I enjoy writing thank you notes almost as much as I love receiving them. But sometimes it’s hard to think what to say or how to start. And if you’ve ever had to sit down and write a batch of them, it can feel a little daunting.

When I was helping my kids learn how to write these short but meaningful notes, I came up with an easy method for them to follow. Think about the word SMILE, as that is what you hope to elicit.

The SMILE Approach to Writing Thank You Notes

Thank you notes can be short and effective when you get personal and specific.

S Start with feelings

Start with how the person you are thanking made you feel. But do not say thank you yet.

Did your college friend send you a gift of a special art book? Did the book remind you of visiting the museum together? Did it remind you of the fun you had, the jokes you shared, the warmth and comfort of a long time friendship? Tell her that.

M Mention the gift

Mention what they gave you or did for you and why the gift or support mattered to you. Now say thank you.

Did your brother send you a box of special chocolates after you sprained your ankle? Tell him how delicious they were, how they took your mind off the pain and being stuck on the couch. Tell him the box made you feel his care and compassion. Say thank you or express gratitude in your own words.

I Include details

Include details of how you are enjoying or using the gift.

Your colleague gave you a book on how to grow your business. Tell her how the advice in Chapter Three on Mindset helped you get unstuck and get over your fear; that you feel so much positive energy and cannot wait to read the rest of the book.

L Lavish them with more detail or examples

Lavish them with another detail or a story that shows how the gift has made you feel or made your life better or easier or more fun or rich.

Did your grandmother give you a pin that her grandmother gave to her along with stories about what she admired about her grandmother. Share a story about how when you wear the pin you think of her, your grandma, and tell her what you admire about her.

E Express gratitude

End by expressing gratitude. This ending can be quite simple.

Thank you, or I am grateful for, or I love the ____ you gave me, thanks… all work.

Thank you notes are underrated, but when thoughtfully written, they are sure to bring a smile to the recipient. Who do you need to thank today?

Want more help with writing letters? Check out my free e-Book, 5 Easy Steps to Writing a Great Thank You Note. You’ll learn a simple, satisfying process that you can use again and again to share gratitude for gifts and kind acts with the special people in your life