Most of our mail is a casual affair these days with email and text messaging taking over the day-to-day communications. While I see the practical side of things like email invitations and online RSVP cards, I just can’t help but think how cool it is to get something other than bills and junk mail in the mailbox on any given day. Thank you cards might just be the last vestige of hope when it comes to retaining the beauty that is the hand-written card, so let’s go over some best practices.
1. Thank yous are easier to write the closer to the event.
This goes along with the idea that almost anything is easier to do if we just get started–putting it off never made it any easier. While I won’t go so far as to suggest you take your thank you cards on your honeymoon (though some industrious brides have done just that), setting time aside just after your bridal shower is certainly not a bad idea. If you’ve got a few waiting-room sessions in your future (the DMV, Social Security, and other name-change offices) bring the cards along and be productive when and where you can. This might be one of the reasons etiquette dictates 2-3 months as an acceptable timeline for getting those cards out.
2. A thank you is more personal if it’s handwritten.
Which usually means that the partner with the best handwriting gets the task. While it’s fine to have a sweet sentiment printed inside the card you choose or design, make sure there’s still room for a nice note somewhere on the card.
3. To make it easier to get the cards written, keep all the supplies in one (portable) place.
Cards, envelopes, a couple of pens (in case one runs out), stamps, and any envelope seals or stickers that you’re using can easily fit into a cigar box or other small enclosure. Decorate it if it makes you feel better, but keeping your act together will make the whole process much more enjoyable.
And a happy writer is a productive writer!
4. Be formal where necessary, be familiar when possible.
When you start your card with Dear So-and-so, the way you address the giver depends on your relationship. Your husband’s boss’s wife whom you’ve only just met at the engagement part? Mrs. Bossman is probably the way to go. But that family friend that you’ve always referred to as Uncle Bob (even if there’s no blood or marriage relation in place), go ahead and start with Dear Uncle Bob, since that’s the way you’d address them in person.
5. Keep things simple, but make it personal.
A thank you note can easily be just three lines
- The initial thank-you stating the event you saw them at and/or the gift they gave you.
- A short sentence about how you think you’ll use the gift.
- The repeat of thanks to close the note with sincerity.
So, really, a thank you card could read
Dear Aunt Jo,
It was wonderful of you to make the trip out to the coast for our wedding. The place setting and glassware will look lovely on our holiday table. Thank you for always being there for us kids,
Pete and Josie
Of course, you can always include something sweet that happened at the event and anything else you want, but that depends mostly on how many cards you have to write and how much time you’re willing to spend on them.
Cash gifts require a bit more creativity, but a message like “thank you for your generous gift, it will certainly come in handy while we get settled into our new home” will certainly get the point across. If you’ve gone the honeymoon registry path, telling them about the trip is another way to word a thank-you.
Alright, now, no excuses!