From the time our kids are just beginning to talk, we work with them on saying two very important words, “Thank you.” Gratitude…appreciation…thankfulness…that’s what we want them to feel when an act of kindness has been done for them. We teach them to pay attention when people go out of their way to do nice things for them, and that they should never just expect it. As they grow, we count on the fact they have learned to “say” thank you, and we move in to “showing” thanks. One way my mother taught me to “show” thanks was the simple act of writing a thank-you note.
Hand-writing a thank-you note is evidence you went the extra mile to show appreciation — just like the gift giver went out of their way to purchase a gift and give it to you.
Etiquette requires you to send a thank-you note in the following situations:
- Wedding Gifts
- Bridal shower and baby shower gifts
- Holiday, birthday, Bar/Bat mitzvah, graduation, and housewarming gifts
- Sympathy letters, flowers, mass cards, or donations made in the deceased’s name
Thank-you notes are not required but are a nice gesture in the following situations:
- When a host has treated you to a cocktail party, dinner, or concert
- After a job interview
- Anytime you feel particularly indebted or grateful to someone
If you lack motivation, stock up on some beautiful cards, stamps, and a nice ink pen. Half the battle is just having what you need. When writing the note remember to say how you plan to use the gift and mention your relationship to the giver. I was married 23 years ago and there are still a few gifts that I remember who gave them to me, probably because I took the time to focus on each gift and write a note to the giver.
Recently I attended a wedding and took a gift to the reception. The gift table was over-flowing and no one was there to attend it, so I put my gift underneath the table. It was a full place setting of the china for which the couple had registered. A few months after the wedding, I started to notice that I hadn’t received a thank-you note. I began to wonder if they saw the gift under the table. I didn’t feel comfortable asking the bride if she received the gift because I didn’t want to make her feel bad about not writing a thank you note. So, I’m still left to wonder if they received the gift. Sounds like a Seinfeld episode, huh? Next time I will use RegistryFinder.com, order the gift online, and have it sent to the couple. That way I don’t have to take to the reception and wonder if it made it home with the very busy couple.
In this culture of instant communication, some people feel it is O.K. to send an email to say “thank you.” Others think just a verbal “thank you” is acceptable. But in my opinion, nothing takes the place of a beautifully handwritten note that is actually mailed via snail mail. Every gift deserves a thank-you note and every gift giver deserves a thank-you.
by Jennifer Palmer