Guest Blog: The APE to Writing Your Thank You Note

Jules Kendall PhotographThe APE to Writing Your Thank You Note

by Julieta Kendall

I don’t think there is a person among us who hasn’t quietly whimpered after staring at a pile of presents and their corresponding, blank thank you cards.  There is just something so daunting about concisely acknowledging someone’s generosity without sounding like a fill-in-the-blank form letter.  Well, it’s time to buck up, folks!  The holiday season is fast approaching, and since this is when most of us find ourselves laden with the generosity of family, friends, and colleagues, there is no better time than the present to hone your letter writing skills. 

The easiest way to get the thank-you-note-writing-monkey off your back is by using the mnemonic, APE.  This little gem stands for Acknowledge, Personalize, and Extend and is the key to writing thank you notes that receive thank you notes.  Each letter can be it’s own paragraph, so it has the bonus effect of keeping you organized.  Let’s run through an example and see how easy it is to use, shall we?

THE GIFT

My Aunt Vivian purchased for my first-born son a turquoise sweat suit bright enough to burn the cones and rods in my retinas.  This sweat suit was, perhaps, not anything I would ever buy to dress my child, but it was a thoughtful gift nonetheless.  Here is my thank you note to her using the APE method.

ACKNOWLEDGE

This is simple and requires almost zero brainpower.  All you need to do is acknowledge in the first sentence of your note the gift in some detail.  No, “Thank you for the gift” isn’t good enough.  Work your pen a few more strokes and add the detail so that your Aunt Vivian knows you care. Ready?  Here we go:

Dear Aunt Vivian,Thank you so much for the turquoise sweat suit.

See?  That was harmless and brainless.  I didn’t even have to lie about loving that fluorescent little number.

PERSONALIZE

Take the opportunity to write a sentence or two about the gift, making sure to mention something personal about you and/or the gift giver.  This is what makes an average thank- you note great.  Don’t worry.  You don’t need a rapier wit or Pulitzer Prize to pull this off.  In fact, the best tip I can give is to just be you.  Write as if you are speaking to the person.  Your note will show genuine appreciation for the thought that went into the gift, which is what you want.  How did I write something personal, yet nice, about a turquoise sweat suit I didn’t exactly love?  Like this:

I will think of you every time M wears it.  How could I not?  The is such a reflection of your bright and happy personality.  I’ll be thrilled if the baby is half as fun as you! 

Note that I was being sincere.  My Aunt Vivian has fiery red hair and a personality to match.  Everyone who meets her comments on her happy-go-lucky personality, so I’m wasn’t being facetious in the least.  That’s important to note, because if you’re not sincere you’re going to come off like a smarmy chump. 

EXTEND  [+ Conclusion]

Your second to last line of a thank-you note should be invitation to the gift-giver to see their gift in action.  You can be specific or vague; the idea is to let the person know you appreciate their thoughtfulness and will be using their gift.  This can be tricky for larger scale events like a wedding, but for most gift occasions it works nicely.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, you can always conclude after your personalization with a general line like, “Thanks again for the lovely sweat suit.”  Here is an invitation using my beloved turquoise sweat suit:

The tag says 0-3 months, so have your bags packed and ready to visit us once little M is here.  M’s baby book wouldn’t be complete without a picture of you holding him while he’s wearing his new outfit!

Much love,

Jules   

YOU’RE DONE! 

Now that wasn’t so bad, right?  Imagine how easy it would be if you actually liked the gift!  I can only imagine, now that you know APE, you are waiting with baited breath for the opportunity to write a thank-you note.  Oh all right, maybe not.  But hey, at least the thought of writing out thank-you notes no longer leaves you slumped in the corner crying softly into your cupped hands. 

Dear Aunt Vivian,Thank you so much for the turquoise sweat suit.

I will think of you every time Michael wears it.  How could I not?  The color is such a reflection of your bright and happy personality.  I’ll be thrilled if the baby is half as fun as you! 

The tag says 0-3 months, so have your bags packed and ready to visit us once little Michael is here.  Michael’s baby book wouldn’t be complete without a picture of you holding him while he’s wearing his new outfit!    

Much love,

Jules   

About the Author – Julieta is the owner of The Poem Company, a tiny, little writing studio in southern California that specializes in custom invitation wording and greeting cards verses.  She writes voraciously and considers reading as important as breathing.  Julieta occasionally flips through the dictionary for fun and finds the rules of grammar exciting, which explains her popularity in high school immensely.  

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