Besides saying “thank you for lunch”, what else can you possibly say? Well…A whole lot more! Now when I say that, am I suggesting that you make the thank you note lengthy just for the sake of it? Of course not!
What I’m saying, however, is that if your goal is to express gratitude in a way that appears sincere, then simply saying a casual thank you might fall short in conveying that feeling.
Before I tell you what to say, stop for a moment and think about this: With all that you’ve got to do, would you want to read a note if you felt that the other person was writing out of mere obligation?
I don’t think so!
Therefore, the goal of this post is to help you avoid coming across as insincere and thus, hurting your reputation among your friends or colleagues. The effects can even be more detrimental if you were writing to someone you just had a business lunch with.
So, let’s jump right in:
As you sit down (or maybe lie in bed) to write this note, I need you to think about the experience you are going to write about in detail. And here’s why: your ability to pick out something to appreciate the other person for, out of the easily overlooked aspects of an encounter would instantly communicate that you are thoughtful and intentional.
It could be a simple instance where the other person was insightful, helpful, or displayed some other positive attribute. Often, this minute element you pick out might have nothing to do with the food itself.
But don’t worry, I won’t just leave you to think through it all alone. I’m here to guide your thoughts as you reminisce about your lunch outing. Together, we’d write a letter that shows that you are deliberate about saying thank you. Here are a few points to questions to ask yourself:
Tips & Inspiration
You don’t have to incorporate all of these tips into one letter. Feel free to pick two or more of them to write a standout thank you for lunch letter.
Did they invite you to lunch or did you invite them?
We want to start our letter on the right foot. So, while there is nothing wrong with opening by saying “thank you for lunch”, I want to encourage you to resist the temptation to start off this way. Here’s a better way to start off this letter.
If they invited you for lunch, start off with something like:
- It was really thoughtful of you to invite me out for lunch…
- Thank you for inviting me out for lunch…
- I appreciate you for including me in your lunch plans today…
- Thank you for the incredible time at Shalimar restaurant today…
If you initiated the outing however, then why not flip that around and say:
- Thank you for accepting my invitation to lunch…
- I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to have lunch with me today…
- Thank you very much for coming out to lunch today…
When was the last time you guys got together?
Now is the time to start talking about the things you enjoyed about the outing. Again, resist the temptation to talk about the food. Think about why you invited them for the outing if you initiated the conversation. Otherwise, think about why you accepted the invite. 9 times out of 10, it wasn’t because you were starving and couldn’t get food elsewhere. It was probably because you thought it would be fantastic to get together with your friend, colleague, boss or whoever it was.
So before talking about the food, express your pleasure at seeing them or talk about how much you had missed hanging out with them. Here are a couple phrases to help you:
- It was such a pleasure seeing you again after 3 months…
- I’m glad we finally made good on our plans to meet after all this while…
- It was great catching up with you after a while…
- After several conversations on the phone, it was great to finally meet you…
- I was really pleased to meet you in person for the first time…
Who picked out the restaurant? And did you enjoy the meal?
If the other person picked out the restaurant and it turned out to be an incredible choice where you really enjoyed your meal and time together, why not commend them? Chances are the next time they think about inviting you for lunch, they would also think about getting somewhere either as nice as the last place or somewhere else that’s even better. Here are a couple of phrases to help you with this:
- This was my first time at Shalimar restaurant, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I must say however that you made a fantastic choice. The Biryani I had there was the best I can remember in a long time
- Great choice on picking the Sundance Restaurant! I walk past it every day on my way to work and never thought much about going in at any time. So thank you for finally getting me to go in. I never knew they had such delicious meals…
Any compliments you forgot to share?
Take the opportunity to throw in any compliments that you forgot to give when you guys got together. If you loved the red, pleated skirt that your friend was wearing but didn’t get a chance to mention it because you guys just chatted away as soon as you met in the parking lot, it’s not too late to let her know. Or if your business partner wore an immaculate, navy-blue suit, why not let them know they looked stunning?
What did you guys talk about?
Your friend might have talked about her cat, or the last vacation trip that she took to Cuba, or the fact that she is moving to a new city in a few weeks or whatever else she talked about. If it was a business meeting, your partner might have talked about a new product line that their company would be rolling out shortly which might have piqued your interest.
So, think about the discussions you had and what the highlight was. Even if all the other person did was give you their careful attention as you tried to share with them, that’s something to bring up here. What did you like or particularly enjoy about the discussions you had? You could say something like:
- I was so mesmerized as you shared the experiences you had during your last trip to Cuba that I have started making plans to visit there later this summer. Thanks so much for sharing with me…
- I really appreciate the time you took to share your insights about how we can be better positioned as a company to take advantage of the busy Christmas shopping period. I discussed them with my team and they are equally excited about our prospects for the last quarter…
Who paid for the meal?
If your friend picked up the tab for your meals, why not take the time to thank them? Here are a couple sentences to help you say thank you:
- Thank you for so generously paying for my meal…
- Thank you for offering to pick up the tab at the restaurant…
Would you love to repeat the experience?
This is a good way to close your letter/note. If you are looking forward to the next time you guys can meet up again like this, then close your note or letter by expressing that desire.
By communicating how great you felt about the overall experience like we’ve discussed, you unconsciously make them feel great about themselves as well. Don’t be surprised when they reach out to you trying to find out when next you guys can get together again.
If it was strictly a business lunch, here is something to think about:
“The average professional spends 28% of the work day reading and answering email, according to a McKinsey analysis. For the average full-time worker in America, that amounts to a staggering 2.6 hours spent and 120 messages received per day.”
So, to avoid them tossing your email aside because it’s too lengthy, try to keep it as brief as possible while including the most important elements. Better still, consider sending a handwritten note.
P.S. It is worth noting that taking the time to pick out a suitable thank you card and sending a handwritten note communicates even more thoughtfulness and appreciation for the kind gesture you received.
Thank You For Lunch Sample Letters
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to spend your lunch break with me today.
It was great to just air out how I have been feeling since losing my job last month. I have started following up on a couple of the leads you shared with me so thank you very much.
I really enjoyed my meal as well and look forward to catching up with you in the same manner very soon.
Here’s another example:
It was a pleasure to finally meet you after the last few weeks of chatting over email. Thank you for taking the initiative to set up yesterday’s lunch outing. It was a unique eye-opening experience for me and you deserve all the credit.
I must say that you picked out an incredible spot. I loved the ambiance and the food was extremely delicious. By the way, thanks for encouraging me to try out those scallops. I enjoyed them so much I have been thinking of going back for some more.
Most importantly, thank you for the updates you provided with regard to the new policies coming out from HQ. I’m so grateful I would have a few weeks to prepare ahead of the rollout.
It was such a pleasure.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo that you can save to your board…so you can easily pull out this post when it’s time to write a thank you note for a lunch outing