Updated on 12.18.06

Post-Christmas Thank You Notes: How To Have Good Manners and Look Creative With Little Expense

Trent Hamm

My family is starting a tradition of writing thank you notes for all gifts received. We’ve received thank you notes from others after giving gifts and we’ve really appreciated the level of courteousness that these notes have represented and has increased our respect for the note-sender. It’s simply a courteous thing to do, and it’s a great way to cement bonds between acquaintances.

There are two problems with this. One, thank you cards are boring. The front says “Thank you” and the inside contains a seemingly generic note that merely says “Thank you for the gift. I will treasure it always.” They’re dull and unimaginative. Two, thank you cards that look classy or distinctive can be really expensive. Take a look around a stationery shop and you’ll quickly notice that the attractive cards are more expensive than the unattractive ones.

So what’s a penny pincher with manners supposed to do? We want to have good manners and send out thank you notes, but we don’t want to send out drab ones – but those cute ones are expensive!

Here’s what I do for my thank you notes that creates strong visual appeal, looks creative, and most importantly, saves money.

Save a piece of wrapping paper or packaging from the gift. For example, if I receive a book, I’ll fold up the wrapping paper and slip it inside the book. In other instances, such as the Moleskine journal I received already as an early gift, I saved part of the packaging – this is generally preferred. I’ll often use a pen to note for sure who gave me that gift.

Get cheap, blank white cards and a glue stick. When you go to buy thank you cards, look for the least expensive ones available, preferably ones that are just completely blank and white. Quite often, you can find better deals on these by avoiding the Hallmark-type store and looking for office supplies. Also, pick up a cheap glue stick – these have many uses, so it’s a good addition to your “junk” drawer.

Use the packaging to spell out the letters “THANK YOU” Take that packaging and cut out big block letters that say “THANK YOU”. Make them large enough so that the packaging is recognizable, but small enough so that all of the letters can be affixed to the front of the card. Arrange the letters how you like, then glue them down to the front of the card with the glue stick.

Write the note. Thank you notes are often boring, so don’t be afraid to liven it up a little. Here’s a great how-to on writing a good note. I often make sure to make it very clear how I’m already using the item, usually in an interesting way.

Drop it in the mail. Easy as pie! When they open the card, observant recipients will note that the design on the front was homemade – and often will notice that it’s made from part of their item’s packaging, indicating to them that you have opened and are using their gift. The note inside is just the cherry on top.

This technique results in thank you cards that are interesting enough that people remember them later, but also are significantly less expensive than the “stylish” Hallmark cards.

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  1. Jeff says:

    Oh, man… that is WAY too much work. If you’ve got a small family (or a lot of time), that might work. I figure you’re looking at about 15 minutes a card, conservatively. I’ve got, at a minimum, 10 to send out. That’s 150 minutes. Too long. I completely understand and appreciate Thank You cards, and maybe this makes me a jerk, but I can’t justify that. I’d rather call each person individually. But then again, what’s wrong with saying thanks when you open the present (assuming you’re with the person who gave it to you)? Is a Thank You card really necessary then — after all, I’ve already said thanks, and meant it. And if it’s an expected thing, doesn’t it lose some value anyway?

  2. HC says:

    This is creative, but honestly, Miss Manners and your wallet will be happier if you just order some informal (non-folding) note cards. Buying a batch of 50 can run as little as 50 cents a card, even with personalization.

    I am sometimes willing to shell out money for Crane & Co., because the cards are SO nice, but there are plenty of other printers that will do a batch of cards for much less. And they don’t have the “thank you” on the front. If the note is written well, then that label is redundant (and in some people’s view, also tacky).

  3. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    You can do this with plain note cards as well, using one side for the lettering and the other for your note.

  4. Susan says:

    You can buy packages of very nice blank cards or Thank You cards at dollar stores, and the dollar sections at Target, & Michael’s. There are usually 8 cards per pkg, sometimes more.

    You can also recycle greeting cards by cutting off the front (if there’s no writing on the inside front) and using it as a postcard – postage is cheaper, too!

  5. rodgerlvu says:

    thanks. you are the most intelligent person i ever met…

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