Joining Rue Daily today is Courtney Khail,  a watercolor artist and stationery designer living in Denver, Colorado. You can see more of her work, read her blog, or purchase her artwork here. Courtney has previously shared with us tips for addressing envelopes

The blank note card. A seemingly innocent piece of folded paper that can make even the most organized people succumb to procrastination and worry. A pile of wedding gifts you need to thank people for? A friend who let you stay at her house the last time you were in town? Of course you’ll write those! Just as soon as you organize the junk drawer. And clean the basement. And color coordinate your closet.

Well, fear not, friends. Follow these simple steps and before you know it you’ll be accepting the award for “world’s greatest thank you note writer.” Just kidding. That’s not a real award. But you may just get a phone call from your grandmother saying how much your note made her day and that’s pretty much the same thing.

1. Get Stationery. Trust me, this is not the time to channel Elizabeth Bennett and opt for a letter sized piece of ivory paper. You’ll finish thanking the person in the top third of the paper and then be left trying to fill up the space. Instead, go for a note card. With all of the options available (might I suggest a watercolor one?) I’m positive you can find one that fits your personality perfectly.

2. Grab your pen. Stick to black or blue ink (I’m partial to black ink because I think it looks luxurious and clean.) Don’t forget to check the ink to make sure you have enough so you won’t be faced with the awkward “pen swap” halfway through your note.

3. Address the Recipient. Start with “Dear” and then follow it up with what you would call the person if they came over to your house. If you call you dad’s best friend “Uncle So and So” this is not the time to call him by his formal name. It will just come off as insincere and stuffy.

4. Thank them for the gift. Get to the point. There is no reason to say “I’m writing to say thank you” because of course you are!  Instead, jump right in. If the gift was an object, state the object (i.e.” thank you so much for the teapot!”)  If they gifted you money, a gift card, etc. say“thank you so much for your generosity.” (And if it’s above and beyond what would ever be expected, add a sentence that says their gift is greatly appreciated.)

5.  Let them know how you will use it. This is your chance to get personal. Did you receive a vase that you can’t wait to put your favorite flowers in? Well then tell them that! Even the most utilitarian gifts can sound amazing here. Example: “Thank you so much for the wooden spoon! I can’t wait to use it to make my mom’s famous chicken noodle soup.” If it’s money, you can stretch the truth some. Sure it’s going to groceries, but instead tell them about an amazing olive oil you’ve been dying to try or a new lipstick you treated yourself to. They wanted to give you a gift, not toilet paper.

But what if you don’t prefer the gift or can’t think of anything to use it for? No problem. First, remember it’s the thought that counts! Next, point out something you do like about it. Maybe it’s the color, or that it reminds you of the giver, or just how unique it is. Example: “Thank you so much for the marble bust of Mozart! One of our first dates was to a classical concert and this brings back such great memories of that day.” Whatever you do though, do.not.lie. Never say “I can’t wait to put this on the mantle!” if it’s not going on the mantle because I promise they will look for it the next time they visit. (Or even worse, they’ll think you absolutely adore it and buy you a marble bust of Bach next time.)

6. Reference the past and look forward to the future. Example: “It was so wonderful to see you at my birthday party. I hope to see you again at the New Year’s Eve bash.” If it’s from someone you haven’t seen in a while and you’re not sure when you’ll see them in the future, simple send them warm wishes. Example: “I hope you are doing well and that we get to catch up in person sometime soon!”

7. Wrap it up! This is a simple thank you note so there is no need to talk about personal news.  You want to keep the focus on their generosity. A simple sign off is most appropriate here. “Love,” “Warmly,” or even an upbeat “Thanks again!” fit perfectly. Then just sign your name, seal it in an envelope (don’t forget the stamp!) and drop it in the mail.

See? Now there is absolutely no reason to fear the thank you note.