I'd love to say thanks... but how?

Some of the most common questions I hear revolve around the art of writing thank you notes. When to write them? How to write them? How to make them memorable? Almost any handwritten note will get attention in today's world of email, texts and instant messaging -- so the key is to leave a lasting impression. A well-written thank you note is easy to craft in just three steps:

1. Say thanks for the gift. (Ok, this sounds silly, but so many people get stuck on just the first sentence. Try starting with "I was so pleased to..." or "It was so thoughtful of you to..." or "What a nice surprise to receive..." Use words that have an impact, like "fabulous" or "amazing" in your description of the gift. Think back to how you felt at the moment you received it, and convey those emotions.)

2. Mention how youĂ­re going to use the gift. (This shows that the gift was well-chosen, which is one of the best ways to say thanks. Does the new sweater bring out the color of your eyes? Or does the picture frame complement the rest of your living room decor?)

3. Add a compliment to the giver. (Something like, "you have wonderful taste..." or "I'm so grateful to have you in my life..." Think about the person who gave you the gift - what was she thinking when she selected this gift for you? What does she mean to you?)

Remember, your thank you note doesn't need to be long -- a paragraph or two is plenty. A well-written thank you note is gracious, specific, prompt, succinct and personal. Let your personality shine through your words. Be conversational and authentic. And yes, you should send your thank you note as soon as possible after you've received the gift. (Newlyweds: this means you, too! More on wedding etiquette in future blog posts...)

Don't forget that it helps to have a dedicated area to write notes. If you've already got a desk, set aside some space for your personal stationery, favorite pen and address book. Buy a roll of stamps and keep them nearby -- you'd be surprised at how many people write notes but never send them because they don't have a stamp! And while I'm on this topic... Thanks so much for taking the time to read this blog post. I'm so happy you're browsing the Paper Trails web site and hope you found the tips to be helpful. We are constantly investing in ways to reach out to our customers, and we're grateful that you've found us. (How's that for an impromptu thank you?) /Katie