Thank You Notes
Berkeley Parents Network >
Holidays and Special Events >
Thank You Notes
Sometimes I am given small gifts (a bottle of wine, or a few
chocolates, for ex.) as a ''thank you,'' from colleagues. Is it
considered proper (or desirable) to give them a thank you note
in return? To me it seems odd to say ''thank you'' to someone
for saying ''thank you.'' But some friends maintain that a gift,
regardless of its size or purpose, must always be followed by a
thank you note. What say ye?
Hmmm. What an interesting question! Well, what do you expect
when someone gives you a thank you gift? I don't expect more
than a verbal thank you when I give a thank you gift. And though
I like to think I live in polite society, I've never received a
thank you note for a thank you gift.
It's a tough one, but I always err on the side of too many thanks, not too few. An
etiquette professional will probably say it's not necessary to thank someone for a
thank-you gift. BUT, this is a gift that you are receiving, and I always thank people for
any GIFT. If it's just a thank-you card, the interaction is over, but I think a gift
deserves a thank you note. You can buy them very cheaply at Current.com. I refuse to
pay full price for cards from a shop these days, and, as you can tell, I send a lot of
cards! I think it's the right thing to do.
We attended a local wedding reception of an acquaintance at the
end of October to which we brought some food (a potluck wedding
reception) and a nice gift. We've never gotten a thanks from
the couple. Is it okay to ask whether they received the gift.
I'm concerned that, because the package was rather small and
the gifts were unattended in a room without much traffic, it
might have been snatched. Or should I just assume they got it
and forget about it. I must admit I'm feeling a bit resentful
about this and distancing myself emotionally from this
acquaintance. Thanks for any input.
I think you should ask if they received it. When we got
married, there were actually 2 gifts that were not delivered
properly. One family asked about it a few months later, and
when we said we didn't receive it, they gave us a replacement
gift. The second family said they heard from the store (3
years later) that our gift never got sent, and they gave us a
replacement. Now, to be honest, I don't believe the second
family--I think they forgot to send a gift, and made up the
story to cover themselves. But in any case, I was glad both
families weren't left to think that we were just rude in not
sending a thank you note.
Hmm. Is it more rude to take a long time to write a thank you
note or to hold a grudge because one was not received? If you
are concerned, do the work of politely asking if they received
the gift. Then let the couple--whose lives might be pretty busy
setting up a new household--rise to the occassion of thanking
you. But when concern etiquette gets in the way of kindness and
good will, toss the etiquette out! Relationships are much more
I had a similar issue once. My husband's cousin got married and
we weren't invited, but my mother-in-law was. We knew that they
weren't able to invite everybody, because they have a large
family and they had to draw the line somewhere. We were very
happy for them and gave my MIL an envelope with money to give
to them. We never received a thank you. I hate to say it, but I
was worried that my MIL might have taken the money, because she
had some financial issues going on at the time. Then I felt
guilty about the fact that I was accusing my MIL of this, so I
decided that I wanted to know. Either way I needed to know. I
sent a note to the cousin and asked how things were going, etc.
Then I asked if they ever received our gift. She immediately
sent a reply apologizing for the fact that they hadn't sent out
Thank You notes yet and thanked us very much for the money.
Pfff, I felt a lot better!
So, moral of the story: ask if they received it. Let them feel
bad for (possibly) not having sent you a Thank You note,
instead of feeling anxious about it yourself
I am usually a pretty conscientious and prompt thankyou writer,
however, the year leading up to my wedding and the year
following I felt extremely overwhelmed*. I didn't write my
wedding thankyous for months. Had a few people inquire
directly and indirectly if we had received their gift--which is
fine to do though it made me feel a bit antsy. Felt very
guilty about it. Finally got it done.
*Not only was there the meshing of households, getting used to
my partner and planning the wedding, but then there's assessing
all the gifts and determining if you're going to use them,
where they go, if you're going to get rid of them (not yours,
of course!), etc
Newlyweds have up to 3 months to write their thank you notes. Emily Post writes:
''It is certainly OK to call and ask the couple if they received the gift. If you find this
too awkward and the gift was sent from a store, you can call the store and have it
traced. Just as a gift should be sent right away or within three months of a wedding,
a thank you note should be written right away or, at the very least, within three
months of receiving a gift.''
