Pictured above: Graduation Caps Folded Notes from Expressionery.com.
Graduation season is quickly approaching and while you might be dreaming of tossing out your pen and papers, think again. Along with the graduation ceremony come graduation parties, and along with graduation parties come graduation gifts, and along with graduation gifts come THANK YOU NOTES!
In our technology-infused society, the handwritten thank you note is becoming more rare. The good news about this is, that makes it really easy to leave a good impression on your friends and family when you write one! You never know when that may come in handy later!
I graduated from college and got married all in the same week. (In case you needed further proof that I can multitask!) Because of this, I received some especially generous wedding gifts from my church family, who had all known my family for many years. I took my time and wrote out each thank you by hand on cards that I had designed myself.
I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I found out later that one of the ladies had pulled my mother aside to tell her how much she appreciated the card. Not only had I written the note by hand, I’d told her what I was going to use her generous gift card for – new clothes. This made her feel that I truly appreciated the gift.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn here – there’s a reason I’m telling you all this. Not long after graduation, I found myself needing a reference for a job I was applying for. Being a new graduate, I didn’t have many people who could do that for me. But as soon as I put the word out, that lady’s husband (who had known my family for years, but didn’t know me all that well) wrote one of the best letters of recommendation I have ever received. I still carry his recommendation on my LinkedIn profile.
Writing your graduation thank you notes
Don’t feel pressured or worried that you’re going to say the wrong thing. As long as you write honestly and from the heart, there’s really no wrong way to write a thank you note. I probably only spent two minutes writing and addressing that one card, but as they say, it’s the thought that counts.
- Monogram thank you cards from Expressionery.com
- Crystal gel pens from Etsy.com
- Address stamp from PSA Essentials
First, pick out a set of cards that suit your style. There’s no rule that says graduation thank you’s have to be formal – it’s all up to you. If you’re not the type to design your own cards, you can still get a custom look with personalized thank you notes.
Print your name or a simple “Thank you” message on the front of anything from formal embossed cards to casual, cartoon-style illustrations. You might even want to get a couple of different sets and send more formal notes to certain relatives and more casual notes to your friends. (Just don’t make the mistake of pre-printing the thank you message that goes inside – taking the time to write your cards by hand will mean so much more.)
Now that you’ve got your notecards, grab a few pens. Gel pens are great because they don’t skip like those cheap pens you wrote your term paper with. Black is the most formal color; others like blue, green and burgundy can add a more warm or casual feel. Choose based on your own style and how you want the recipient to feel when they open the envelope.
Graduation thank you note wording
And now, for thank you note etiquette 101. Just kidding – there are only a few things you need to keep in mind.
- The greeting – “Dear” is often a good word – it’s polite, yet friendly.
- The message – Thank the person for coming to your party and/or graduation, if they attended. They took time out of their busy schedule to be there and support you. Then, mention the gift (even if you didn’t really like it) and thank them for it. Never say you’re going to return or exchange it. If you received money or gift cards, tell them what you plan to use the money for. (Just don’t tell them if you blew it on an Xbox 360.) If you can’t think of much to say about the gift itself, talk about your summer plans – how you can’t wait to start your summer job or start your college classes.
- The closing – this is where you have a lot of freedom. If you want your note to feel formal, “Sincerely” is a classic. For a more casual tone, you can try “Thanks again,” for relatives you can use “With love” or for a really formal (business contact style) tone you could use “Best regards.”
Graduation thank you card examples
Here are a few examples to get you started:
To a teacher:
Dear Ms. Williams,
I can’t believe I’m graduating! I am so excited, and I wanted to take a moment to tell you how much I have appreciated your help over the past few years. You’ve been so patient, and you inspired me to decide upon a communications major.
Thank you for coming to my party and for all your words of wisdom over the years. I will always remember you as one of my best teachers.
To a friend:
Wow, I can’t believe graduation is finally here. It feels like just yesterday we were freshmen! I wanted to thank you for your friendship over the years and let you know how much I’m going to miss you.
Thank you for coming to my party. You really didn’t have to get me a gift – your friendship is enough! – but I am so excited to put the beautiful lamp you got me in my new room. It will remind me of you every time I turn it on.
To a relative:
Dear Uncle Joe and Aunt Susan,
Thank you for flying all the way from San Diego for my graduation! It was great having you there. Thank you, too, for the generous gift. I was going to take my old backpack on my trip this summer, but now I can get a new one with wheels and the works. It should make traveling much more comfortable!
Sending your notes
And now for the last step – actually sending the cards! It’s easiest to address each envelope as you write your notes – that way, you don’t end up putting the wrong card in the wrong envelope. Then, stamp or stick your return address on the back flap – this saves a ton of time and makes the envelope look nicer too. Finally, put on a stamp and stick a batch in the mailbox.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to write all your thank you notes in one sitting, or even mail them all out together. It’s often easier to send out a batch here and there until you have them all done. Just keep a running list of all the cards you need to write so you don’t forget whether or not you sent someone’s card!
And now that you’ve completed thank you note writing 101 … it’s time for a pop quiz! Just kidding. Toss that cap in the air (but keep your stationery close by). It’s time to celebrate!