Saying "thank you" for a good meal is more than just polite. A study by Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino, cited on the World of Psychology website by writer Jeremy Dean, proves that hearing the words "thank you" encourages people to offer more favours. Not only will you feel better about expressing your gratitude, but you'll encourage further helpful behaviour by letting your hosts know that their efforts are appreciated. Give your thank-you maximum impact by throwing in some extra effort and expressing your emotions honestly.
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Address the recipient personally in the opening of your handwritten thank you note or card. For example: "Dear Aunt Cathy." Don't e-mail or text your appreciation. According to Today Show guest Elizabeth Mayhew, these methods of communication are about quickness and convenience, not about taking your time and getting personal. A handwritten card just seems more thoughtful.
Describe the time and nature of the event in your initial thank-you statement. For example: "Thank you for hosting such a lovely Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday evening." This simple sentence reminds the recipient about the event and alerts them immediately to the purpose of your note.
Add a particularly memorable detail about the meal so you can make your thanks feel more sincere and specific. For example, if you remember really enjoying dessert, you might write: "Everything was delicious, but everyone here agreed that the pumpkin pie was the best they'd ever had - how did you do it?"
Mention how you enjoyed the host's company as well as the delicious food. If you really enjoyed the gathering and want to make get-togethers more frequent, write that in your note: "The kids had fun playing with Sally and Bobby, and Frank and I really enjoyed the conversation. We should really get together more often!"
Invite the host over for a meal at your home sometime. If you're not sure about invitation specifics yet, it's OK to be general. For example: "We really appreciate all the time it must have taken to put everything together. Next time we do this, your family will have to come here. We'll do the cooking, and you can sit back and relax."
Call the person later once you decide on a date and time for your own dinner or lunch event. If not much time has passed since you were over at the host's home, you can express your thanks again while offering an invitation: "Frank and I really enjoyed having dinner with you last week. We were wondering if you'd feel like doing it again next weekend, this time at our place."
Tips and warnings
- While specifics make your card more meaningful, don't get too over-the-top and flowery. Focus on one detail of the event that you want to emphasise. If you launch into long descriptions, your card will seem like its more about showing off than thanking your host.
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