Thank You Notes: Old-Fashioned?

Well, I’m with Miss Manners on this one. Write thank-you notes. Always.

Whoever gave the gift took the time to (a) think about you (b) buy or make something © wrap it (d) bring or mail it. Not even thinking about the cost, how about the time they spent? If it’s not worth it to you to spend 5 minutes writing, “Hey Aunt Sally, thanks for the widget! It’s neat. Love, Niece,” then why should Aunt Sally bother to do so again?

You don’t have to get a fancy special card, just have a box of note cards on hand. In a pinch, take a piece of printer paper, scrawl a note and stuff it in an envelope.

Hell no! When has basic politeness and courtesy become old-fashioned?

Oh, yeah: 1955. :wink:

But seriously, we send them and we expect them.

I can see Eve peering over the top of her loirgnette. “Really!”

There may be cases among close friends and family where an e-mail or (gasp!) phone call is sufficient to acknowledge a gift. But for someone who found your stupid registry, shelled out money for a gift, drove 150 miles for your weeding and paid for a hotel to stay overnight, you can damn well take five minutes to scrounge up a stamp.

Just for the record, my handwriting is so atrocious that my wife says she never has trouble forging my signature, since she “can use either foot to sign it.” I simply tell myself that the recipient is charmed by the effort someone who is obviously near-illiterate took to write a note.

Wow, they don’t acknowledge your gifts at all? That’s harsh, and definitely grounds for not giving them things anymore.

I’m not a huge fan of writing thank you notes, but I always do so if I couldn’t thank the giver in person or if it’s particularly significant. I don’t think it’s old-fashioned at all, as long as nobody’s going to be a stickler about the medium of thanks.

Put upon by a thank you note?? Egads, what’s the world coming to??

Well, I think what’s important is that the giver of the the gift be thanked - be it phone call, thank you note or even email. When my best friend sends me a gift I invariably call her to thank her. To send her a thank you note would seem a bit formal since we are so close…but with anyone else it’s a thank you note!

I don’t happen to own a lorgnette, but I think thank you notes are the cornerstone of civilization (said in old fart voice). I will no doubt torture my future child into writing them, as my lovely mother did with me…Long live the thank you note!

Rule at the Shodan household: Thou mayest not play with the toy/spend the dough/wear the clothing until after thou hast mailed the thank-you note.

A good way to spend the hour after breakfast on Christmas morning.

Knowing the rules of traditional etiquette gives you power. My children get more presents than some of their relatives, because they have been trained to encourage that kind of behavior with thank you notes. I got at least two job offers because I follow up interviews with written letters thanking the interviewer for his time and attention.

Other kinds of formal etiquette as well. I have a colleague who still talks about the time he was introduced to my son (four years old at the time). My son did exactly as he was trained to do upon being introduced to an adult - look him straight in the eye, shake his hand and say, “Happy to meet you, Mr. LastName”.

It is less common than it used to be - and all the more powerful for that reason.


More and more I have parents introduce me to their kids as my first name. No Ms. or Mrs. Just, “Ashleigh, this is Urban. Can you say Urrr-baan?” Not my kids; you’re going to be intoduced as Mr./Ms. LastName and they’re going to call you that until you say otherwise.

Thank you notes in the Hall Household are not optional, never had been, never will be. As a result, I frequently receive hand written notes from the Hallgirls from college, thanking me for the money/lunch in collegetown with them/small gift in the mail/talking them through a rough time in life/etc. These notes go far beyond a “thanks for X”, but are often a reflection of their notice and appreciation of an act or thoughful gesture which went beyond the mere superficial presence of an item, and shows the meaning which the act (or gift) held to the recipient. (This, by the way, swings both ways. They frequently get thank you notes from me as well.)

Hallboy also writes thank you notes for gifts. This all began when they were very little and before they could write. Thank you notes at that time were thank you pictures, drawn by Hallmunchkins.

I know for a fact that a handwritten thank you notes after the interview put me ahead of several other canidates for my current (and my last) employment.

Anne Neville hit the nail on the ehad for why I rarely send them. I am an unorginized, messy slob, and even if I had them on hand, I would never fidn them. Thenm I have to write on them, and I tense up at what to say. For some reason, I feel that saying “thank you or the gift” is somehow wrong, so I usualyl end up going
“Thanks so much for the gift. I really appreciate it!

