• Tue, Jan 28 - 9:00 am ET

If You Don’t Send A Thank You Note, You Can Eat It And Die

thankI had the importance of manners and social niceties drilled into me from a young age. (Thanks, Mom!) I don’t ever remember being forced to write thank you notes, but I’ve always felt guilty and queasy inside if I don’t. (What will people think? Will they think I’m…ungrateful?)

I don’t write thank you notes just to make people like me. I write thank you notes because it’s the right thing to do. Maybe I’ve set way too high of a standard, but it really chaps my ass when someone doesn’t reciprocate by sending me a thank you note for their own special occasion—like a wedding or baby shower.

I’ve gotten a cramp in my hand from all of the thank you notes that I’ve written over the years for my engagement party, wedding gifts, baby shower, baby gifts, birthday parties, and more. I have sent out thank you notes religiously. You’re welcome.

I just feel like it is such a kick in the teeth to never send out a thank you note for all the gifts that you have been given. Yes, I know people like this. Also, I’d like to point out that we are in the digital age. So if you are totally lazy and don’t feel like putting a stamp on an envelope, you can at least send a GD text!!! But I digress.

Before you think me a high and mighty Emily Post type, I have decided to make a compromise to merge thank you notes into digital technology. Like I said, I’ve sent out hundreds of thank you notes in my lifetime. We just recently had my son’s second birthday party, so thank you notes were in order.

I’ll be honest—writing a thank you note isn’t that convenient, but that’s what makes it so special. But I also felt that since I’ve been writing hand-written thank you notes for years, maybe it was time to take it down a notch.

After my son’s recent birthday party, I asked my husband to create a custom thank you picture of my son, made to look like a card. I sent this custom picture in a private message through Facebook to each person that attended the party, with a personal thank you added.

My point is this: Okay, maybe the day has passed where handwritten thank you cards are a must. But at the very least, if someone decides to give you a gift out of the kindness of their heart, send them a fucking email to acknowledge it.

(photo: Getty Images)

You can reach this post's author, Bethany Ramos, on twitter.
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  • pixie

    My parents always got me to write thank you notes as a kid, and I must admit, I HATED writing them. Not because I was ungrateful or didn’t see the point in writing thank you notes (I always understood the reasoning and I was always grateful for any gift I got, even the super tacky ones from my grandmother’s friends), but because I really had no idea on how to write the note without it sounding robotic. I’ve always like writing personal things, but when it came down to writing a thank you note, I never felt mine were heartfelt enough to be really personal.
    As much as I hated (and still do) talking on the phone, I would have much rather have phoned up everyone to tell them thank you instead of agonizing over not sounding like a robot on paper. For some reason, writing emails is a lot easier for me, and at least now I can email people.

    • LiteBrite

      That’s how I feel about thank-you notes too: They’re robotic. I do try to include little personal things to make them less so (“Thank you so much for the serving tray in the shape of a swordfish. What a unique piece!”), but after awhile I feel like I’m writing the same thing over and over and over. This is especially true if I don’t know the person well.

      I know etiquette experts look down on the use of phone and e-mail as a way of expressing thanks, and I’m sure they have their reasons. But to me I think the “thank you” is the important part, not the means in which it was delivered.

      Note: I’ve never used e-mail as a way to thank people, but I also wouldn’t look down on someone who did.

    • pixie

      It’s just easier for me to use email at the moment because there doesn’t seem to be any post boxes close by (I have to go out of my way to even go to a post office) and I always forget to buy stamps.
      I know it’s a huge faux-pas with the etiquette experts to email or text, but even my snobby aunt has told me to email my uncle (her husband) to say thanks before (he works a lot so I couldn’t say it in person), so if she’s ok with it, then it must not be the worst thing in the world. ;)

    • Bethany Ramos

      I am more okay with email now, personally — I’ve done my thank you note “time.” Haha. I also email people thanks for personal gifts, but I did thank you cards for big occasions.

    • pixie

      If it was for a big occasion like a wedding or a baby shower, I would most definitely send out handwritten cards (I’d probably learn calligraphy just to do them and hand-draw the design, because I make pretty much every birthday/christmas/anniversary card I give out), but small things like my birthday, it’s just an email. :)

    • Emme

      I agree 100%. Big events or rites of passage like weddings, bridal showers, and baby showers deserve a handwritten thank you note. It’s not like these events happen every day, or every year, so I don’t see the notes as being that much of a burden. It not only shows you appreciate the gift by thanking them, but by taking the TIME to write the note. But for birthdays or similar events, I think you can play it by ear.

    • Paul White

      Also, and this is what I think finally stopped me doing them a lot….did you or your folks EVER get a thank you note? Cause we never saw one for any gifts at all, ever.

    • pixie

      We got them from my grandmother’s elderly friends, but when they started passing away or being sent to homes for dementia, those stopped. I get Facebook messages from my 11 year old cousin, but other than that, you’re right, I don’t think my parents and I have really ever gotten a thank you note.

    • Amanda Lee

      I’ve never gotten a thank you note. People also disagree when you should send someone one.

      Do you send it every time you get a gift/favor? Even if you thank the person right then? Do you send it for formal occasions only (bridal shower, baby shower, etc)?

      Everyone disagrees and everyone gets pissed off at people for imagined slights.

  • Ennis Demeter

    The last paragraph is the part I agree with the most. It’s about saying thank you and acknowledging someone’s generosity. I do think a written note is a little too much of a formality sometimes. It is probably best for occasions when you receive a lot of gifts at once. You have to thank people, though. In person, via e-mail, text, phone or in writing.