I believe the etiquette gurus say you have three months to get
out your thank you notes, so technically your hosts have til the
end of January to send you one. I have to say, in my experience
more and more people who otherwise conduct their lives in a kind,
thoughtful, warm-hearted manner are now neglecting to send thanks
for the wedding gifts they receive. Maybe some people from this
camp will respond to your post and explain their reasoning (they
think it's old-fashioned/un-necessary? they hate to write? it's a
task they just procrastinate out of existence?). Given how this
trend is growing, if you never do receive written thanks from
your friends I encourage you to find it in your heart to forgive
them, rather than letting go of the friendship over this issue.
(Though I really do understand how aggravating it is to pick out
a gift for someone and never hear from them that they received or
appreciated it!) I highly doubt that your gift was stolen, but if
you like you could say at some point, ''I hope you liked the
blah-blah-blah,'' and you'd probably receive the partial
gratification of an enthusiastic reply, ''Oh, yes, it's wonderful!''
thank you note believer
Doesn't that just drive you crazy? I'm not sure if this is the
correct thing to do, but I've asked friends if they have
received gifts if I haven't heard anything back from them after
a month or two. I don't think there's anything wrong with
bringing it up
Thank you notes are a must
Ask if they got the gift. It's the right thing to do. Some
people are just really bad about thank you notes
How would Miss Manners approach this? I'm not sure, and I'm not
perfect, but here are some ideas, since you asked. First, if
thank you notes are important to you, then you should send them
when you get a gift; however, it is good to accept the fact that
not everyone has the same set of social rules. Second, think
about why you gave the gift and brought the food (It sounds like
you want to be thanked for the food, too, or you wouldn't have
brought it up). Was it to participate in the celebration and
make the couple happy? If so, one could assume that you
succeeded in that. I never hear of gifts being stolen at wedding
receptions (do you?), so one could assume it wasn't stolen. Is
it that you want to make sure it wasn't stolen? Would you
replace it if it were? Or is it that you need the thank you card
in order to feel appreciated and respected? Were you thanked in
person at the party? I think Miss Manners says that if you are
thanked in person, that a thank you not is not ''required''.
Third, this IS about them and not about you, right? I imagine
they are busy and overwhelmed by just getting married and all
that comes with that....and now the holidays..yikes! If you
can't let it go, then, yes, you can ask them in a note, a holiday
card, by email, by phone or in person) to confirm that they did
get your gift off the gift table at the party. Do think ahead of
time about how they might respond and how you'll feel about their
potential responses. It may be good to let them know now what
you expect out of a friendship, and if your expectations do not
match their abilities, it may be best to cut it off now.
As a firm believer in thank you notes, I think you should ask. I don't think its polite to
berate the person and get all high and mighty, but you are well within your limits to
simply express concern that the gift might have been lost. Now, they might get all
defensive on the thank you thing so just play it cool, but I think you should ask
wishing people would write their darn notes
Throwing a wedding where your guests are asked to bring the food
and then accepting a whole bunch of presents and then not sending
anyone a thank you note is R-U-D-E RUDE! You're totally justified
in cutting them off - they sound like a pair of moochers and
you're not even that close to them
Miss Manners would not approve!
You should wait till January and then ask (sometimes it takes them
a few months to write all the notes).
At our wedding, we ended up with one wrapped wedding gift that had no card - no
idea who sent it, because a number of guests were "unaccounted" for,
so we couldn't write a note. Same thing might have
What is the standard etiquette for ''thank you'' cards for gifts at a child's
birthday party? Most of my friends always send out ''thank you'' cards for
birthday gifts they have received from us. However, ever since my daughter
started kindergarten at a public school, she has attended several birthday
parties for her class mates, and we haven't seen one single ''thank you'' card
from any of the parents for the gifts we gave to their children. Is this normal? I
guess it really bugs me because I feel like I go through alot of trouble to buy
gifts and attend parties for children and their parents who I don't know anyting
about, nor do I have anything in common with. I guess for all that trouble I
should at least get a ''thank you''. Am I being silly and oversensative? Am I
missing something here? Am I old fashion? Or am I just hanging out with a
different sort of crowd than what I'm use to?
