What have people done to thank their letter writers? Just a thank you card, note, or a gift? Would a gift be appropriate, and if so, what type of gift? My letter writers had to each write 13 letters, so I want to thank them in some way.
I'm wondering the same thing. I'm thinking of a little card, and nice little tin of good tea. Only costs around $10, and it they don't like it they can regift it. Since my letter-writers are not marking me or writing any more letters, I don't think that it introduces any conflict of interest.
I think it's a nice touch. I'm sure that it took my writers a few hours to compile my letters, and I feel that a little thank-you is totally appropriate, and called for.
I just got finished doing this exact same thing. I filled out a hand-written thank you card and baked homemade cookies (and put them in ziploc bags) to put in their department mailboxes. Two of the three writers emailed me/spoke with me in person and said they really enjoyed the cookies =). I didn't want to spend money on a giftcard or anything. Though they may have enjoyed that too, it just didn't feel personal.
Does anyone think it might appear to be a conflict of interest to the professor or insulting? I had wanted to do something similar, especially for the letter writers who are not only writing me a thousand letters individualized to each institution (i.e., not from a template) but also have mentored me through this process, fielded reference calls for jobs, gotten me published, etc., going far beyond a simple 5-minute fill-in-the-blank LOR. I would like to be able to return those favors, but I recently saw (on another forum) where a professor actually said she would consider it "insulting" because she might feel like the person was paying her off to do her job and serve her students.
It was an interesting take...