    • zeisel

      Exactly! It speaks volumes if you don’t at least do it in some manner, whether it be digital or not, especially if they sent a gift and not in person.

    • Amanda Lee

      I read the advice columns over on the Washington Post. You’d be surprised at how many people are still stuck in the 20th century and complain about the nerve of some people to send a thank you email and not a handwritten note delivered through the mail. People will complain about anything…

    • zeisel

      I think it depends on what their thanking the person for and if it was for a formal occasion. There should DEFINITELY be a card sent out to someone for weddings. I mean, come on…. some people travel to a wedding and you can’t give a thank-you card to one person and not to another that lived 5 minutes away and gave you a card with no gift. If they came to your wedding they all get a card- if it takes 6 months to get out- do it!

    • Amanda Lee

      No, I agree that thank you notes should be sent for formal occasions. These people were just talking about regular gifts (birthdays, Christmas, etc).

    • JLH1986

      I will admit I don’t send Thank You’s for xmas unless they were mailed. Then I call and send a thank you note. Because that’s over the top for me. But for birthdays etc. I send them.

    • Amanda Lee

      I also think it’s about the mindset of the group you are dealing with, My family never did thank you notes. My friends don’t either. Face to face or over the phone is enough for me. I don’t give gifts to get something in return.

    • Snipe

      Exactly. I want to give a gift because I want to give. I don’t want the recipients to feel obliged, I want them to feel glad that they were thought of, and hopefully pleased with the gift itself.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I don’t send them for Christmas, normally just an email if I didn’t see the person in person, I guess because everyone gets gifts on Christmas, so it is more expected.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      I send thank-you notes for birthdays and Christmas. Also job interviews. My guideline is that I do not send thank-you notes to my husband, parents, or sibling. They just get emails and in-person thank-yous. Everyone else gets a written note, especially grandparents. (Because while other people will just silently judge you for not sending a thank-you card, the grandparents will actually call my parents and chew them out if I don’t send a card.)

    • thefluter

      I love thank you notes, but I agree sometimes a written note seems a little overly formal. My rule of thumb is if you were invited to a party digitally — Facebook, evite, email, whatever — I send an email as thanks. Gifts always get a written note, though. I feel like if someone took the time to shop for me and purchase something, I can take a few minutes to send a card. Plus, I love getting and sending mail.

  • Allison

    Totally agree! Thanking people is a MUST. I was also drilled from an early age and hated every minute of writing these awful things, but it is such an important lesson to teach kids about being grateful. I always appreciate getting a handwritten thank you note (although I get fewer and fewer, which is irritating especially when you have mailed a gift for wedding/shower, etc and want to know that the person at least received it!). I do feel that the “thank you” is the most important part, but I have to admit that I think email/text is really lazy. Yes, the notes sound robotic at times and yes, they take an extra minute or two to complete, but they do convey a certain amount of care and tact. After all, if this person was willing to think of you and shell out some of their money for you on a gift, don’t you have 5 minutes to write a proper note, throw a 49 cent stamp on it and toss it in the mailbox?

    • zeisel

      Seriously! I think that it also reflects on the parents as well.. especially if it is a kid that you give a gift to and never hear anything after. We dropped off a gift for my husband’s 14 year old niece and she wasn’t there at the time, so she wasn’t able to thank us in person. I understand it can be hard to get a teenager to write a thank-you note, but if they’re not there to thank-you for it, then one should be sent out or at the very least- done digital. I think it speaks volumes about the parents and what manners they instill in their children.

    • Allison

      Yes – definitely speaks volumes about the parents! That is awful that your niece never thanked you! And my feeling is – if the child/teen is not motivated to write a thank you note, then he/she is not allowed to use the gift until it has been acknowledged (and if they still refuse, then parents can step in and write the note for etiquette’s sake and that delightful child/teen will not be getting any more gifts until he/she gets over his/her issue with thank you notes!) I am not always such a hard-ass with my kids, but this is one area in which I refuse to budge. I even had my 4 year old son helping with his thank you notes from his birthday party. He put the stickers on the cards, helped sign his name as best he could. Was it fun? Nope. But necessary – yes.

    • zeisel

      To tell you the truth.. I think my husband’s sister could really care less with having her daughter acknowledge the gift with a thank-you. Times have changed with showing gratitude or just be gracious for something- they have that I deserve everything, even if I can’t afford it mentality. I think that rolls over into the gift arena, too.

      My toddler is coloring on her thank-you cards- I’m starting it early with her two-year old b-day cards. Glad to know that your son is also showing appreciation!

    • Guest

      If a toddler can color a thank you card a teenager can write a quick one or make a cute one to send digitally with an app. I really like the idea of not using it until you do the thank you. I really wish more people instilled this value in their children because from experience I’ve seen that it means the world to the gift giver (especially when its grandparents).

    • mrs.pigglewiggle

      I’ll be the first to admit it; writing thank you notes seemed like such a drag when I was a child. However, now that I’m an adult with my own child, I can’t wait until he is old enough to continue the family tradition. I’ve grown to truly enjoy writing thank yous, as I find that it is in those moments while sitting down pen in hand to dash off a note, that I really do feel the gratitude for having people in my life that make the effort, time, money etc. to do something special for me.
      On more than one occasion I have been chided by people for writing notes. As if it is old fashioned or too formal :-(

    • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

      Holy crap, I love your screen name!

    • guest

      I was raised by a mom who wouldn’t let us use the gift until we sent the thank you note. To this day I can’t bring myself to use something or cash a check or what have you until I’ve sent the note. I plan on doing the same thing when my kid is old enough to write. I’ll be keeping the stationery business afloat!

