There’s no way around it. Writing a massive number of thank you notes is a chore. It’s also probably your first experience with one of the rituals of adult life, so put in the effort and prove to the world your parents raised you right. It’s time-consuming, but it’s not all that hard. And we’re here to show you how to write graduation thank you cards.
You’ll start receiving cards and gifts before your party, and it’s not a bad idea to write thank you cards as you receive them, so buy them a few weeks ahead.
Use a notebook or special journal to record who sent the gift and the gift itself. This inventory will keep you from thanking uncle Bill for the briefcase aunt Meg gave you. Do not trust your memory. Check off the names as your write each thank you. When your dad asks if you sent a thank you to his high school buddy, you can show him you did. Update the list as the cards and gifts arrive, and find a shoebox or something to keep the cards, in their envelopes, together in one place.
Keep track of who was at your graduation or open house. Take note of who helped at the party – you’ve already thanked them in person, but you still need to send a written thank you.
Make sure you have the correct address for everyone on your list. You’ll have the list you used to address the invitations or announcements, but there will be some you need to track down. It’s ok to text or email asking for their mailing address, and to let them know why you need it. They may say you don’t have to send a thank you. Send it anyway. Because adulting.
Complete your list, including
- Everyone who sent a gift.
- Everyone who sent a card, even if it didn’t contain a gift.
- Everyone who attended your graduation ceremony or party.
- Everyone who contributed to your party — from the person who handled the buffet table to the neighbor who let you use their crock pot. You’ve already said thank you in person, but they still deserve a written thank you.
- Anyone else you want to thank. Don’t be shy. If there were people who inspired or encouraged you or helped you keep going when things were tough, now is an excellent time to let them know. It could be a teacher, coach, mentor – even a sibling or best friend.
- Your parents. I’m serious. Write a thank you. Mail it. Trust me on this.
Etiquette is a big part of learning how to write graduation thank you cards. Proper etiquette gives you three months to finish the job but sooner is always better.
Start by making a plan. Don’t try to write them all in one sitting. Set aside an hour each day and write as many as you can, or commit to writing four or five a day.
Next, gather your thank you notes and envelopes, seals, stamps, pens, address book (electronic or otherwise), guest book from the party, opened cards and anything else you need. Keep everything together until the last thank you is sent.
Now, start writing. Thank you notes have a sort-of formula. First, greet the person, mention the gift, then talk about why you like it or how you’ll use it. Make it as personal as you can, say thank you again, and you’re done. You can make it short – three to five sentences is plenty. Be yourself, and write as if you were saying thank you in person.
Making it personal can be challenging, especially if you don’t know someone well, but don’t stress too much. Here is where your prep work can pay off.
If they attended your grad party, you could say:
- “I’m so glad you could come to celebrate with me.”
- “It was fun meeting some of mom’s friends from work. Thank you for coming to the party.”
You can also:
- Talk about how funny, pretty or inspiring the card is, or mention something they wrote in it.
- If someone helped at or loaned you something for the party, mention how grateful you are for their contribution to your big day.
- If they sent money, mentioning if it was cash, check or a gift card shows you were paying attention. It’s not necessary to note the amount.
- Remember, people appreciate being recognized for their efforts. Even if it’s normal for your family to pitch in, your aunt Meg deserves a shout-out for stopping by the bakery on the way over to pick up the cake!
Mailing thank you notes as you write them will ensure none of them fall behind the desk or get lost in a pile of papers on the counter.
One final tip. Every gift is generous. Even if it’s a gift that makes you wonder if Aunt Meg knows you at all. Even if the amount is less than what most others are giving. Even if it’s just a card with a few kind words. They made an effort, and now it’s your turn to return the favor with some words of appreciation.