Life can get very busy for all of us at times. That means there may be instances when you don’t get around to thanking someone for a kind gesture right away.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Belated Thank You Note Etiquette Tips
- Belated Thank You Note Messages for After a Funeral or Death
- Belated Thank You Note Messages for a Wedding
- Belated Thank You Note Messages for a Birthday or Another Celebration
- Belated Thank You Note Messages for Professional Settings
Don’t worry if that happens. You’re only human! More importantly, people always appreciate thank you notes and messages, even if they’re belated.
Still, you may feel you don’t know what to say when writing a belated thank you note. Keep reading if so. This blog offers belated thank you etiquette tips, as well as various examples of messages you might include in this type of note depending on the specific circumstances.
Belated Thank You Note Etiquette Tips
Proper belated thank you note etiquette can sometimes vary based on the details of the situation.
That said, in general, these tips will usually apply:
- Explain: Expressing your gratitude should be the main focus of your message. However, if you have a legitimate excuse for not thanking someone sooner, you may want to touch on it briefly.
- Provide detail: You want to make sure the recipient knows you genuinely appreciated their kind gesture. One of the best ways to show gratitude in this manner is to go into detail. Describe the gesture and how it made you feel.
- Repeat yourself: After explaining clearly and thoroughly why you feel so grateful to someone, repeat your thanks.
Belated Thank You Note Messages for After a Funeral or Death
If you’re sending out belated funeral thank you cards, consider using these messages to explain their lateness:
1. “Your call after the funeral meant so much. I’m sorry I'm just now thanking you. I hope you’ll understand.”
This example highlights the importance of thanking someone for a specific gesture. Keep in mind, most people understand that mourning a loved one’s passing is difficult. It’s unlikely they’ll be upset with you for not sending thank you notes right away.
2. “A (very belated) thank you for attending the funeral. It was incredibly kind of you to travel so far.”
A belated thank you note doesn’t need to be complicated. You can simply address the fact that the note is late, and move straight into thanking the recipient.
3. “What could have been a very difficult experience was much easier thanks to you and your incredible team. Sorry for sending this so late.”
This is the type of belated thank you note you might send to the staff of a funeral home. Odds are good they appreciate how grief can distract you from sending thank yous right away.
4. “Your help with the kids after the funeral made a tremendous difference in how they experienced that time. I should have sent this earlier, but we’ve all been adjusting to life these days.”
Someone who helped you take care of your children after the passing of a spouse deserves thanks, but they’ll also appreciate how you’ve been busy coping with a major life change.
5. “I took your advice and focused on self-care the past few months. It helped more than you can know. Thank you.”
This message simultaneously thanks someone for a specific gesture and explains why you’re sending a thank you message late.
6. “The support you offered after my father’s passing helped me through a very difficult time. My apologies for sending this so late. I’ve been busy handling his estate and I haven’t had much free time.”
It’s not uncommon to have many responsibilities after a loved one’s passing. Someone receiving a belated thank you note in these circumstances would likely understand that.
Belated Thank You Note Messages for a Wedding
Not everyone gets around to sending thank you notes right after their wedding! If you’ve waited a while to send yours, these examples will help you decide what to write.
7. “Thanks for attending the wedding! Your toast proved you know me well, so it probably doesn’t surprise you that it’s taken me so long to send this”
You don’t need to be dramatic when apologizing for your lateness. Depending on your relationship with the person you’re thanking, a little self-deprecating joke could be enough.
8. “I know this note is long overdue, but I want you to know it meant so much that you traveled as far as you did for our wedding!”
Again, being specific and treating every thank you note recipient as an individual is more important than apologizing profusely!
9. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the donation you made in our name for our wedding. Sorry we’re just now getting around to sending thank you notes!”
Letting someone know you delayed in sending out all wedding thank you notes (instead of just overlooking that particular person) is a good idea!
10. “Your recommendations made our honeymoon truly memorable! Sorry for the late thank you!”
A thank you note that makes someone feel their advice helped you enjoy your honeymoon to the fullest may be enough to keep them from being upset with you for sending it late.
11. “Sorry for waiting so long to thank you for attending the wedding, but we wanted every thank you note to mention our specific favorite memory of them from our special day.”