    • Sara

      We just always thanked the person in person. It’s not because our parents didn’t teach us manners or anything, we were just taught that if you get a present from someone you went and spent time doing nice things for that person.

  • zeisel

    I’m in total agreement with you about acknowledging someone’s gift or something they did for you. I think thank-you notes are still common; however not on the uprise by any means. I’m actually writing my thank-you notes for my two year old daughter’s birthday. I don’t ever think I will change to a digital thank-you for me. It was hard enough to go digital with an evite for her birthday invitations and I’d rather take the time showing appreciation for coming to celebrate and the gift giving then the actual invite.

  • G.E. Phillips

    Amen. The worst example I have of this is when my bestie and her sister were pregnant with their first babies, due 1 month apart. So they of course had a joint shower. I bought them each a nice, similarly priced item from their respective registries, even though I would have loved to spend a little more on my friend and a little less on her sister, who I’ve known my whole life but never really cared for too much. My bestie sent out lovely, personalized thank you notes. Her sister sent out nothing, not to me or anyone else, as far as I know.

    • thefluter

      Ugh, I’m in the same boat. I went to a wedding last year with my boyfriend. The couple getting married were his friends; I’d only met them a couple times. We went in together for a gift, but since the wedding was not in their current location, we brought a card to the wedding and mailed the gift to their home address in NYC when we got back. USPS said it was delivered, but we never got a thank you, and I just keep agonizing over whether or not they got it — and whether they think we’re cheap bastards who just gave them a card and nothing else!!

  • Tinyfaeri

    I’ll admit, I’ve been crappy about thank you notes for most of my adult life, but now that I have a kid I’m trying to be much better about them. We didn’t really have a baby shower, but I did send notes to everyone who got us a baby gift, and now that the little one is old enough to color I’ve started writing them out for her gifts and having her color on them. I’m in thank you note rehab. That said, we don’t typically get thank you notes from the other adults with whom we exchange presents, though we’ve always sent emails or called.

    • Bethany Ramos

      #thankyounoterehab LOL. I’d say thank you notes in my circle are about 50% – still kinda sad.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Maybe I should start a support group… :)

    • pineapplegrasss

      an idea for your baby shower is to have all the envelopes in a bowl or something and have the guests fill out the return address to them as door prize or something, then that parts all done and the writer just has to write the card

    • Bethany Ramos

      Yes, this is SUCH a good idea – thanks!

    • pineapplegrasss

      I didn’t remember that one yesterday until I saw this post about the invitations today lol. And, if you haven’t done it in your circle yet, its a surprise to the guests when they get it in the mail.

    • thefluter

      IDK, I’d be a little annoyed that if I bought a gift for someone’s shower, I’m basically doing half the work of a thank you to myself on top of that. I’m a little obsessed with Miss Manners and etiquette, though, so YMMV.

    • candyvines

      Agreed, it is so rude to ask your guests to address their cards.

    • pineapplegrasss

      I don’t think its rude at all. You do it as a game, and its cute. They don’t even know why they’re doing it at the time. Its just for a fun twist on silly baby showers anyways.

    • candyvines

      I don’t expect that I’ll change your mind, but guests attending a shower have already spent time, energy, and money procuring a gift for you (and generally a card too). It is not polite to then expect them to address the card that you are sending to thank them. If you can’t be bothered why would you expect them to be? Games are one thing, but I don’t think most would think this was a fun twist – and people notice even if they are polite enough to pretend they don’t.

    • pineapplegrasss

      I guess I never looked at it that way and kinda don’t care very much anyhow lol. Um not if people are rude I mean, if they don’t use/like that idea. It’s just an idea, I don’t advocate for it either way. I just thought it was a cute way to get to the same end result. You would still have to write out the card and lick the stamp..

    • candyvines

      It’s not spit in your face offensive, but I’d be secretly miffed if it happened!

    • Bethany Ramos

      You should spit – the image is priceless.

    • candyvines

      Oh, god, I meant being spit on offensive! I’m laughing so hard at the idea of spitting on the bride-to-be or expectant mother because she asked me to address my card. #overreacting

    • pineapplegrasss

      Oh that’s too funny. I’m laughing so hard at that visual too. Someone find a GIF

    • Bethany Ramos
    • Bethany Ramos

      LOL!

    • rrlo

      LOL – that would be SO awesome to watch as a guest. Reminds me of Kristen Wiig freaking out in Bridesmaides at the Paris themed shower.

    • pineapplegrasss

      you should definitely get the peel and stick stamps lol

    • guest

      I’m going to disagree with you and say that yes, your guests know why they are doing it and it’s definitely tacky (Emily Post agrees in her first point, here http://www.emilypost.com/weddings/planning-your-wedding/154-bridal-shower-dos-and-donts). Just don’t do this. Find some other way to obtain/keep track of your guests’ addresses. You can keep a Google docs spreadsheet of all your contacts and have access to it wherever you are, it’s a great thing to have on hand.

      Like others have said, it takes five minutes to write and send a thank you note to a person who has gone out of their way to be nice to you. what’s next, hitting your guests up for a stamp?

    • pineapplegrasss

      great idea. We could ask them to bring a stamp to be entered in another door prize!

    • Bethany Ramos

      But you do have to get their address somehow? I have also passed out a pad and pen for addresses before (and have seen this at showers), so same amount of work.

