Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Opinion on Thank You Notes

It seems like Erika had mentioned a while back that I should do a post on thank you notes and I don't think I ever got around to it... until today. You see, Erika and I are sticklers for thank you notes, but sadly, Erika and I are a dying breed. What got me thinking about writing on the subject was that I am writing the thank you notes for the food, flowers, etc. on behalf of my family for all the kind things people did for us after the passing of my grandfather; and so, since I am knee deep in thank you notes, I figured I might as well blog about them too.

I suppose these days thank you notes are most often written when someone receives a gift; most often a wedding or baby gift. Most web sites I've searched say to send a thank you note as soon as possible, within 48 hours if you can. I've been to a lot of wedding showers, weddings and baby showers were the guest of honor has received hundreds of gifts and let's face it, sending out 100 thank you notes within 48 hours is next to impossible. I know my hand starts cramping after just a few and I can only imagine the state of my hand after hundreds. Of course, with a wedding, the groom sometimes helps (I can hear you chuckling) but more often than not the bride is the one who does all the writing. In my opinion, for a large shower where a large number of gifts are received, all notes should be written within two weeks and thank you notes for gifts received at a wedding should be written upon return from the honeymoon and sent out as quickly as possible. The same applies for baby gifts as well. If you receive hundreds of gifts then I think a two week limit is appropriate. If you are receiving just a handful or gifts or one at a time, then write the note immediately.

You may think these are some strict rules for thank you notes, but to me it's just common courtesy. I, for one, get pretty upset when I don't receive a thank you note from someone for a wedding or baby gift and then I usually call Erika and say, "Can you believe I sent so-and-so a gift and it's been one month and I still have not received a thank you note". I don't know about the rest of you, but when I don't receive a thank you note, it makes me less inclined to buy that person a gift again in the future. I personally find it to be quite rude and thoughtless. In fact, I can give you a list of names of people for whom I bought a gift and never received a thank you note. It's not something I mentally try to track, it's just something that sticks out and leaves a less than favorable impression.

When someone in your family passes and you received food, flowers, etc., I think it is best to write the notes and send them out no later than a week after the funeral, which is why I am in a crunch this week to send out cards. I am mailing them as I get them completed and have done about 15 so far and have probably 20 or 30 more to do, or at least that's how it seems, I really haven't counted. It just seems like my list grows by the minute. I've had to track down a lot of people to get various addresses which has also slowed my process, but thank you notes are important to me and I want them done properly and sent out promptly.
Other times where thank you notes should be written are when you receive birthday gifts, when someone brings you food when you are sick, when someone volunteers to watch your children so you can go out to dinner with your spouse, etc. Use your best judgment - typically when someone does something nice for you, a thank you note is the best answer.

I was thinking this week, and I think this was mentioned in a grief seminar at church one time, that a really nice gift for families who have lost someone would be a basket of thank you notes and stamps. I hope to remember to provide this for people in the future because it would certainly have come in handy for us.
Now, there are times when I think you can skip the thank you notes. For example, at Christmas when you are exchanging gifts with family and friends, I think it's okay to skip a thank you note. However, if you receive a gift from someone unexpectedly, it's always nice to send a thank you note. You certainly don't want to appear ungrateful.

Over the weekend, or maybe it was one day last week, I had the Today Show on while I was getting ready and they had a gentleman on and he was discussing various topics of etiquette. His name was Philip Galanes and he writes an article for The New York Times called Social Q. Anyway, one of the topics he was discussing was thank you notes. Apparently he had interviewed some children for the piece and one of the children said something along the lines of "if I have to write a thank-you note I had rather not get a gift." I'm pretty sure I had to pick myself up off the floor after hearing that. I was so shocked and quite frankly appalled. Although with the state of our nation, it really should not have come as that much of a surprise. Clearly, thank you notes will soon be a thing of the past and Erika and I will be the only ones left writing them.

Y'all it really doesn't take that much effort to write a thank you note. Even with the cost of stamps rising, you can still send a thank you note for less than $2 (including the cost of the card) and a little time and it will bring the recipient a lot of joy and gratefulness that you took time out of your day to remember that you appreciate them taking time and spending money on you.

You can call me old fashioned or a stick in the mud but as long as I live I will be a stickler for the thank you note and I hope you will be as well. Vive le thank you note!

Reminder: You have until tomorrow night at 11:59 p.m. to enter the Fourth Blogiversary Giveaway. No thank you note required if you win. 

1 comment:

Erika said...

Preach on, sister! lol
I actually have slipped a little on this, but this has fired me up again!
I CANNOT BELIEVE the comment from that child...and people wonder why are country is going down the drain....but I digress ;)
That idea of stamps and notecards is fabulous - I'll have to remember that. Although, for a sad situation like that, I don't look for thank you notes. The families have so much else to deal with.