Christmas is over, the anti-climactic New Year's Eve has mercifully passed and we now face the year ready for a new chapter in our lives. For Britain, 2012 looks to be a non-stop, high-octane barrel of excitement, celebration and pomp. First, we have Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee, to which I am very much looking forward. And then we'll have the Olympics.
If you are looking to make a fresh start and right a past wrong then why not start with reviewing your policy on thank you letters. An alarming majority of people now eschew sending written thanks to their nearest and dearest who have spent their hard earned money on presents. Some will half-heartedly try to express their thanks by sending a thank you text or email. I can't imagine doing such a thing. I am coming out in hives as I write. That said, I suppose they are better than nothing.
I am certain that one of the main reasons for the decline in thank you letter writing is that people simply don't know how to start. This will most likely be down to parents failing to enforce the writing of such letters from an early age.
My parents always told me that I would never receive presents if I didn't thank gift givers. Being a shallow, materialistic child this was an unbearable prospect and so, sometimes battling against a mirage of unwillingness, I duly wrote them. Now, I find them no effort whatsoever and it takes me about two minutes per letter and thirty seconds per envelope.
Here are my tips for writing perfect and gratitude-filled thank you letters.
- Keep a list of who gave you what as you open presents on the day as this will make sure you don't forget anyone or who gave you what
- Use good quality writing paper (never 'notepaper') with matching envelopes
- For social correspondence writing paper can be around A5 size
- Stick to blue or black ink from a fountain pen to write
- Write your address at the top if the writing paper has no pre-printed letterhead
- Avoid starting the letter (after 'Dear X') with the words 'thank you'. This is not a solecism but from a stylistic point of view it can seem a tad prosaic. Opt for something like, 'It was very nice of you to buy me the Le Creuset serving dish...' But don't forget to actually say thank you within the letter!
- For Christmas, send out letters as soon after the event as possible when a normal postal service resumes but no later than two weeks. That said, a later thank you letter is better than none at all. Or a text!