    • thefluter

      Are you inviting people online, rather than old-fashioned paper invites? Why not ask that they send their address when they RSVP. Much less work for guests, and you avoid the eyebrow-raising of asking guests to write their own thank-you-card envelopes.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Well, I did keep all the addresses, so there you go! It only took once. :) Usually I do online invites and keep the same addresses for TY notes.

  • Guest

    I love this. I try to send thank you notes out often (and quick) especially if its a gift that I didn’t receive in person so I couldn’t verbally thank them. It helps people know the item was received and appreciated. There have been a few times I’ve wondered if my in laws even got their item so at that point even a text of a pic or a thank you is appreciated. I do really love the idea of a card with picture of the kid holding the item until they can write thank you notes themselves.

    • Alexandra

      Oh this is a really cute idea, a text pic with you holding the gift and simply saying thank you! :) thank you – I like the idea!!!!

  • CMJ

    I read an entire article on xoJane about a women who didn’t feel the need to write thank you notes after her wedding. While I was breaking out in hives, the large majority of commenters were agreeing with her. I died inside for all of those idiots.

    Thank you notes are important and a must. Yes, they can be a huge time suck, but I have to say, I love sending them and I love receiving them.

    • JLH1986

      I had cards printed with my hubs and I holding a “thank you” on a string (thanks Pinterest!) and then made into small thank you cards for our wedding. They were actually very reasonable and everyone loved them! I admit if I send a gift for something and don’t get a thank you back, I’m done buying for that person/family. My god kids can’t write, but I still get drawings with their mom saying “thank you aunt J!” when we get them gifts. It’s the simple things.

    • CMJ

      I actually just wrote a thank you card to my aunt who sent me a necklace she made in the mail (totally unexpected). The first thing I thought was: This is lovely!! The second thing: I need to get my thank you out!!

      And seriously, people who don’t send thank you notes are dead to me. I found one that I had written for our wedding to my husbands cousin who lives in Paris that never got sent…I was SO MORTIFIED. I wanted to die.

    • JLH1986

      If I’m important enough for someone to offer a gift, no matter how small, no matter if that gift is their time, money or an actual gift. They are important enough for me to take 2 dang minutes out of my day and say “Thanks so much for thinking of me!” But we’ve become a society of entitled pricks who think it’s perfectly normal to receive things for no reason other than we breathe. Thus no thank you card. I’m sure someone out there has said “well of course I deserved a gift, I’m not sending a thank you card for doing what she should have done!”

    • CMJ

      I pretty much buy TY cards all the time (cause I love paper and stationary) so I like to have them on hand at all times….stamps, stamps are a whole other story.

    • JLH1986

      Sometimes I worry I have a problem with pens and stationary. I have absolutely NO NEED for the $12 pen…but I always manage to talk myself into it.

    • Alexandra

      ME TOO – maybe there’s a support group – get me into a stationary store and LOOK OUT!! :)

    • CMJ

      It was one of our non-negotiable expenses for our wedding. My husband (because he’s really the crazy one about paper) found a small print/design firm out of Lexington, KY that did our Save the Dates and Invites.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      Yay! You just reminded me that I’m out of envelopes for my stationery, and I don’t have any stationery for my husband to use at all. If I received a gift, I would be in trouble. Now I have a reason to go out and buy some new stuff to keep around just in case.

    • Guest

      I love pretty stationary! I’ve found ordering stamps online and having them shipped to me is just so much easier :-)

    • gothicgaelicgirl

      *HEADDESK*

    • rrlo

      I HATED sending my wedding thank you cards. I only did it because I didn’t want to appear rude. Just HATED it… it took forever. I don’t love receiving them either… most of the time it’s a very mechanical note (Thank you for your generous present. We will use the dishes to have dinner) and seems unnecessary to me…

    • CMJ

      I totally disagree that it’s unnecessary. I look at it this way – people spend money and their time to come to my wedding and my wedding shower. I want to show them that I really appreciate it. Even if I did not get a gift I sent people cards thanking them for coming to my wedding and how much it meant for them to share the day with myself and my husband.

    • rrlo

      I get what you’re saying. It’s just unnecessary to me. I would not care at all if someone didn’t send me a thank you card. I am not arguing it’s unnecessary in general – obviously in a family where people care about these types of things – it’s very necessary.
      Also, just because I hate the process and don’t really care – I have sent Thank you cards for showers and weddings. But I only did it because it was expected of me rather than it gave me pleasure to do it.
      It’s not the thanking part that I don’t like. It’s writing out the address, mailing, writing the notes, keeping track of who has been thanked and who hasn’t… Just not my thing.

    • Snipe

      I feel the same way. I give gifts because I want to give, and I don’t want any expectations attached to my gifts. That’s because that type of gift is usually given at a celebration of some sort, and those tend to be hectic. If the person opens the gift and says “thank you,” that’s more than enough. I don’t ever want them to feel like they have to write out a note. I also don’t enjoy receiving thank-you notes. They eventually become another piece of clutter, and I feel bad about throwing them away.

    • westerner

      suck it up princess. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bought baby and wedding gifts and don’t even get a kick in the pants with a steel-toed boot. I go to alot of trouble and time, not to mention money that I would rather spend on myself or buy something for my house. There’s also the travel time, hotel costs, new outfit for the wedding and not even get a simple thank you note makes me want to never go to a wedding again. Talk about lazy…..”just HATED IT….it took forever”. Boo-hoo-hoo. Show a little common courtesy and thankfulness.