Trying To Understand
I hear you, sister. Since my kid was two I have had him dictate
thank you notes for every present he receives, birthday or
Christmas, that doesn't come from his parents. At 7, he now
writes lovely thank you notes that Emily Post would admire. So
I cringe when the present that he carefully picks out for
friends receives no acknowledgement, or, equally bad in my
book, a fill-in-the-blank form note. Still, I figure my kid and
yours are going to have an advantage in life -- good manners --
and part of having good manners is letting other people's bad
Please, please, please DO NOT lower your standards of what is
basic common courtesy just because families you are associating
with have. You are not being silly. Basic manners are not
old-fashioned, but certainly will be old news if more and more
people give up.
I am just like you--make a real effort to be thoughtful about
attending parties and having suitable gifts for other children. I
also ALWAYS send thank you notes (or have my kids do
it--sometimes it's a fun project.) I am always amazed by the
couple parents who make comments to me like I am some kind of
super-mom for getting thank you notes out amidst my busy family
life. I just remind them that it is common courtesy and basic
manners. Hopefully all of the families getting thank you notes
from people like me and you will help them remember that.
And, as I always remind my children, if someone took the time
(and money!) to go to a store, select a gift, wrap it and give it
to them, the least they can do is take 3-4 minutes to write a
thank you note. I also tell them that if it is too hard to write
15 notes, then perhaps we should not invite 15 kids to the party.
Sorry to rant, but I really think we all have a part in keeping
our ''civilization'' from going into total decline
Good ettiquite is to always send a thank-you card for a gift, no
matter the age of the recipient. If the child can't write the
note herself, the parent should write one in her place. You're
right, you should recieve a thank-you note for your effort, but
sadly enough, few people recognize this small token of civility
anymore. Don't let it bug you. Just set a good example by
continuing to write your thank-you notes. I'm a devoted
thank-you-noter, and my good habits have influenced my neice, my
sister, my husband(!), and some of my friends too, who now also
write thank-you notes.
the thank-you-note queen
You can't control if people send you thank you notes.
They should send them, but you can't really do anything if they
don't (and yes, people don't).
Don't let that stop you! It's such a kind thing, to let them
know that your child received and liked the present. Your child
should write the notes themselves if they're old enough, or at
least sign their name, or draw a pic if they are younger.
I make my kids send thank you notes before I let them play with
the toys they have received, or wear the clothes. It's a good
incentive, and makes them really think about why they have this
You are not being silly. You should be receiving thank you notes. However, I don't
believe you should stew about it. Unfortunately, many people dont' think thank you
notes are necessary these days or, gasp, they think email will do.
My advice is to not judge others about it, but to make SURE you teach your kids
thank you notes ARE necessary. I am a firm believer in them. I also learned through
the years that people are so touched by thank you notes, it's my little thing I do
make the world a better place.
So, ignore the cads who aren't gracious in this world, and don't be one or raise
children to be that way. We have to start with ourselves. If you went on a tirade
the people who don't send them, then you'd be the one looking bad. Unfair, but
tha't how it works.
I do wish people would make a point to do this, tho. I have been to some elaborate
weddings, parties, bearing gifts and then the event happens and you don't hear a
peep. It just seems appropriate to acknowledge gifts
Ok, this is totally pathetic and I realize it, but I'm going to say it anyway.
After the last two birthday parties I've given for my son, I've bought thank
you notes and fully intended to send them. I take careful notes on what
present was given by each child who came. And then, suddenly, it's four
months later, and I find that unused pack of invitations while cleaning
out the office, and I feel like a jerk for not sending them -- but also feel
too silly to send them this long after the party.