You can easily excuse a late thank you if you’re willing to take the time needed to include specific memories in every note!
12. “Thanks so much for attending our wedding and getting us our new favorite kitchen gadget! Sorry for the delay, but we’ve been too busy making delicious meals with it every night these past few months!”
Mentioning a gift a wedding guest may have bought for you (and joking that it’s kept you too busy to send thank you notes) is a cute way to excuse a belated wedding thank you.
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Belated Thank You Note Messages for a Birthday or Another Celebration
The following are a few smart thank you notes (even belated ones) for someone who attended an important celebration.
13. “Sorry to send this so late! Guess I’ve been a little too preoccupied with having fun using the pencil set you bought me. Thanks for a wonderful birthday gift! Here’s something I drew with it.”
Again, briefly apologizing for sending a thank you note late, then specifically thanking someone for a gift is a smart way to make them know you truly appreciated a gesture.
14. “I may be an adult now in the eyes of God, but it turns out I still procrastinate like a kid! Thank you so much for attending my special day!”
You might send a belated thank you like this after a bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, confirmation, or similar celebration. It’s an ideal message if the recipient is the type who’d appreciate your mild use of humor.
15. “I had a wonderful time talking about your college years with you at my graduation party. Thanks for being there! Sorry to send this late. I’ve been so busy preparing for school!”
This belated thank you message works because it touches on specific details (instead of being a generic note) and offers an understandable explanation for its lateness.
16. “Leave it to me to wait until it’s almost my next birthday to thank you for being at my last!”
Keep this example in mind if you’re thanking someone who’ll get a laugh from it!
17. “I should have sent this much sooner, but I’ve been spending too much time on the course with the clubs you got me. Thanks so much!”
This thank you message after a retirement party works by touching on a gift and explaining how much fun you’ve had using it.
18. “You made my birthday so wild I forgot it happened until just now! That’s why you’re finally getting this long overdue thank you note!”
If a friend threw you a fun, eventful birthday party, and they’re the type to forgive a belated thank you if you excuse it with a joke, they might get a chuckle from this!
Belated Thank You Note Messages for Professional Settings
There are many reasons professionals send their colleagues thank you notes, thank you gift baskets, and other tokens of gratitude. If you fall behind in sending yours, these examples will help.
19. “Thank you for the internship! Sorry to send this so late. I was busy with my job search, but the experience you gave me helped me land my dream role.”
Someone you interned under will probably understand that searching for a job keeps you too busy to get around to thanking them on time. They’ll also be happy to know the internship helped you get a job.
20. “A belated thank you for all the help your consulting firm offered us. Thanks to your advice we’ve been busier than ever.”
If the reason you didn’t send a thank you note right away is because someone’s professional advice resulted in fast business growth, let them know!
21. “I should have thanked you much earlier, but I wanted to let you know I’m thriving in my new role thanks to all I learned under you.”
A former employer will likely take no issue with a late thank you note if you mention how their guidance is helping you succeed now.
22. “A very belated thank you for your advice during our crisis. It’s all resolved now, thanks in no small part to you.”
Consider this message when thanking a colleague for advice that helped you resolve a difficult situation at your company.
23. “I should have realized how valuable my experience working with you would be sooner, but now I know that I learned so much because of you.”
We don’t always immediately appreciate what we’re learning from an employer if they seem hard on us. If you later realize a supervisor was simply equipping you with valuable skills, address it in a thank you note.
24. “I hope you’re doing well at your new job! I should have sent this earlier, but you should know I really appreciate all the ways you helped me learn the ropes of this business.”
It’s never too late to thank a former boss who’s since moved on to a job with another company!
25. “Thanks for recommending me! I’ve been learning so much at my new position that I definitely waited too long before sending this. Sorry, and thanks again!”
This is a simple but effective way to thank someone for recommending you to an employer. It’s another example that demonstrates how thanking someone, briefly explaining why you waited so long to do so, and then thanking them again is often the best format for a belated thank you note.
Belated Thank You Notes: Better Late Than Never!
While you may feel a little embarrassed to send a belated thank you note, you don’t have to. You simply need to use the right phrasing. Hopefully, these examples helped you determine what that phrasing might be.