Leadership: This gift-giving season, show thanks with a handwritten note

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

Kathie Rotz. PHOTO CREDIT: TH file

When I graduated from high school, I remember receiving two gifts: Cash and a beautifully wrapped box. I received this same wrapped gift at my wedding reception and my kids’ baby showers.

What was inside this mysterious present? Blank thank you notes. The giver (my mom) even included names and addresses of people who gave me gifts. I was expected to show appreciation for the generosity to our friends and family by handwriting a thank you note.

When was the last time you received a handwritten thank you note? When was the last time you wrote a thank you note?

I do not remember the last time I hand-wrote a card. It might have been 22 years ago, after the birth of my daughter.

Thank you notes have changed in the past decades. I remember the first time I received a computer-generated picture thank you card for a wedding gift that I gave. The bride and groom chose a fun wedding picture and printed “Thank you for your gift and for celebrating with us!” on the back. My first reaction was, “That’s cheating.” But then, I realized that I liked the card. It was creative and efficient.

A few weeks ago, I was a proud mom when I found out that my daughter texted Grandma and Grandpa her appreciation for the coupons and monetary gifts that she received in the mail from them. I never gave my daughter a box of blank thank you notes for graduation, but somehow, I did teach her to show her appreciation.

I am not suggesting that all thank you notes should be handwritten; however, I am proposing that all gifts deserve a thank you.

Here are four reasons why I need to be a more grateful receiver:


Sending a thank you note tells the giver that you received their gift. There is nothing more awkward for a giver than to ask a recipient if they received anything in the mail from you recently.


A handwritten note makes you memorable. Human resource consultants recommend sending a thank you card after an interview for this exact reason.


Showing gratitude creates a healthy brain. According to PositivePsychology.com, gratitude brings happiness, releases toxic emotions, reduces pain, aids in stress regulation and reduces anxiety and depression. It seems much easier to me to write a thank you note every day rather than take some pills.


It is a meaningful way to give back to the giver. Sometimes, we are overwhelmed with gratitude and we want to give back. All we have to offer are our words. Creating a homemade thank you note speaks to the receiver that you took time out of your busy day to think of them and thank them.

When I met my sister-in-law, Daiany, for the first time, I learned that she is an artist. Before she left, she drew me an adorable card with a puppy on the front and beautiful calligraphy handwriting inside. I have the card on my desk. It is a piece of Daiany. I think of her and smile every time I look at it.

Keeping handwritten notes in a safe place is common. You will find that employees keep notes from their boss. Children keep handwritten mementos from their grandparents. I have even seen tattoos of loved one’s handwriting. The gift of our scribbles is considered art by the receiver.

During this upcoming gift-giving season, give the gift of a handwritten note to show a higher level of gratitude and love.

Kathie Rotz is a leadership consultant and John Maxwell certified speaker, trainer and coach with Unity Consulting in Dubuque.

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