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Thank-you notes still a welcome touch

A handwritten note is the most personal way to say “thank you” during the holidays, whether it’s for a cashmere scarf or a Sunday night dinner.

“Writing thank-you notes is an important skill, one that you should teach your children even before they can write,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based author and the founder of www.etiquetteexpert.com. “I can’t tell you how many e-mails I get from grandparents who are upset with their grandchildren, or with their children for not teaching their grandchildren to write thank-you notes. These grandparents lavish the kids with toys and money and don’t even get a phone call in return.”

“You can write the note as a parent and they can sign their name,” she says. A proper note should always mention the gift.

“Thank you so much for the lovely dinner you prepared,” Whitmore offers as a suggestion. “It was especially nice getting to meet your daughter and spend time with your family. We appreciate your hospitality.”

But don’t be too effusive, cautions Cooper Ray, founder of www.socialprimer.com. “People can see through that.”

How long is too long to wait to write?

“A note sent later is better than no note sent at all,” Whitmore says. “In a perfect world, you’d get the note out in 24 to 48 hours. During the holidays, I would suggest within two weeks or the month.”

With kids, try handmade cards. “They can be done on a colorful piece of construction paper with crayons or markers,” she says. “Then, as you get older and more savvy and sophisticated, you might want to purchase stationery with your name embossed on it. Nothing says class like beautiful original, personalized stationery.”

-- Booth Moore


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