How to Say Thank You for an Unexpected Gift

Receiving an unexpected gift is like receiving the message that someone was thinking of you. Below, we’ll take a look at how to say thank you for an unexpected gift. 

Writing a Thank You

In the age of technology, it’s much quicker to send a text or phone call to express your gratitude. However, writing a thank you note is much more personal. It’s the perfect way to say thank you for an unexpected gift, especially if you take the time to personalize it. But what do you say in a thank you note? Here are some things to think about. 

The Greeting

You can start the greeting however you would normally address the person. For example, you might use Mr. or Mrs. for your boss, but just a “hi!”, “hey!”, or even the person’s first name if you are close with them. It’s best not to overthink this part. 

After the greeting, you’ll want to introduce your message. You could do something like, “I’m writing to say thank you for…” or “I hope that you’re doing well!” 

The Message

Next, it’s important to clearly communicate your appreciation for the gift. Instead of just saying thank you, it’s also helpful to mention something that you love about the gift. Some good details that might personalize the message include what you were doing when you received the gift and how it made you feel, especially if it brightened your day. You could also comment on the gift wrap if you liked it. Another way to communicate your thanks is to address the gift itself and what it meant to you, particularly what you loved the most about it. 

Once you’ve talked about the gift, you could also express your appreciation for the person. In a professional setting, you might say something like, “Thanks for being a great boss/coworker!” or “I love working with you!” For people you’re closer to, you could tell them you love them (if you mean) or that you really appreciate them being part of your life. 

Finally, wrap things up. Say thank you one more time. You could also close with an “I love you” or an “I appreciate you” if you’re thanking someone close to you. 

Wrapping it Up

 You wrap up a thank you note just like you would a letter. If you are close with the person, you might wrap it up with “Love” or “Your Friend”. More professional communications might be wrapped up with “Best” or “Sincerely”. 

Deciding How to Send the Thank You

At one time, it was considered the best etiquette to send a physical thank you note via mail or hand-delivering it. Of course, as people have shifted more and more toward electronic communication like text and e-mail, it’s also become proper to send a thank you via these methods.

When to Say Thank You by Email/Text

There are a lot of reasons that you might send a thank you by email or text instead of writing it out. For people worried they’ll get busy and forget to write out a thank you, it’s a good way to make sure they don’t forget.

It’s also good for people that you might not be super close with. For example, it is appropriate to thank a coworker or boss through email for a gift. It fast-tracks communication in the workplace and it’s a good choice since you may not know where to send a handwritten thank you. 

When to Send a Thank You Note

Thank you notes are just a really nice gesture. It’s like taking an extra step to say thank you that clearly communicates that you care. This is especially true since handwritten notes are usually mailed, so you’re close enough to the person to know their address. 

Thank you notes are also great for when more than one person was the recipient of the gift (like couples or families). While one person can write out the thank you note, everyone can sign it. This ensures that the gift giver knows everyone appreciated the gift, and it’s easier than asking everyone to send out their own personal thank you email or text. 

They are also a great choice for older relatives, who might not like responding via e-mail or text. If you can’t send a handwritten note, consider sending a card or giving them a phone call. 

When to Say Thank You in Person

In some cases, it’s even best to give a verbal thanks. This is especially true if you receive an unexpected gift from someone that lives in your immediate household. 

The bottom line is that it’s entirely up to you how you send the thank you. It’s much more important that you focus on things like the message you send and sending the thank you in a timely manner. Even if you keep it short and simple, they’ll know that you appreciated the gift! 

Things to Avoid When Saying Thank You


Sending a thank you for a gift that you won’t necessarily use can come across as passive-aggressive if you word it incorrectly. If you really can’t think of a single thing that you like about the gift, thank the person for thinking of you. Keep things short and simple is better in these situations than revealing your distaste for the gift. For example, someone who bought you a yellow sweater doesn’t need to know that it’s your least favorite color! You can still thank them for thinking of you. 

Spelling Errors

This is a given. It’s most important to avoid spelling errors with someone’s name. Take the time to proofread before you hit send on the text or put the thank you in the mail. 


Being too thankful for something is as awkward as not saying thank you at all. You don’t need to send flowers or a big gift after someone picks up the tab for lunch. In fact, this makes them feel like they’re obligated to thank you, so it can create this big cycle of awkwardness that nobody wants to be a part of. Keep the thank you small. Generally, a hand-written note or just a text is enough! 


If your handwriting is hard to read, it also might be best to use e-mail or text instead of a handwritten thank you note. Alternatively, you could buy a thank you card. While it isn’t as personal if you want to add details, all you’ll need to do is sign your name. 

FAQs – How to Say Thank You for an Unexpected Gift

Is it okay to text someone thank you for a gift? 

At one time, it might have been considered rude to send a text as a thank you for a gift. However, etiquette is something that adapts to the changing times. In a time where many people connect across technology, it may be appropriate to text thank you for a gift. This is especially true if it’s a coworker, boss, or someone else that you aren’t particularly close to. 

If it is a close personal friend, however, it may also be nice to send a thank you note or tell them in person. Thank you notes are a better way of communicating how much you appreciate the gift. 

How do I say thank you for a gift I won’t use? 

Even if you won’t use a gift, it’s still good to communicate that you appreciate being thought of. Generally, it’s best to find at least one thing you love about the gift, even if it just means that the person who gave it to you was thinking about you. For example, imagine someone brought you back a keychain or other small gift from their vacation. Saying thank you could be as simple as, “I love that you thought of me while you were on your vacation!” 

When is it too late to send a thank you for a gift? 

It’s all too easy to get busy with life and forget to send out a thank you. When it comes to saying thank you, it’s better late than not at all. Even if a few weeks have passed, the giver of the gift will appreciate receiving a thank you. It’s never a bad time to be grateful. 

When you do send a thank you that’s a little late, be sure to really express your gratitude. For example, you might say, “Thank you for the coffee mug, I use it every day!” If you received a gift card, let them know that you finally got to use it and it reminded you of how thoughtful they were. 

Final Word

As you consider how to say thank you for an unexpected gift, the thing that matters most is timing and expressing your appreciation. Whether you choose to write out a note or communicate your thanks across a text, you should do it soon after receiving the gift. 

Samantha Davis

Samantha has been writing for 7 1/2 years, giving her the freedom to spend time with her fiance and two sons. She is also a parent to three fur babies- two dogs and a cat!