  • Holly

    I send thank yous for so many different things. This has been the snowiest January on record in Detroit and I sent my neighbor a gc and thank you for snow blowing my driveway and sidewalks. I’ve sent them to neighbors for helping with getting my kids on the bus on snowy mornings so I can get to work on time. If someone goes out of their way to do something kind and neighborly, I figure the least I can do is scribble on a cute card and drop it in the mail. Kindness begets kindness and the world could use a whole lot more!

    • Bethany Ramos

      Aw, this is wonderful.

    • Holly

      Thanks. I think I may have sounded a little braggy there, but I am a huge proponent of thank you notes. I love when people are kind to each other. It’s becoming a lost art.

    • thefluter

      I so agree! Getting real mail is always such a pick-me-up that I love to do the same for others. :)

    • Alexandra

      LOVE THIS~!!!!!

    • JPen

      Those are always the best notes to receive :) I always write for a gift, but to take the time to stop and thank someone for going out of their way to be kind is just wonderful. Thanks for the inspiration to do more of that!

  • Amanda Lee

    I would say the only time you need to send a thank you note is when you don’t open the gift in front of the person and thank them then and there. Or if you call them and thank them personally.

    • Mette

      I agree, but I know Americans like to send out thank you notes. When I first moved there, I was invited to a baby shower for two women I didn’t know, and I went to meet new people. I got them both a onesie for the babies, not expensive at all, and they both thanked me for it then and there. Therefore I was surprised to recieve thank you cards from both of them, too.

  • Alexandra

    AGREE! I never wanted to write thank you notes as a kid (it’s still not my fav) but I did and still do – every birthday, every Christmas, every time I receive a gift or someone goes out of their way to do something over and above for me (ie: my inlaws taking me and hubby out to a fancy dinner on my bday). It has been drilled into me. It’s funny too, now I see that I get thank you notes from people who previously did not send them. My mom has a friend who never made her kid send them, “oh she doesn’t want to”. tough shit,. My kids will be sending thank you notes until they’re 18 because it’s the right thing to do. If that becomes a facebook post or email or e-card or whatever, that’s fine too, i’m not being a stickler for the handwritten note – but it is the nicest!

  • practicallyperfectineveryway

    I moved abroad last year so whenever I’ve written thank you cards to friends and relatives back home, I’ve written them on postcards from the (touristy, famous) city in which I live. People get a kick out of receiving postcards from Europe and there’s also slightly less space on the back than in an actual card, so it’s not hard to come up with unique notes for each person. When I lived nearby I used to just do normal cards. My grandmother especially EXPECTS notes and used to call us up “concerned” that the post had lost our thank you notes. It still makes me laugh.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    I’d like to write you a thank you note for this post.

    • Bethany Ramos

      Awww I’ll send you my address ;)

  • Snarktopus

    I made sure to do thank yous for my wedding and baby shower, even if they didn’t get completely done and sent until 6 months out. :/ I also try to send my GIL a thank you note for birthdays. For my daughter’s birthday, though, I just called/texted/facebook messaged people thank yous. I mean, it was her grandparents from both sides, great grandma, and one of her uncles. If more distant relatives had sent her gifts, I probably would have done handwritten notes.

  • libraryofbird

    Thank you notes were/are a big deal in my family, so much that when I got a Christmas card from my aunt & uncle I immediately thought “how sweet I should send them a thank you note!”

  • Amanda Lee

    So what if thank you notes were never done in your circle of friends and family?

    • Guest

      My family never did them…for anything. Once I became an adult I started just because I thought it was nice. The more I send the more I seem to get too which is nice. I still don’t for my gifts from my parents because I’m there in person but when we have kids I’ll make them :-)

  • Véronique Houde

    Ugh… thanks for reminding me of the stack of unfinished thank you notes that were never sent after my shower because i gave birth 3 weeks early :S I hope I was able to thank everyone in person at least!!

    • CMJ

      CONGRATS on Baby!!!!

    • Véronique Houde

      LOL well, the worst part is that she’s now 15 months old. which really just makes it worse. AND I’m pregnant again ;). So… yeah…

    • CMJ

      I think I knew you were pregnant again? (is that creepy?) so I thought it was your second one….yep, this sounds creepier as I type it.

      :)

    • Véronique Houde

      AHAHHA NAH it’s okay, it’s yoU!!!! I just thought you might have forgotten or something. Nope. These are the TY cards for baby one. For baby 2 I don’t want a shower!

    • rrlo

      That’s one of the best part of baby #2 – no shower! People just drop off their hand-me-downs. What I hated more than writing TY cards was opening presents while everyone stared at me…. like a fumbling, ungraceful whale… *shudders*. And people gave us such wonderful things too – I was so grateful – I wish I didn’t have to take to stage to express it :(.

    • rrlo

      I was so paranoid that something might go wrong (with the pregnancy, for no reason, I was just nuts) – that I held off on sending the thank you notes for the baby shower. I also had this elaborate, hand made poem thing going on too – which was a horrible, horrible mistake. Long story short – it took me forever to send out the cards, I was wracked with guilt the whole time and even now (2 years later) occasionally find thank you cards that I wrote but never mailed! Its horrible!
      I just made sure that the ones that really, really cared (like great grandma) received their notes. Good luck!

  • AmazingE

    And that’s why you should always leave a note.

    I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually received a thank you note, which is why I always make a point of sending them or at least telling the giver thank you in person.

  • anonymous

    My best friend who threw my shower was amazing! In addition to the wonderful party, she gave me thank you notes and stamps along with the list of who gave what. It was so nice because she knew I would want to send out thank yous but didn’t have the energy to go running around. It only further proved how thoughtful she was and how lucky I am to have such great friends.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      That’s the most useful thing ever! The most difficult part of writing thank-you notes for me is finding and writing down everyone’s addresses.

