Thank You Notes
The Why and The How!
What Emily Post has to say about it...(She was an etiquette expert...yes, they have etiquette experts! Is that weird?)
It’s always correct to send handwritten thank-you’s, and people always appreciate them. Handwritten notes are warmer and more personal than a phone call or email, and only second best to thanking someone in person. The general rule is: If you open a gift in the presence of the giver, then your verbal thanks are sufficient. For example, when you receive a hostess gift, or a holiday/birthday gift from a good friend or relative and you open it and express your sincere thanks personally, then a follow-up thank-you is optional. If the giver wasn’t present, then a phone call is fine. Email is great when you just need to say a simple thanks quickly. Here’s a rundown of when a note is expected:
- Wedding or baby shower gifts. After giving shower gifts, the majority of people consider it rude if they don’t receive a written note of thanks even if you’ve given thanks in person.
- Wedding gifts. Each wedding gift should be acknowledged with a written note within three months of receipt of the gift, even when you’ve given thanks in person.
- Congratulatory gifts or cards. Send a note to anyone who sends a present or card with a personally written message to acknowledge an accomplishment, such as a graduation or promotion.
- Gifts received when sick. Notes should be written when the patient feels well enough, or a relative or close friend can write notes on his or her behalf.
- Sympathy notes or gifts. Send a written thank-you to anyone who sent a personal note, flowers, or a donation. It’s fine for a close friend or relative to write notes on the recipient’s behalf.
Different Gifts, Different Thank-You Notes
Different kinds of gifts and occasions merit some tweaking to the standard thank-you note.
- Gifts of money. In your note, let the giver know how you’ll use a money gift—to furnish your apartment or add to your savings. It’s up to you whether you mention the amount, but doing so let’s the giver know the funds arrived intact.
- Holiday and birthday gifts. Write thank-you notes for holiday and birthday gifts as soon as possible, preferably within two or three days. A good standard is to acknowledge Christmas or Chanukah gifts before New Year’s Day.
- Other gifts. Thank-you notes are not always necessary for presents that have been given in person at a housewarming, going away party, or similar occasion. If a sincere thank-you was expressed in person when the gift was received, that’s sufficient.
- Thank-you gifts. Gifts sent as a “thank you for…” require a note of appreciation in return. It’s necessary to let the sender know that the present arrived and is appreciated.
- Acknowledgment cards. Printed acknowledgment cards expressing appreciation can be used in three instances:
- After the death of a prominent person when scores of sympathy notes, gifts of flowers, or donations to charities are received. They can also be used as a placeholder acknowledgement until a personal note of thanks can be written.
- When a public official is elected and receives a landslide of congratulatory messages.
- When a bride has such a large wedding that she and the groom simply cannot write personal thank-you notes immediately.
- A newspaper “Card of Thanks.” In some small towns and rural areas, it is not only permissible but expected that recipients of a large number of gifts or contributions—after a birthday, anniversary, retirement party, funeral, or even political campaign—put a public “thank you” in the newspaper. The notice is typically headed “Card of Thanks” and is followed by a brief message.