Monday, July 6, 2009

Thank You notes

This post requires reader participation. Yes, that means you, the one who never comments.

Here we go.

How important are thank you notes? I grew up with a mom that required me to write and send a thank you note for every flippin' thing. I always thought it seemed silly to send a thank you note for something that I opened while the person was right there and I said "thank you" to their face, often with a hug and a kiss, and then again when they/we left the house. I still think it's silly. And I don't do it anymore  (Write notes, that is.  I do still thank the person in person, often with a hug and a kiss.  As do my kids.)  And I don't require my kids to do it. I know Miss Manners is probably reading right now and she is going to track me down and force me and my kids to write all those notes that are over due!

There is an exception, however.  I do think notes are appropriate when you go to a party/celebration, say a wedding or graduation party, and you drop your gift at a table for the gifts to be opened at a later date, not in your presence.  Then I think a thank you note is "required".  Also, when a gift is received in the mail.  Unless of course, you call the person to thank them directly, in which case, a thank you note is no longer necessary.  Basically, though, as long as some kind of acknowledgement is given that the gift is appreciated, I don't think the thank you note itself is so important.

Recently, we were at my parents celebrating my dad's, my nephew's and my oldest son's birthdays.  My parents invited long time friends over to have dinner with us.  They were kind enough to give my son and my nephew each a gift.  My mom, being the passive aggressive person she is, quietly, but loud enough for me to hear, said to Big E, "That was really nice of Judy.  I am sure she would appreciate a thank you note."  Really, my mom was saying two things:
  1. "Your mom has the etiquette skills of a moron, so I am telling you, in her presence so she can hear me and LEARN FROM ME, that a thank you note is appropriate"
  2. "I think it is important that you send a thank you note."  Of course that "I" is my mom, not me.
So I did what I always do when my mom behaves this way.  I did the exact opposite.  I made sure Big E thanked the family friend when he opened the gift and then again before we left.  Good enough in my book.  No thank you note.

What do you people think?  Come on, I want to hear from all of you!


  1. Very important! Plus sending a hand written note is so classy these days when all people do is email, Facebook, and text each other.

  2. I agree with you, the thank you was given, no need for a note.

  3. I think a thank you note is a nice idea but I grew up in a non-thank you note kind of family and then married into a family that sends thank you's for EVERYTHING and I usually just say thank you in person or send a note if I opend the gift away from the giver. I would rather send random unexpected "thinking of you" type notes than send the expected thank you note.

  4. I am the worst thank you note writer ever!!! I always hated it when my mother made us write to Aunt Susie, and I'm no better now.

    And my kids? I'm sorry to say that I don't think they know what a thank you note is. . .

  5. There is a happy medium between an thank you note for everything including the kitchen sink and no note at all. My rule of thumb is if the giver is an adult "of a certain age" they get a note. Generational discrimination...

  6. I'm just curious....did your Dad send the friends a thank you note???

  7. Although I hate writing them, I do.
    This year I committed a big no no I am sure, and typed on a postcard with daughter and friend with gift on the back. I had 6 yo write a one liner and called it good.

  8. I think that since he thanked them at the party then a note wasn't needed. In other words, you are right!

  9. I think this sounds very much like a generational thing. People of our parents age and older almost expect a thank you note even in addition to an in person thank you because that's what they've done or grew up with. I know for a long time, my Grandmother would send us all $10 for our birthdays, no matter our age (it really was adorable) and she began to cut out those grandkids who wouldn't even acknowledge her thoughtfulness, and to that, I say rightly so. It doesn't take much to phone or, I imagine, jot a quick note. Personal thanks is so nice to get.

    However, all that said, really, I often let an in person thanks or a call pass as the thanks, and have also let my kids get by with that. However, when the gift was something incredibly nice or such, I do like to follow it up with a nice, brief note. I do know that when I've received a thank you note, it makes me smile.

  10. I grew up with thank you notes for everything, too, but I've been a little less insistent with my kids. If the gift is given and opened in person, I think a sincere 'thank you' is enough. I remember practicing how to say thank you in awkward situations (a hated gift, or a duplicate) with the boys when they were small.

    In my house,mailed gifts require a note or a phone call.

  11. Family and closer friends=spoken, no note
    casual friends, strangers, party guests=spoken +note

    Of course, I stink at remembering, but I try.

  12. If I am the giver, a thank you is only required for a formal event, such as a wedding so that I will know that the gift was actually received.
    If I am the receiver, then a written thank you is always required no matter how many times I've been thanked in person, on the phone, etc.
    It really shouldn't be thought of as old-fashioned or generational. It's easy and inexpensive.
    Here's a good way to think of it: have you ever received a note, a thank you for anything, that lifted your spirits and brightened your day? Don't count the one's that didn't or that you weren't moved by. Is there so much spirit lifting and brightening going on in this world that we should cut some out?
    There's a reason manners rules.
    At different times in our lives we will see things from different perspectives. Sometimes we will be overwhelmed with the daily workings of our lives and be tempted to let ourselves off the hook.
    And lastly, I'm surprised that this is an issur for someone who is a writer. Isn't writing thank you's of any kind another venue for your writing.

  13. What I meant to say is if I'm the receiver, no matter how many times I've said thank you in person . . .

  14. I am very big on thank you notes and I write them all the time. It's something that's getting lost with email and Facebook-- Which are NOT considered a proper thank you in my book. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I like getting snail mail.

  15. I agree with you. I also think an email or Facebook acknowledgment takes an extra, thoughtful step. As for Christmas, though, I sometimes think my kids should write a separate, handwritten note to grandmas, who always go overboard and don't get nearly enough kisses. Do we do it? No.

  16. P.S. I do love a thank you note in the mail, but usually, they are from kids who I know have been forced, and that, to me, is much less meaningful than their thinking of me enough to send me an email or hi on Facebook.

  17. I am with you 100%. I know when I'm 'supposed' to send thank you notes, and I know that they are appreciated, but I personally find it superfluous to thank someone when you open their present, again when they leave the party/house, and then yet again in writing. I enjoy getting notes in the mail, but I certainly don't hold it against anyone when I don't.

  18. Am finally I'm able to comment after 3 wks of not being able to!

    Actually now that I think of it, there are many who won't be happy about that....

    Er...what was the question??