    • sri

      My friend did the same thing. It was my favorite gift, no lie. It saved so much time during a time that I felt like I was running in 5 directions at once. Of course, since I’m awkward and forgetful, I forgot to thank her for the thank you notes in her thank you note…

  • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

    Personally, I think the thank-you note needs to be on paper for me to check off my “I sent a thank-you note” box. I don’t care if people send thank-you notes to me or not. It’s all fine and I’ll just recycle them if they do arrive. But I want to think of myself as a person who sends thank-you notes, so I must send thank-you notes with stamps and everything. Otherwise I have not sent the thank-you note and my grandma will haunt me. (Actually, she’ll haunt my mom for not raising me to send thank-you notes. But then I’ll have to get yelled at for causing the haunting.)

  • SA

    For most of my life I have been crappy about “Thank You” notes. They weren’t done in my family – most of the family was local, I was from a small town. You pretty much saw everyone all the time so I guess that is why my parents never pushed it. I married into a “Thank you” note family and learned quickly that not sending notes were unacceptable. It took a while to get used to, but I completely see the reasoning behind and they have become addictive, it is a need for me to send a note now. It is definitely needed to spend the time to write a note because the person you are thanking obviously spent time & money to think of you.

    I plan to instill this into my daughter and hopefully she will find where she WANTS to send them instead of feels like she has to.

  • Ally

    I admit, I’ve only ever sent out thank-you cards for my wedding. But I’ve never had parties or showers or anything, and no one in my family does it for holidays… I only remember getting maybe one in my life for a cousin’s wedding. So I never really saw what the big deal is. I understand that it’s important to thank people, but if I receive a gift, it’s usually in person, so I thank them right there to their face. Idk, maybe it was just never beaten into my head by my parents, lol. I don’t remember my mom ever sending out thank you notes, or even talking about them.

    My ignorance to this whole issue was so great that I actually didn’t even grasp that I had to send them out after my wedding until I started reading things like this. And then I realized that a lot of people REALLY care about getting a thank you card, and the last thing I wanted to do was offend anyone. I will admit though that, as a thank you card virgin, I majorly screwed up the entire thing. I never thought to write down who gave me what, so I basically did all of the cards by memory. I remember the big gifts but for the smaller ones that I couldn’t remember, I just wrote something like “thank you so much for your generosity, love, and support”. :/ Yeah, it wasn’t my brightest moment…

  • Hanna

    Thank you for this article. I have written thank you notes basically since I was born, and now I feel like people think they are silly and I don’t know what to do. My youngest child’s birthday is at the beginning of December, so we sent out thank you notes for her birthday presents. Then Christmas came along and I feel silly writing the same few lines only 3 weeks later. They still haven’t been written and I feel horrible about it, but I just don’t know what to do. I think the problem is I don’t even KNOW the people on my husband’s side who send all these gifts so I don’t even know how to make the cards personable, so I end up sounding like a 4 year old “Dear ___ Thank you for the ___. It was great…”

    • Amanda Lee

      For the gifts from your husband’s family – please tell me you aren’t writing thank you notes for your husband’s gift(s) or your childrens’; I hope you mean the gift(s) they gave you.

    • Hanna

      LOL no! I mean I have a baby, so thank you for the baby’s gifts. I am dying laughing about writing thank you notes for my husband’s gifts, that would be ridiculous!

    • Amanda Lee

      Make your husband to it! lol

  • http://www.gamedevwidow.weebly.com/ Theresa Edwards

    Oh no! I guess I have to eat it and die because I don’t send thank you notes. I write them. I address them. I just don’t send them (thanks, adult ADD!) But on the flip side I always tell people not to send me thank you notes because if you’ve just pooped a baby out or gotten married, there are better things for you to do. I do “thank you” phone calls and I also force my child to do them too.

    • CommentingPeg

      “I always tell people not to send me thank you notes because if you’ve just pooped a baby out…there are better things for you to do.”

      Bless you. I only hope there are many others with this attitude; I do the same thing. I have 18-month-old twins and for their first birthday my gift to myself was to let go of the guilt over not sending thank you notes to every single person who sent us a gift.

      We had three baby showers: notes went out 72 hours later. When I was pregnant I went through several packages of thank you notes and they all went out within a day of gift arrival. After the girls were born? Three weeks was my personal best. Most went out a month or two or three later. When we hit the one-year mark I had at least three notes that were more than six months late. Did that mean I was ungrateful? No, it meant I was insanely busy. Thank you notes would only occur to me in the down time, usually right as my (also sleep-deprived) husband and I were just going to bed. I used the one-year mark to let go of the guilt and start over with a clean slate (no, I didn’t go back and write the missing notes because by that point I couldn’t remember who they were for, nor why, nor have any idea of an address for them). The post-birthday thank yous were created ahead of time and went out a week later.

  • CMP414

    Thank you notes are an absolute must do for me. I don’t care what day and age it is good manners and gratitude will never be out of style. I’m going to drill this into my kids as well. If you can accept a gift, you can write a note!

  • Kelly

    I’m so glad no one in my circle of friends does thank you notes. We just say thank you when we receive a gift and we’re done with it. Simple and no one gets butt hurt over not receiving a card about it days or weeks later.

    • CMJ

      I don’t get butt hurt, but I do worry that someone might not have received my gift.

    • Kelly

      That’s why we say thank you. If I call you and say “thanks”, you should know I received your gift. I don’t know why you’d need a card to confirm that. If you do, that’s butthurt.

