How To

By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein

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“Bless you”; “You can have my seat”; “Here’s your change, Miss”; “Excuse me, but I think you dropped your wallet”. These phrases are usually, if not always, followed by two simple but powerful words: Thank you. But what about all those instances when you forget to say thank you? Maybe you thought it was “understood.” He is, after all, your boyfriend and he should pay the check, right? She is, after all, your mom, and she should stock your pantry with Costco-sized cereal boxes from the burbs, right? Sorry to say, but even unconditional love needs to be acknowledged once in a while, and not just on birthdays and Hallmark holidays). What better time to start saying thank you than during the month devoted to giving thanks? Here are a few ways to get started.

Contemporary Coupons:
The modern day coupon book is a practical variation on the homemade one I used to make when I was young; around holidays, I’d create coupon books made out of construction paper for my parents, with promises to wash the dishes, do the laundry, walk the dog, and clean the car. When I was a bit older, I’d give boyfriends similar books but of a more kinky nature, of course. But what about saying thank you by giving real coupon books filled with gift certificates that can actually be redeemed?

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Include gift certificates from FreshDirect (www.freshdirect.com) with a note saying, “Who says I never cook?” or one from The Laundry Spa (www.laundryspa.com) with a note, “For when your laundry needs some airing out”. For pet owners, get a gift certificate to Sandy’s Doggie and Kitty Spa on East 92nd Street (212-410-2150) and enclose a note that says, “For when you got your paws full.”

Want to say thank you to someone who likes to dance? Add a dance flex card from 92nd Street Y (www.92ndstreety.org) or give the aspiring knitter some lessons at The Lion and the Lamb (www.lionandlambshop.com). Hundreds of ideas can be found at Gift Certificates (www.giftcertificates.com), from movie tickets (www.amctheatres.com) to spa treatments (www.spafinder.com). Your modern day coupon book is sure to say thank you more months to come.

Say it with Stationary:
The thank you note is a required piece of cardstock with your name thermographed on it. People expect this requisite acknowledgement of their gift – you can even use a guidebook to write one, such as The Art of Thank You by Connie Leas (www.amazon.com).

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But why reserve notes for post-holidays or special occasions when there are plenty of times to be thankful, like after a great phone call with your best friend? What about one addressed to your partner referencing a private joke; your note might read, “Thanks for making me smile today.”

FineStationary.com (www.finestationary.com) offers several different reputable brands of stationary to choose from, as does Kate’s Paperie (www.katespaperie.com). In the age of email, there’s nothing better than seeing a piece of handwritten mail on sophisticated stationary, amid the pile of bills that appear daily, especially when you least expect it.

The Power of Personalization:
I was given the popular name of Stephanie because my mom feared if she didn’t, I’d be traumatized for life when I arrived at Disney World, and found there were no mini-license plate key chains with my name on it. People love receiving a personalized gift, be it a nameplate necklace, engraved toasting flutes, or a picture frame. It shows the time and thought put into gift giving. Thanks to creative minds and science, everyone can have a personalized trinket. But, you can get personal without displaying an actual name, and still give a personal gift that says more than a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, or a box of chocolates. At Erwin Pearl (www.erwinpearl.com) you’ll find all sorts of beautiful costume jewelry (that’d you’ll think is real!) as well the perfect accessories for any pet owner.

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Go to your nearest Kinko’s (www.kinkos.com) and get your boyfriend’s emails and romantic letters to you bound into a book. While you’re at Kate’s Paperie or Papyrus (www.papyrusonline.com), buy a fabric scrapbook and fill it with pictures and memorabilia from your childhood. A photobox from Bombay (www.bombaycompany.com) filled with pictures from your senior spring break works just as well.

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Take advantage of your husband’s passion for baseball and look for appropriate gifts on eBay (www.ebay.com). Or, take a trip to Pearl Paint (www.pearlpaint.com) and get your artistic mother a set of oil paints, a canvas, and an easel. Finally, take advantage of your office job and utilize software like imovie, iDVD, Ofoto (www.ofoto.com), or My Publisher (www.mypublisher.com) to create priceless gifts.

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You don’t have to spend your savings to show your appreciation. Filling a pretty jar with sand from the beach where your partner proposed or decorating your roommate’s bathroom mirror with post-it notes, each with a different sentiment of appreciation, are two ways to give a creative thank you. Or, look for small beauty knick-knacks at Spabox, where you can join the lip balm- or bath soak-of-the-month club at Spabox (www.spabox.com). Through this website, you can also purchase the artist Lisa Chun’s creation, “99 Reasons for Living”.

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This chocolate color origami box is filled with pink vellum paper with inspiring sentiments like “Because you have learned to open your heart to someone” or “Because the moon sits outside your window.” Proceeds will go to the Susan G. Komen Foundation to fund breast cancer research.

Saying thank you is as easy as dragging your best friend from her apartment and taking her out to an impromptu dinner at Dos Caminos (www.brguestrestaurants.com). Thank your body for keeping its energy up every day by treating it to a desert hot stone massage at Elizabeth Arden’s Red Door Salon (www.RedDoorSalon.com). But when all is said and done, saying thank you is as easy as looking someone straight in the eyes and uttering those two words, in a way assures you they’ve been heard.

Originally published November 2005
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