Which I then look at and it looks…forced, like they will think I’m not really thankful for it (I am!) And my handwriting is also horrible, and I print, which makes it look so…informal. But if I wrote in cursive, that couldn’t read it. I have tried to write neatly, and I cannot. Even if I take an hour to make one letter it will not look nice…ever. It honestly looks like a five-year old wrote the damn thing, which then makes me feel bad for sending them this crappy, non-sincere looking card.

So, after then writing it, I now have to get an envelope. Well, these usually come with the cards, so odds are it will be with them. Oooh…now a stamp…I never have stamps. What do I need stamps for? Now I need to go to the post office! Oh, wait, I can’t, because they are never open when I am free. I don’t get back from work until at least 5:30, and they close at 5. That means I have to wait until the weekend and get there in that scant window of 10-12.

So, I ahve stamps, I apply them, now I have to remember to mail them. I have the WORST short term memory. After I out the stamps on, I will toss them in a pile and forget about them, until a week later when I see them and remember “oh yeah, need to send those out.” It will then be another week before theyare in the mail. Oh, and odds are it was about a month after I got the gift that I set out to initially write them.

So, two moths after sending me a gift, they got a crappy card, with bad-handwriting and a hokey message. I honestly think that they will think that I am an incompetant, ungrateful idiot. That’s why I prefer to be present when I get as gift, so I can say thank you to their face right then and there, I don’t think there’s a need for a card the, is there?

I love writing thank you notes.

For our wedding shower, I did them that night and got them out into the post office by 6-7 pm, and everyone got them on Monday or Tuesday.

Took only a week after a honeymoon to write them all out for our wedding presents.

Took only a day of writing them out for a baby shower thank you.

And they are not pre-written or even pre-addressed. Not to brag, but I am da bomb.

How hard is it to write:

Dear X, I wanted to thank you for the lovely XYZ gift you gave me. You shouldn’t have, but I"m glad you did. Your thoughtfulness is appreciated, but what I would really like from you is your banana bread recipe that you won’t share. You bastard!

Not that I am bitter…no sirree.


Keepin’ it real

Actually, you can still score points by including a charming apology for your lateness.

Never underestimate the power of the note. One of the many (many, many) reasons I become obnoxiously overblown in my praises of my Darling Daughter is that she slips little notes into my briefcase, and, this morning, taped to the door to the garage.

Did I mention that she is charming, intelligent, beautiful, and thoroughly delightful in every conceivable way?


They really aren’t hard to write.

Dear X.

Thanks for the book/CD/sweater/money. I look forward to reading it/listening to it/wearing it/using it to buy an X (specify). [Optional: How sweet of you to remember my favorite author/singer/color!].

You are such a nice relative/friend/person who gives random gifts – I’m lucky to have you in my life.



I feel the same way about one of my two godchildren.
I have never received any sort of acknowledgement for the gifts I’ve given her over the years so I’ve stopped bothering.
If I have taken the time to ask your parents what you would like, driven into the city to purchase the gift, and then brought it to your house, you can at least take the time to thank me for it.

The other godchild is being raised by parents who operate on the Shodan principle of thank you notes.
I always receive a cute little card in the mail within the week.
Guess who I continue to enjoy shopping for?

I may have to take the minority position here and admit that I don’t like thank you notes very much. They always seem so forced and fake.

When I give a gift, I don’t want to receive a thank you note. In my mind, that just puts a burden on the recipient and doesn’t really tell me anything (since they will feel obligated to thank me even if they hated my gift). If I took a lot of time picking something out and am particularly interested in how it was received, I will ask someone else (often a mutual friend/relative) who can give me honest feedback.

On the flip side, if someone is going to be offended or disturbed by not receiving a thank-you note, then I would prefer that they don’t give me a gift.

Fortunately, most of my family is on the same wavelength in this regard. We give gifts when we find something neat to give, we don’t worry about thank-you notes, and we try not to give meaningless gifts just because it’s the gift-giving time of year.

Perhaps I should qualify this slightly. If someone has solicited a gift or donation, then a thank you note or other acknowledgement should be sent. For example, if a charitable organization has asked for money, then it should definitely acknowledge every donation it receives (and should do so before sending out new solicitations!).
On a similar note, if I ask someone for money, a hand-me-down, etc, then I should be sure to offer heartfelt thanks and probably a nice email or note.

A “thank you” note in my book is just common courtesy and proper etiquette. I understand our lives are busy, but it really does not take that much time or effort to compose a thoughtful “thank you.”

So if I am old fashioned, well then, so be it! I also like receiving those thoughtful “thank you” notes and certainly do not feel “put upon.”