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When (and Why) to Write a Thank-You Note

closeup of fountain pen writing thank you on textured paper
zieusin/Shutterstock

There are many circumstances when thank-you notes are called for. If you’re not sure when you should send a thank-you note or just say thanks, here are some times when a thank you note should be your choice.

After You Get Married

If people gave you gifts for your nuptials, you need to send them thank-you notes. The rules of wedding etiquette say you need to mail those thank yous within three months of saying “I do.”

When writing a thank-you note for a wedding gift, mention the gift in the note. This shows the giver that you truly are thankful for their thoughtfulness. You may also want to consider sending a note of thanks to people that attended the wedding without giving a gift. Let them know their presence was appreciated.

When it comes to how you say thank you, if you went with modern technology to invite people to your wedding, then an email is fine. However, if you sent traditional invites in the mail, you should also send cards the old-fashioned way.

After You Get Gifts from a Baby Shower or Bridal Shower

When you receive gifts at a baby shower or bridal shower, you should send thank-you cards within two weeks of getting the gift. Again, include a note about the specific gift and what you liked about it.

To make writing your thank-you notes easier, keep track of gifts as you open them. Write down who the gift is from and what they gave to you. After you open a few packages, you’ll quickly forget which item is from which person. When you’re opening gifts during the event, enlist a friend or family member to keep track of your gifts in a notebook.

After Getting Housewarming Gifts

When you have a housewarming party, it’s customary for people to bring a gift. Keep track of what guests give you so that you can send them a thank-you card.

Just like in the previous cases, mention the gift in your note. If you got a gift card, maybe mention what you purchased with it. If you were given a bottle of wine, tell them you enjoyed it (or if you haven’t popped the cork, tell them what special occasion you’re saving it for).

After a Job Interview

At one time, it was customary to send a thank-you note to a potential employer after you interviewed with them. This is a habit that people have been coming back to again. Why say thank you for an interview?

  • You Show Continued Interest: When a potential employer receives a thank-you note from you, it tells them that you were actually interested in the position.
  • Makes You Stand Out: Not every one that interviews for a position will send a thank-you note. The fact that you did will make you stand out.
  • Gives You a Chance to Remind Them About Your Qualifications: You can use this thank-you note as a way to reiterate some things from the interview, like your previous experience and what you’ll bring to the position.
  • Shows Them You Know How to Communicate: Not only will you express your ability to communicate in writing, it will show your potential employer that communication is important to you.

After Someone Does Something Nice for You

No matter the reason or the gesture, when someone you know does something kind for you, consider sending them a thank-you note. Whether they helped you with a bill you were behind on, came over to paint a room with you, or helped you load your groceries into the house, a thank-you card will tell them their assistance was appreciated and give them a chance to feel good about the small gesture on their part.

Since this isn’t one of those times when society thinks you’re required to send a formal thank you, you can send a note via email or even text. However, the time put into crafting a handwritten note says a lot to the recipient.

Just Because

You don’t need a reason at all to send a thank-you note—online or through the mail—to a friend or family member. Make someone’s day by saying “Thank you for being in my life,” or “Thank you for being a good friend.” Sometimes it’s easy to get busy with life and forget to show appreciation to those that are a part of it.


The key is to not think of thank-you notes as a vintage custom. Think of it as both a common courtesy and a valuable way to express your gratitude for the people in your life.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow has been a professional writer for almost two decades. Yvonne has worked for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and much more as a writer and editor. She's also a published poet and a short story writer. Read Full Bio »

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