Here are a few ways you can thank someone: You can receive a gift and say thank you to the giver upon opening it. You can text “thxxxx bb xo!!!” later that night, or on the drive back from the vacation home where your host just hosted you. You can call the next day. Or — and you know this is the correct option — you can put pen to paper.
You know how great it felt when you opened the gift this person got you? Or how lovely it was to stay at their vacation house? Your thank-you note should capture some of those good vibes and send them right back. Since the medium is the message — and the local drugstore card aisle never seems to cut it — I asked seven designers and design editors (plus myself, editor of a design site and member of the latter category) about the note cards that pass aesthetic muster. These will go a long way.
The best-designed note cards online
Designer Tala Safié picked these postcards from Marimekko, which come in a set of 100 with 50 different designs, each repeated twice. “I like the fact that the front of each postcard simply displays the artwork with no particular written message or branding, while the back is conveniently blank, only featuring the credits of the artist,” she says.
“These thank-you cards from Noat are so beautifully designed and constructed (by third-generation New England craftsmen) that I kind of feel like they deserve a thank-you note in response,” says Claire Mazur, co-founder of Of a Kind. “Start of a vicious cycle.” The debossed palm leaves sport a still-on-trend Monstera leaf silhouette, but Mazur points out that they’re also reminiscent of Matisse cutouts. “My advice,” she says, “is to write out a draft of your note before you commit pen to this paper. They’re too fancy to screw up on.”
“Sometimes it’s hard to find one note card that’s appropriate for the receiver (your partner, your co-worker, your grandma …) and expresses all the things you need to say,” says Isabel Castillo Guijarro, art director of Refinery29. “So this set is the perfect solution — you can just make your own.” The extremely Memphis card set from Ban.do comes with stickers and is just customizable enough.
“Floral prints aren’t usually my jam, but this verdant set by Rifle Paper Co. is worth a second look,” says Bryn Smith, editor of Google Design. “The cards are blank, which is key if you prefer to personalize or hand-draw type inside like I do. There’s enough variety to suit any kind of thanking scenario, while still playing to your recipient’s style. Your conservative aunt? Muted rosé. Your plant-loving creative director? Hot fuchsia with notes of poppy and clementine.” Smith adds that these cards also come in a heavy paper weight and off-white stock, making them nicer than most.
Kelsey Keith, editor-in-chief of Curbed, lists a few personal requirements for thank-you cards: flat cards over folded ones (“more efficient, more economical,” she says), a blank space for writing, and most crucially, nothing with “thank you” printed on the front. “Your own words, even (especially!) when succinct, should take responsibility for the message, not some illustrator in Portland,” she says. “I stan for Block Shop Textiles in general, so I love their note cards, which are printed on thick card stock and edged in yellow gold.”
“Bonus points for sending a good stamp, like the WPA Posters set from last year.”
“I work in client services and write thank-you cards on the regular for things like client referrals and holiday gifts — and I am not shy about cold emailing people with asks for advice and favors,” says Alex Daly, whose firm Vann Alexandra runs crowdfunding campaigns and has a design-heavy client roster. She’s “obsessed” with this set of cards from Olivetti Pattern, which comes with a variety of squiggles, dots, and lines printed from an Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter.
“My favorite thank-you notes are those that rely on your words and not the card to express the sentiment,” says designer, art director, and illustrator Ngaio Parr. “A touch of yellow (the happiest color) is all you need. These custom edged cards from Crane also fulfill the dream of writing from the desk of Ngaio Parr.”
My personal endorsements
These are my always-just-right go-tos for absolutely every occasion, thank-yous very much included. The paper is sturdy, tastefully glossy on the outside, and matte on the blank inside. The best part is picking the color to match the recipient — people love interpreting the reasons behind your color choice.
All the fluorescence of Risograph with the consistency of offset printing, these vivid patterns by beloved Dutch graphic artist Sigrid Calon are an excellent color boost for your stationery stash. The soft, matte paper sets the neon ink off nicely, and the backs are blank, so your note of thanks can be just as unique and personal as Calon’s impactful work.
Euni’s cards are a bit heavier than most, and therefore perfect for when bigger thanks are in order, like for your wedding or baby shower. These are from a Seattle-based calligrapher turned stationer with a real knack for form and composition and a predilection for hand-lettered type.
No self-respecting designer’s or design lover’s desk set is complete without a few of Louise Fili’s note cards. Probably the most elegant graphic designer and hand-letterer in the game, Fili’s love for all things Art Deco and scripted is matched only by her historical research and rigor. These come at an insanely unbeatable price, so I suggest you stock up.
This set by art and design educator Mimi Robinson is deeply inspired by Josef Albers’s color theory, and pairs graphic patterns with cheerful rainbow hues.