My Dear Mrs. Charlton,

Both Howard and I deeply appreciate the exquisite compote you and Mr. Charlton were good enough to send us. Accept our sincere thanks both for the gift and your generous good wishes.

Very sincerely,

- from The Etiquette of Letter Writing, copyright 1927, Eaton, Crane and Pike Co.


Social correspondence was much more common in the last century and writing a note to express gratitude was something people did so frequently that it was second nature. This is less of a daily practice now and sitting down now to write a thank you note (or a stack of thank you notes) can be daunting. As in the above note, it only takes a couple sentences to warmly thank someone for a gift or a kind service. Here is a simple formula to help you begin:

  • First, mention the specific gift or experience for which you are thankful
  • Next, express how you will use the gift or how the experience helped you or made you feel:
  • Finally, add a closing sentence that is more personal.

For example:

Thank you for the elegant serving tray. We look forward to using it when we entertain in our new home. We hope you and David will visit when you are in town next month.


Thank you for hosting my family last weekend. You made us feel so welcome and it was wonderful to catch up. We look forward to having you stay with us over the holidays!

 As also stated well in The Etiquette of Letter Writing, “In our hurried days graciousness is all too rare, but its rarity gives it increased importance and makes it doubly welcome”.