I'm obsessed with thank you notes and always have been. A handwritten note will take you far, but a handwritten thank you note will take you further.
I write thank you notes all the time. If you come to a dinner I had at my house, if you came to my baby shower, if you interviewed me for a job, if we've worked together on a brand campaign - I send you a thank you card. It's something that was instilled in me at a young age and I've never shaken it. In situations where I might've not been the best, it has gotten me further than my talent has.
When it comes to writing notes (I apply the same strategy for relationship building emails) I always use the person's first name (versus ma'am or sir, it's not 1950 and the last thing I want to do is make someone feel old) and I do the appropriate research to make sure their name is spelled right. The easiest way to put a bad taste in someone's mouth is by spelling their name wrong.
The really important part of a thank you note is to SPECIFY exactly why you're thanking them. For their time, for their work, for a gift...usually time is a solid reason to thank anyone. The time they took out to do ANYTHING for you - interview you, attend your event, eat your meal, etc. should be thanked always.
As far as stationery is concerned, I always end up finding really cute options at TJ Maxx, Target (especially in their clearance section) or art/paper stores like Sam Flax here in Atlanta. Beautiful paper products have always tickled my fancy, so when I see something I like, I usually buy it. It always ends up being used in some capacity. I can usually always find a reason to thank someone, so they always come up handy.
Ideal situations to send a handwritten thank you card:
+ after being interviewed for a job or internship
+ to someone who has visited your home for a dinner gathering (birthday, holiday, etc.)
+ for receiving a gift
+ to someone you really admire for their work inspiring you
+ for a helping out (especially if last minute)
As I grow my personal and professional relationships, I'll be sending out a lot more handwritten thank you notes in the coming months.
Who's the last person you sent a handwritten thank you card to?