When you think of the holiday season, what comes to mind? For me, it’s togetherness, family, gratitude, gifts and thank-you notes. Yes, that’s right, I said thank-you notes. 

Expressing gratitude is an important leadership tool. It’s an important relationship tool. When a person takes the time to sit down and write a note of appreciation for a gesture or gift, the bonds of that relationship are strengthened. People want/need to feel valid, important and respected. The expression of your appreciation for the kindness/generosity of another shows them you care. Sharing your thoughts in your own handwriting, taking the time to sit down and write down your thoughts on paper, rather than sending something digitally (text, email, social media post) increases that feeling of appreciation. Why? A verbal thank-you is good but takes very little effort. A hand written thank-you note requires that you sit down and carve time out of your busy schedule to put your thoughts down on paper and let someone know that you really appreciate them. 

So, what does it take to write a thank you note? What do you need? 1. A paper product. 2. A pen. 3. Time. 4. Sincerity.

Let’s first discuss a paper product and pen. Any card or piece of paper is fine. I like thank you cards with a pretty pattern on them. We use a standard inexpensive card that says, “thank you” on the front when our kids write thank you notes to volunteers, or for gifts and fair sponsorships. Our youngest child is not old enough to read or write yet, but it is important that he understands the value of a thank you note, so he draws a picture. He gives me the words (sometimes with a few prompting questions) and I write a short and gracious note to go along with his picture. When I’m writing a note of thanks, I use a standard pen. My younger children use crayons, markers, pencil or whatever they want to make the note more personal.

Time. This seems to be one of the hardest items to come by. We’re all busy, I get it. When we have a lot of thank-yous to write, we make a list. We sit down and write a few thank-yous then, take a break. We always come back to it later until the task is done.

Sincerity. A thank-you note needs to be more than, “Dear Aunt Doris, thank you for the Christmas sweater. I like it. Love, ________.” Thank you notes should be written when you really mean them and should be sincere even when the thanks you are writing are out of necessity. It is important to really mean what you say. Thank the person not only for the gift or gesture but also for the thought and consideration that was put into it. 

Thank you’s aren’t only for tangible gifts. Thank you’s are for showing someone you value their opinion, their friendship, their leadership, their time. Thank-yous are for expressing gratitude for a multitude of things. Use them freely, use them widely. Others will appreciate your gesture. Having a tangible, hand-written note instead of a text or email which is quickly deleted gives them something to look back on later.

For more information, to join, or to volunteer your time, contact the Cowley County Extension Office (620) 221-5450, (620) 441-4565.


Kelsey Nordyke is the 4-H Youth Development Agent at K-State Research and Extension, Cowley County. She can be reached at (620) 221-5450 or (620) 441-4565.

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