Writing Thank You Cards

Fewer and fewer occasions seem to require hand-written cards, the ones where you actually write in the content instead of signing on to the sentiments already contained in the card. Graduation is one of those, and writing thank you cards for graduation can be one of the many acts that signal a transition to adult responsibility.
As a recent graduate, you are coming from a series of events that are all about you, and thank you cards are an abrupt reminder that whatever you accomplished and what you do in the future really does involve others. Writing focused on others can be a challenge in any situation, but with gifts coming from distant relatives and parents’ friends, the call to write for others can be awkward. The same situation will arise when you have to write thank you letters after job interviews, so this is good practice.
The first step is writing something personal. This can be simple: I’m so glad you were able to come to my graduation party and celebrate with our family. It can also be more involved: My parents have told stories about growing up with you, so I was very excited to be able to meet you in person. I know they were happy to see you, too.
The second step is the actual thank you. Particularly with gifts of money, this can feel awkward. The simplest solution is to say thank you for the money and tell what it will be used for, as in: Thank you for the gift of money. It will really help me to pay for books my first semester in college. For a gift item, expressing gratitude can be general: Thank you for the iHome. As always, more specific writing is better, though: Thank you for the iHome. I will definitely need the alarm clock to make it to my 8 a.m. class.
Personal gifts call for a more intimate sounding thank you: Thank you so much for the beautiful gold pendant. It will be a constant reminder to me of your generosity and support as I pursue my dreams.
Even though thank you cards are relatively small, the task of filling them can be daunting. After the personal greeting and the thank you, if there is room, you can fill in with the type of newsy detail that any letter would contain. If you write really big, though, you might manage to fill the card with the basics and a signature. Either way, expressing your appreciation and building personal relationships should be the goal.

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