8th-grade graduate needs to write thank-yous

Q. My granddaughter just finished 8th grade. She will attend a prestigious girls school in St. Louis this fall and I want her to develop great manners for the future. I do not believe email “thank-you’s” are polite. She was told by her 8th-grade teacher she did not need to send thank-you cards for the nice gifts she received. Most of those gifts were from my friends who have watched her grow. The gifts included as much as $50. I do not care if the gifts were nickels, “thanks” is always appropriate and I want her to hear this from an expert.

A. Thank you for your question and comments. Like you, I disagree with the guidance provided by your granddaughter’s 8th-grade teacher.

A handwritten thank-you note is always the most appropriate form of thank you for any gift one might receive, regardless of the value of the gift. Even if the recipient has the opportunity to provide a verbal thank-you to the giver at the time one receives the gift, a handwritten thank-you note should follow.

Although modern technology provides us the wherewithal to email, text and message others, a handwritten thank-you note is always most appropriate.

The thank-you note should not be a mere: “Thank you for the graduation gift” to each person. The note should be personal, with thought given to the gift and each recipient. It is not necessary, nor appropriate, to mention the specific amount of money given.

Here are some examples:

To a family friend: “Dear Mr and Mrs. Smith, Thank you so much for the money you gave me for my graduation from (name of school). I will be using it to help pay for books for my first year at (name of school). It was wonderful to have you be a part of my graduation activities and I’m excited about this coming year in my new school. Sincerely, Jane Doe”

To a relative: “Dear Grandma and Grandpa, It meant so much to me that you were able to come to my graduation from (name of school). Thank you for the money you gave me. I’ll be saving it to use for books and other expenses for my first year at (name of school). I am so lucky to have you as grandparents and I love you very much. Sincerely, Jane”

Thank-you notes should be written as soon as possible after receiving the gift. The penmanship on the outside of the envelope as well as the note, should be one’s absolute best. An ink pen, rather than a pencil, should be used to write both.

The card itself can be a fold-over type note card with a pre-printed “Thank You” on the front, or any type stationery, preferably white, but a soft color is also permissible. The envelope should match the color of the stationery or card. The envelope should include a return address on the upper left hand corner.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to