How to Say “Thank You”? Christmas Edition

December 27, 2012    |    By +
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So many people ask me, “what’s the proper way to thank someone for a gift?” During the holidays you actually have it pretty easy, so don’t panic.

Handwritten thank you notes are the very best way to show appreciation for a gift. But in this day and age many of us don’t have the time, stationery, or stamps to post individual cards in the mail whenever we receive a gift. But, remember that these generous people in our lives who take the time to select, purchase, and send gifts to us deserve a little something in return. Whether you like the gifts you get or not, here are some tips on how to be a gracious recipient.

If the traditional thank you card via the good old USPS isn’t going to happen for you, there are some fabulous alternatives like Paperless Post and eVite that offer the feeling of a beautiful thank you card arriving in the mail without any of the fuss. I love that you can choose your envelope liner, write a personal message, and select a card that reflects your personal style. I also love the realistic experience of opening the envelope on the receiving end.

Another often overlooked, but one of the best ways, to say “thank you” is with a simple phone call. People don’t talk on the phone like they used to because emails are so easy. So, calling to say, “thank you” is a gift in return! That’s easy enough, right? Your call will be hugely appreciated even if you can only chat for a couple of minutes or have to leave an enthusiastic message on their voice mail or answering machine. I guarantee you will make their day.

Emails and texts are generally not acceptable ways of saying “thank you” because of their impersonal nature. We tend to be quick to dash off a text and go on our merry way thinking that things are taken care of. But, more thought than that went in to the gift giving process and the “gifter” deserves more recognition. That goes double for posting it on a social network like Twitter or Facebook. It can be nice to post things in these places but it is not an acceptable form of “thank you”.

Is there any nice way of returning a gift or letting someone know you might be exchanging it?

If someone gives you a gift receipt, they have given you a go-ahead to exchange the gift. But, whether they give you a receipt or not, you should let them know that you are returning their gift by saying something like, “It was so nice of you to get me “X”, but I really need/want “X” so I think I’m going to exchange it. I couldn’t have gotten it without your help. Thank you!”

You don’t want to exchange a gift, not tell the person who gave it to you, and always want to tell them when you see them and are wearing or using the thing you exchanged their original gift for. That is too painful, and you are missing out on a chance for sharing joy with someone you care about. The long term effect of telling that you exchanged their gift is worth the initial awkward conversation. Trust me! And, if you can’t stand the thought of doing that over the phone…break out the Thank You cards and pop it in the mail.

The holidays are no time for thank you giftsBecause so many gifts are exchanged at this one time of year, no one is expecting a gift in return. A simple note or phone call is all it takes to keep your relationships happy.


Happy holidays!

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Meet the Gurus

Kathryn D.W.
Kathryn Drury Wagner is the senior manager of content at She was formerly the executive editor at Honolulu Magazine, and is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Shopping on Oahu. Her career has included staff positions at Country Living Gardener and Power & Motoryacht. Her latest book is "Hawaii's Strangest, Ickiest, Wildest Book Ever!"

Gwen P.
Gwen is the Editorial Curator at In addition to writing blogs, she creates gift guides, curates the site, and produces content for our social media channels. As a freelance writer, she created blogs on fashion, art, travel, health and lifestyle. A talented jewelry designer, she's also a yogi and a hospital volunteer with her therapy dog, Lilo, a Pomeranian.