The noun “etiquette” describes the requirements of behaviors according to conventions of society. It includes the proper conduct that is established by a community for various occasions, including ceremonies, court, formal events and everyday life. ~ Robin Bickerstaff Glover
Australian Glib Book of Etiquette is a very slim volume. ~ Paul Theroux
When last we spoke about etiquette, I gave you some tips on what to take (and not to take) to a dinner party to which you were invited. I received a G/glib follow-up question via email: What does one take when one is crashing a dinner party to which one was not invited.
Really? That would be the height of bad manners and an appalling breach of etiquette. But, if you must behave thus, and the dinner party you are crashing is mine, may I introduce you to my event security detail? You might recognize him as a PROMINENT FOREST LAWYER.
Now, let’s move on to Lesson Two of Glib Finishing School: writing an excellent thank you note.
You attended a most interesting and enjoyable dinner party; the food was terrific, the drinks top-notch, the mix of guests brilliant, and the conversation fascinating. You were pleased to have made a very favorable impression on the entire gathering.
At the end of the evening, the hostess walked you to the door and thanked you for joining the group.
What do you do?
A) Thank your hostess as you are leaving and call it good
B) Phone your hostess the following week to say thanks
C) Send a thank you email or text as soon as you get home
D) Handwrite a thoughtful thank you note and mail it
E) Text “Oops, my bad” from the county lockup
Thinking back to our mission of using etiquette and impeccable manners as a means of creating a favorable impression in the minds of those with whom we interact, your course of action should be clear.
By all means, thank your hostess in person as you are departing the event, but do not neglect to send a handwritten thank you note, preferably mailed within the next two days.
Just as sending a thank you note for a job interview makes one stand out favorably to the interviewer, you will enhance your reputation as a person of class with the hostess by the same action.
Anatomy of an excellent thank you note
I’ll focus on our dinner party example, but the same principles apply to any thank you note.
- Handwritten notes are best. If you feel your penmanship is not what it should be, aside from practicing and improving it, the best course of action is to slow down when writing. Think about each letter as you form it and you’ll see a marked improvement.
- Write your note on nice stationery or a note card, not a plain piece of printer paper or college-ruled paper you’ve ripped out of your child’s school notebook. Use a fine-tip pen. Unless you are Picasso and are including a sketch, pen looks nicer than pencil.
- Use greetings and closings appropriate to your relationship with the recipient.
- Mention what you particularly enjoyed about the event. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. (Unless you’re a dick. Don’t be a dick.)
- Close with a reiteration of thanks.
Thank you so much for inviting me to your fun dinner party Saturday night. I had a great time!
The gathering was a wonderful reminder of how sharing delicious food and warm laughter around a lovely table always brings people together. I enjoyed meeting your friends who were visiting from Los Angeles–I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much.
I really appreciate your thoughtfulness in including me.
You may be on intimate terms with the hostess, but that is no reason to decide not to send a thank you note! Everyone appreciates receiving a sincere thank you when they’ve gone to effort to create an event. Why not take the opportunity to foster warm feelings in your close friends and family members? You can make the world a little bit better one note at a time.