From Neil Armstrong thanking the team of engineers who kept him alive during the moon landing, to John Lennon thanking the Smothers Brothers for not hitting him for showing up drunk at their club (and heckling them during their act); being able to write a classy thank you letter is a crucial life skill.
A life skill, we might add, that the venerable Winston Churchill, had mastered. And it’s not just important if you’re famous: the skill evident in this 1945 “thank you letter” masterclass applies to far more than your annual Christmas thank you note to your long lost aunt.
Whether it’s to get yourself out of a jam (or into a party), you don’t have to be an old fashioned soul to enjoy putting pen to paper: thank-you letters are useful for job interview follow-ups, acquaintances who’ve helped you find a job (or hooked you up with a networking contact), colleagues who have covered for you while you were sick, or anyone who has gone out of their way to help you at short notice.
These actions deserve more than an Instagram #shoutout. But the question remains? If writing a thank you letter is a dying art, how does one come up with something that doesn’t sound like a social media #sponsored post? With practice—and this guide.
And who better to turn to than the best? Here’s how to write a thank you letter with meaning, demonstrated by one of the classiest men in history: Sir Winston Churchill.
To start with: address the person (or group) you are thanking appropriately. Remember: nothing screams insincere louder than getting someone’s name (or title) wrong. As you can see from Churchill’s admirable letter he wrote to IWC after they made him a watch, he plays it cool (but respectful), addressing the group as “gentlemen.”
Next he acknowledges what they have done for him, “I have now received the very fine gold watch which you have so kindly given me for my 70th birthday.” This is followed by an earnest expression of gratitude: “I ask you to accept my warmest and most sincere thanks.”
Finally, he offers a personal explanation of what the gift means to him: “I should like you to know how much I value the goodwill which you have shown in subscribing to this handsome and carefully chosen present as well as the trouble you have taken in having it so beautifully inscribed.”
“Yours very faithfully, Winston Churchill.”
Class. Pure class.