  • Momma425

    I hate to admit this- but I did not send thank-yous after my husband and I got married.
    We were going through the home-buying process, I work full time and so does my husband, my daughter got sick so we were in and out of the hospital with her, and then we moved.
    Everyone who was close to me and had been at the wedding knew how busy we had been. We called family to let them know we recieved their gifts and appreciated them and thanked them for coming to the wedding.
    I STILL feel guilty though. I’ve always sent thank-you cards. But there are times in which life kind of gets in the way and sending a thank you to great aunt tina isn’t really a huge priority.

  • Kay_Sue

    It’s common courtesy. It doesn’t kill anyone and helps foster a sense of community, which I think is important, personally.

  • Angela

    I agree that thank you notes are a lovely gesture and that it’s the polite response to a gift. I try to make sure that I send them and that my children do as well.

    But I will not be upset if someone does not send me one. I grew up with a mother who was very generous but then would hold everything over my head and use it to control me. I resented it and today I’m careful to not give anything that I cannot relinquish unconditionally with no strings attached. I get that a thank you note is a relatively small expectation, but it is a string nonetheless. If you aren’t able to give without getting upset at not receiving back your perceived do then you should start treating your gifts as what they are- transactions. Always preface each gift by outlining your expectations “If I give you this sweater then I expect a handwritten note delivered within 2 weeks time,” and allow the recipient to accept or reject your terms. Or choose to stop giving altogether. Or better yet, just let it go.

    • Stephanie

      I don’t think it’s a “string” to expect to be thanked if for no other reason than to find out for sure that the item arrived safely. I don’t care if it’s in the form of a voice mail, text, email, face to face conversation or a thank you note but I do want to know that the gift I took the time to buy arrived safely. I sent a gift to a friend far away for her wedding and never got a thank you. I felt like a jerk checking in on her so I didn’t. A few years later she teased me about not getting her a wedding gift. Turns out it was stolen off her front porch.

    • Angela

      It’s certainly a considerate gesture to let someone know that her gift arrived and it really is nice to be thanked. I’m not arguing against thanking people. In fact I’d recommend it. Nor do I have a problem with calling to ensure that your package arrived safely or even asking in advance that she let you know when she receives your gift. I also can understand if you choose not to go out of your way for someone who you don’t believe appreciates your efforts.

      Anyway, the point is that whenever you give a gift there’s always a possibility that the recipient will fail to react in the way you’d hoped. If you can’t find a way to be ok with that then maybe you should re-evaluate whether you really want to give the gift. If they’re a thoughtful friend in other ways I’m willing to look past it. And if they’re not why expend the money and effort to begin with KWIM?

    • Stephanie

      That’s exactly why we’ve stopped giving birthday gifts to some relatives. They don’t say “thank you” or even acknowledge the gifts at all so we just send cards.

  • Rachel Sea

    I never expect thank you notes, and I’d rather not send them. Their just one more thing to spend money on so that it can be thrown away. I’m all for thoughtful thanks, but I’m happy for it to happen at the moment of giving.

  • rrlo

    See I don’t even notice if someone doesn’t send me a thank you note for a shower/wedding present. I didn’t realize people actually cared! Very interesting… Thank you notes are not part of my culture at all either – so never gave it much thought.
    Honestly, I would rather people not give us a present if it means I have to send a Thank You note. Sigh. Why are men exempt from this practice btw…?

    • CMJ

      My husband writes thank you notes when he receives a gift or someone does something nice for him. We also wrote our thank you cards together – for both our wedding and shower.

    • rrlo

      Oh really? I thought it was only the ladies that sent thank you notes.. I did, for our wedding gifts. I wish I had known… I would have put my husband to work.

    • http://www.ambiencechaser.com/ Elizabeth Licata

      Oh yeah, my husband totally did half the thank-you notes. I did the bridal shower thank-you notes, because those were just for me. But the wedding gifts thank-yous we totally split.

  • Stephanie

    Apparently I have my own weird little set of rules for thank you cards. Gifts for holidays like Christmas, Easter, etc. don’t require a thank you note. Stuff that applies only to you or your child (birthdays, graduations, weddings) do require a thank you. But if you pick up the phone and call, it’s just as good as a thank you note because the person gets to hear the gratitude in your voice. The only thing that bothers me is when you mail someone a gift and you never get any thanks from them at all. I do consider that really rude.

    • sri

      I have a similar set of rules. The more formal an event is, the more a note needs to be sent, imo. Birthdays? A phone call is usually sufficient or we send drawings by the little ones if it was a party for them. Christmas? Thanks in person are fine, or a phone call if it was shipped. Wedding? I expect a card. Maybe not immediately- the couple has more important stuff to do- but eventually. I personally think that notes are faster than phone tag for that many people, anyway.

  • Lala

    I like to do thank you cards but will probably encourage my daughter when she’s old enough to do thank you calls since sometimes I feel it’s more personal – this way you can talk to person, have meaningful conversation. I always did this as a child.

    I don’t get butt hurt if someone doesn’t send me a thank you. You can’t send something with an added expectation. IS it nice when people do reciprocate – yes. But a necessity- no.

  • anon87

    I love sending cards. I was always taught to write thank-you cards, and when writing them to thank the person for what they specifically gave/did for me. It drives me insane when I send someone a gift and I don’t even get a phone call to know that they got it. I don’t send baby/wedding/engagement/Christmas gifts for the thanks, but it would be nice to know it got to the person it was intended to go to.

  • Toaster

    I always send out thank you notes because that was how I was raised, but I hate receiving them. What do you do with them after? I’m not a big ‘cards’ person in general and don’t scrapbook or anything so they just end up in a box taking up space. I’d rather get an email or phone call.

