By B.J. Swafford

Education Connection - BJ Swafford photo

As a mother, we have a desire to rear the “perfect” child. Is this possible? All we can do is TRY. Teaching them manners is one of our most important tasks. After all, manners keep us civilized.

Mothers today have so many responsibilities that often times we do not take time to teach our children good manners—which include among many things, table graces, telephone manners, how to write a proper thank you note, proper introductions, and how to select a proper stationery wardrobe.

I realize most young people really do want to make a good impression and therefore knowing how to act and react in a social situation will help them as they face the real world. Knowing good manners sets them apart from ones who have not been given basic etiquette knowledge.

As an etiquette teacher, I find knowing how to write a proper thank you note is a point of etiquette we might revisit. We notice this lack of manners when we send wedding gifts, graduation gifts, baby gifts, and birthday gifts, and we wait and wait and no note is forthcoming. It always seems strange to me that one would send an invitation with the expectation of receiving a gift, and then not take the time to thank the person that has certainly taken time to select a special gift for the occasion. I find it even stranger to see the person and they do not even verbally thank you. So, here we go—everything you need to know in to order to write a proper note.

Proper stationery is a must. You may choose a blank thank you note called an informal or you may have your name placed on the front of the note. You should never use stationery with THANK YOU on the front of the note as this is considered in poor taste. Your starting point in writing your note is at the top fold of your note. Please use black or blue ink.

The lady of the home is considered the social secretary of the family; therefore, the salutation of your note would begin, “Dear Mrs.” Or if you are on a first name basis, you use her first name.

Your first sentence would say; “Thank you and Mr. (or his first name)” for (gift description). If family were included on gift card then you would include their names after Mr.

Try to make a personal comment to the family. When they receive your note they will know you put some thought and care into writing your note.

Take time in writing your closing to be creative. Most brides and graduates say, “Thank you for remembering me during this special time in my life.” You may say the same thing, but express it in a different way such as: “It is such an exciting time for me; I appreciate your thoughtfulness and kindness.” Everyone receiving your note will recognize your effort in making your notes charming and personal.

The stationery you have chosen will determine how you will sign your name on your note. You will sign your notes with your first and last name when you do not have your full name on your stationery. You want to make sure that the giver knows exactly who has written the note.

The last point of etiquette for a properly written note is to date it on the bottom left hand corner of the note. The date may be written in a number of ways, as they are all correct.

Use this formula for thanking the next person who gives you a gift or favor and you will put a smile on their face. Remember, you should write a note even though you may have opened the gift in front of the giver.

With a smile on my face, I say you do not have to write me a thank you note; just thank editor, Marilyn Tinnin.

My book, What to Do ‘till “I DO,” is a complete guide for you for many other etiquette points.

B. J. Swafford, Certified Consultant, of Everyday Etiquette can contacted at

Pro-Life Mississippi