “Thank you so much for the red purse, I can’t wait to wear it to work! Rob and I will really enjoy those movie tickets, we already have a date night planned around using them.”
In addition to saying thanks for gifts, include a relational note in the letter such as “It was so good to see you this Christmas, good luck with your new job!” to communicate a relational connection beyond gifts. It shows the giver you care about them and what is going on in their life.
Say Thank You Quickly
Try to write and give the thank-you note within one week of receiving the gift. For the Christmas onslaught of gifts, try to write them the same day. Take 20 minutes while the rest of the family is in a turkey stupor and sit down to write the notes. This way, the feeling of gratitude is still lingering from the day and it’s easier to focus on what needs to be said.
It also makes it easier to give thank-you notes if you write them while the giver is still around. Writing the best note for Uncle Jim is not as effective if tracking down his address falls prey to procrastination and he does not receive it until March.
That being said, a thank you note in March is better than no thank you note at all.
Say It In Writing – Literally
These days of technology make communicating quicker, but can also leave out the sincerity of the message. Writing a thank-you note in longhand says more than just words. It shows the recipient you took the time to buy or make a thank-you note, sat down and thoughtfully wrote words of thanks (no delete button with pen and paper!). Additionally, many people will save physical cards including a note of thanks or love whereas few print out and save stacks of e-mails.
Handwriting and delivering a thank-you note also ensures the receiver got the note. It may be shocking, but some (like grandma?) don’t check their e-mail every 10 minutes. An e-mail or e-card could get lost in a list of spam mail or other internet debris.
Good luck and happy writing!