How to Write a Gift Note

Posted by on September 6, 2012

When should you include a card with a gift? What should it say? Is a store-bought card sufficient?

Unless you are in a situation where your recipient will know that the gift is from you, such as a casual birthday lunch or a dinner for two, a gift requires some sort of tag or card so that the recipient will know who to thank. Self-adhesive “to/from” labels suffice at Christmas, but remember to use a small gift card, a note card with a personal message, or a store-bought card appropriate for the occasion when giving a gift any other time of the year.

I think many people default to a pre-written, store-bought card because they’re not sure what to say, and they’ll hunt for the card that says just the right thing. And that is fine for most occasions. But even with a store-bought card, it’s nice to include a little personal message. A good rule of thumb is to mention the recipient by name; remark about something you cherish, remember or enjoy about him or her; and if appropriate, include a little something about the gift and why you chose it for the recipient. Here’s an example:

Lauren – Thank you for being such an amazing friend! For your birthday, I was inspired by our trip to the Caribbean last year. When I saw the enclosed I immediately thought of you – bright, fun and sparkling! Enjoy! Love, Deanne

Including a personal message on the gift card is an ideal way to make the gift that much more special. For my 21st birthday, my Aunt Lillian had my great-grandmother’s coral beads (which were her great-grandmother’s beads) re-strung with my grandmother’s pearls. Tucked into the box was a handwritten note from my aunt explaining the history of the coral beads, reminding me that I am the seventh generation to wear them. It’s more than 20 years later and I still keep the note with the necklace, and I’ll pass it on to my niece when I go.

If you’re still unsure of what to say or how to say it, there are several resources to help, including Lifetime Encyclopedia of Letters and Crane’s Blue Book of Stationery, each available on