The moral of my sad little story is, lots of people have the best of
intentions and the worst of organizational skills, so please, don't take it
personally. We know the etiquette, and we definitely do believe you
deserve a thank you. We just don't say it. We feel guilty, and we're very
Doesn't send those Christmas cards either
Is it just me, or is there something classist and snobby about
your post? I guess it's that you felt it important to point
out that your daughter now goes to a public school, ''a
different sort of crowd than you're used to.'' Why not just
send ''thank you'' notes for the gifts your daughter receives and
not worry about what others do or don't do? Is the joy of
giving in the act of generosity or in the recognition of it?
Thank you's should be sent. I find that the people I admire &
respect send thank=you's-if you don't have time to send thank
yous, you shouldn't invite people to the party. That said, some
people just don't. I don't think you're being silly &
insensitive. You're courteous. I feel a bit resentful at not
even having a gift acknowledged. How do you know they even got
it? Even if it says nothing more than ''thanks.'' it's great. But
I have recently stopped going through so much trouble for people
who can't bother with thanks. It's better that way. I would
never even return a borrowed item without at least a piece of
paper that says thank you. At least it acknowledges that you
appreciated it. And if you can't say thanks, even in some very
small way, to me it conveys that you don't appreciate the
effort, or you are too busy to acknoweldge my effort, and
therefore I'll limit my efforts in the future
I believe you are totally right to feel upset about the lack of
thank you notes for the gifts you/your child have given.
Unfortunately, the lack of expressions of gratitude is becoming
more and more commonplace nowadays - but that doesn't make it right.
An email acknowledgment is, I guess, okay in this electronic
age... but how nice is it to receive a piece of mail that's not a
bill or junk??? Kindergarten children are at a great age to be
taught the importance of saying thank you. ''Writing'' a note with
the assistance of their parents (and signing their own name if
they can) is a great activity for teaching this valuable lesson.
Even if you and your daughter never get a thank you note from the
other students or their parents, I still encourage you to send
them out to acknowledge kindnesses or gifts you've received. Your
example is the best teacher for your daughter. And one of your
notes just might inspire its recipient to send out a thank you in
Thank-you writing mamma
Standard etiquette is that the child should send thank you notes
for all children's birthday gifts. Preschool children should
decorate or otherwise contribute as they are able to the notes
their parents write; children capable of doing so should dictate
the note to a parent and then sign their own names; children
capable of writing the note themselves should do so.
I think the main PURPOSE of children's birthday parties is
teaching them how to graciously give and receive gifts! Which
is why it really bugs me that so many kids no longer open their
gifts AT the party, but that's a tangent. In fact, there is an
exception to the traditional requirement for a written thank you
note (for any gift, not just children's birthday gifts): If the
gift was given and received in person, and the giver was
verbally thanked, then a written note is not required. It is
never improper to send one anyway, but it is not required.
So if the parties you're talking about did involve the recipient
opening the gifts on the spot and issuing verbal thanks, then
the lack of a note shouldn't bother you. But I suspect that's
not the case, and the parents are simply being rude. Probably
because they're overwhelmed by the task, which is probably
because they weren't taught how to do it by THEIR parents...but
still, you are quite correct; it's rude.
Perhaps this is an opportunity to teach your daughter that it is
often good and right to spend time and effort on giving to other
people, without an expectation of receiving anything in return,
even thanks -- but that sometimes it's okay to decide that
certain people are no longer worth wasting time and effort on,
Loves Parties, Does the Notes
I've never had my children write thank you notes, nor have I
written notes for their gifts since the baby showers. It has
always been my understanding that if you open a gift in the
presence of the giver you say thank you in person, and then you
are done (except for bridal/baby shower gifts). When gifts are
sent to my child by family and friends I call and both my child
and I thank the person over the phone.
Personally, when I give a gift I try do it with a ''no strings
attached'' point of view... I expect nothing (including a thank
you note) in return. While I would prefer that a gift left at a
party or shipped be acknowledged in some way, (so I am sure it
wasn't lost or stolen,) I assume that everyone is as busy as I
am and doesn't have time to live up to all of the ''shoulds'' of
others. Heck, we're so busy we don't even invite anyone but
immediate family to our kids parties!