  • robbie

    Good manners should never go out of style so I agree–Send a fucking email!

  • spunkysmum

    “Before you think me a high and mighty Emily Post type”…..you’re not? Because from the get-go I was struck with the resemblance, given Emily Post’s famous penchant for telling readers at large to “eat it and die” and talking about the chappedness of her ass.

  • meteor_echo

    Here in Ukraine, we don’t have thank-you notes as part of our culture. If I’m grateful to you for something, I’ll either give you a call or thank you when I see you. To me, it’s sort of pointless to write those notes.

    • Snipe

      I like that better than the mandatory thank you note mindset. It makes it seem more real and more personal, and you don’t have another piece of paper to throw out with the ads and old newspapers.

    • meteor_echo

      Exactly. I don’t understand why someone should write a bunch of cards that they hate writing, and send them to people who’ll throw them out into the recycling bin anyway. I thank people for presents, but via phone or e-mail or Skype, which sounds more personal and spares the paper.

  • squirrel

    Not until I was married did I become fanatical about writing thank you notes. Why? Because in my family’s older generation’s outside-the-U.S. culture, there were no thank you notes because of the concept of reciprocity. Either in the past, present, or in the future, we would somehow repay or be paid an equivalent gift.

    So, question for all you out there: Do you write thank you notes if there is an *exchange* of gifts, such as on holidays and anniversaries? And would you really be offended if a good friend didn’t give a thank you card (but says thanks) while a mere acquaintance writes one but you don’t have a deep relationship with that person?

    Lastly, how do you handle other cultures?

    • Bethany Ramos

      I don’t have all the answers on this, but I personally don’t do it for a gift exchange, like Christmas. Everyone is getting gifts on Christmas, but maybe if something was huge or extravagant, you could send an email to thank the giver. Most often, I send thank you notes when there is a big party in my or another family member’s honor, where many gifts are received, like a baby shower or kid’s birthday party. The only reason I am somewhat offended is because certain people I know have had multiple celebrations, like showers and weddings, with ZERO acknowledgment or thanks.

  • emncaity

    Totally, completely agree.

  • DresdenFae

    I find it so offensive when people don’t send thank you notes. Clearly they don’t appreciate or like the gift and don’t want anything from me in the future. I have friends now that sent a text to my husband to thank us for our wedding gift to them. That is so tacky. I am furious and so very hurt. I spent the time picking out the gift and I spent the money. Yet DH gets what little thanks was given? Appalling. I don’t even care to retain a friendship with these people. But they are DH’s friends from before he was my husband and as he struggles with finding friends (we’re the only childless ones and not by choice) I can’t be as direct as I normally would be. Plus I’m an American living in the UK, so cultural differences abound. But I would think thank you notes are more of a basic human thing rather than an American thing.

    Now they are pregnant and I won’t be buying anything for their kid unless its a book on manners. They need to learn a lesson. It’s their loss. I give great baby gifts.

    • Amanda Lee

      You need to get that stick out of your ass. Maybe it’s not so much an “American” thing as it is a close social circle thing. If everyone in your social circle doesn’t send thank you notes, you can’t exactly say that your way is the right way. The majority outweighs you in this case. And frankly, I wouldn’t want you as a friend if you got so furious about this.

  • My2bits

    Honest question. Do you send thank you notes for gifts your child received in person? My son just had his 4 year old party with about six or seven friends. He thanked them all as he opened the gifts. Do we need to send notes too? Of the parties I have been to, it seems to be about 50/50. My mom never had us send them f we thanked the giver in person when we received the gift.

    • Bethany Ramos

      I sent thank you notes for my child’s first few birthday parties because we had a lot of family and childless friends come and give gifts. I am thinking that when we invite kids from his daycare or class, I may just do the digital photo thank you card that I mentioned in the post again. I am no expert! Good question. :)

  • CommentingPeg

    “After my son’s recent birthday party, I asked my husband to create a
    custom thank you picture of my son, made to look like a card. I sent
    this custom picture in a private message through Facebook to each person
    that attended the party, with a personal thank you added.”

    So you didn’t send a thank you note so much as an email. What was the point?

  • Mel

    Whenever my horrid mother rants and shames people for not thanking her properly, I always remind her that gift giving should be about the way it makes the recipient feel instead of the giver. Did she give the gift to make the other person happy, or did she give it so that she would feel special herself and get showered with appreciation? Of course, my other is a Narcissist, so the idea of doing things without it being only about her is not a possibility. But, I think the argument should apply to those who aren’t mentally ill as well. When you give a gift, do it with a generous heart and without expecting anything in return. That’s the only way it’s truly a gift – if it’s not about you expecting a parade of gratitude for yourself!

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  • guest

    HAND WRITTEN thank you notes are a must, especially for showers, weddings, and the like! Digital technology does not make it okay to treat people like they don’t matter to you and act entitled to the stuff you made a list in a store for them to buy you.

  • Guest101

    Thank you for this article. I went to a wedding about a year ago (I know couples have a year grace period, but still) and I gave them cash AND something off of the registry. I caught the bouquet, too! And months and months later, I get a mass produced thank you card with a printed message on the inside “thanks for sharing our special day”. That was it. No “dear so and so…”, no “thank you for the…..”, or “glad you caught the bouquet…”. Nothing. So, I spend money on transportation, a dress, a gift……and about 10 months later I get a very impersonal thank you note? Honestly, I was insulted. I know it can be tedious to write many thank you notes, but it is the right thing to do.