If you happen to be in the company of your gift giver, a verbal thank you is all that is required of you. A follow-up thank you note is a very gracious gesture of thanks, but by no means necessary.
Try to send the thank you note as soon as you can, especially if you received the gift by mail so the sender knows that you did in fact receive it. Make sure to address the note to whoever signed your gift’s card, and always mention the gift specifically. If you’re thanking someone for an event such as a dinner party, address it to the host and possibly anyone else that might have helped with the occasion.
There is never a wrong way to write a gift card, just remember to speak genuinely from the heart. Taking the time to write your note by hand, especially in the age of emails and cell phones, really adds a special touch. You don’t need to write an essay—keep it brief and to the point.
If you’ve sent a gift to someone who is ill, possibly a patient in the hospital, proper etiquette dictates that a thank you card from them isn’t necessary until they are well enough to write one, for obvious reasons.
The phrase “better late than never” certainly applies to thank you cards. While you really should send one as soon as possible, a nice note or letter is appreciated at any time. In fact, you probably have a few people you should be thanking right now, don’t you think?