I'm with you on this one. I could have written your post
myself! Writing thank you notes is unfortunately becoming a
lost art due to grown-ups who are either too lazy to do it, or
think it isn't important, or are maybe from a different culture
who don't do this(?). It's unfortunate that parents aren't
teaching their kids this courtesy, and soon it will be as
obsolete as opening doors for others before you or giving up a
bus seat to an elderly person or pregnant woman. I'm often
baffled when my child doesn't receive a thank-you note for a
birthday gift he has given--it makes me think that the
recipient of the gift did not even bother to notice who gave
him/her what and just opened a bunch of presents and threw them
in a big pile. But I commend you for teaching your child the
importance of writing thank you notes! Keep trying, even if we
are a diminishing breed!
Fan of Miss Manners
Oh I KNOW! Isn't it shocking? Seriously, you must have come to
my daughter's birthday party! I'm just kidding, but I am one of
those hopeless moms who doesn't send out thank you cards, or
only gets around to sending out a few. Every year I say I will
change and every year I don't. And if I may speak for others
like me, I apologize profusely and I can tell you that we really
appreciate your gifts and all the trouble you went through to
pick them out. But that is not going to change the fact that
although we want very much to send these cards out, it probably
isn't going to happen. So I suggest you work on accepting the
fact that even though it's the right thing to do and the
gracious thing to do and the polite thing to do (no, of course
you're not old fashioned!), we just aren't going to get to it.
Personally, I work more than full time and have an extremely
busy life juggling just the ''necessities.'' I'm just not that
organized. It is a miracle that I feed my family and keep a
roof over our heads. I guess thank you cards are not a priority
for me, because if they were, I guess I would write them! I
feel guilty and boorish, but there it is. Maybe in my next life
my behavior will improve? In exchange, I never expect a thank
you card from anyone and am always thrilled and excited to
receive one. I hope you will forgive us delinquents. (Just
think, in the time it took to write this, I could've sent out 4
more thank you cards!)
I Failed Basic Etiquette
I too think it is a bit rude not to send a thank you card but it does seem to be
trend (about half does and the other half does not). Try to think of it from a zen
perspective; as the giver your only responsibility is to give with no expectations.
you get a thank you card - how nice. If you don't, who cares - you gave because you
I too think it is a bit rude not to send a thank you card but it does seem to be
trend (about half does and the other half does not). Try to think of it from a zen
perspective; as the giver your only responsibility is to give with no expectations.
you get a thank you card - how nice. If you don't, who cares - you gave because you
I personally believe in thank you notes, but I've heard that some
people go by the rule that if you open the gift in front of the
giver and thank them in person, then a thank you note is not
required. Thinking back to my own youth, I don't recall sending
thank you notes to my friends for birthday presents, but I do
remember sending them to out-of-state relatives. However, I think
teaching kids the habit of expressing thanks is important, and I
would encourage you to continue the practice--perhaps you will
inspire some other families
I know there have been lots of responses already, but I feel
compelled to weigh in. I am one of those parents who, despite my
best intentions, almost never sends thank you notes. Why?
Because I have two kids, ages 2 and 4, and an almost full time
job (90%) that is actually more hours than most people's full
time jobs, to which I have to commute 2 hours a day. I am
fortunate to have a loving husband, but he works different hours
than me, which means that when I am home, I am often home alone
with the kids, and have to feed them, bathe them and put them to
bed by myself. Then I start on the dishes and laundry. I have
almost zero leisure time. By the time I fall into bed most
nights, I am so tired my legs are quivering. It is really hard
to have small children and keep everything going, right? We all
learn that from this wonderful email group. One way that I am
learning to cope is to let some things go; one of those things is
sending thank you notes. I really just do not have time. So,
maybe before judging people who do not send thank you notes, you
might consider that they are more stretched than you. When I
gave a birthday party for my son last year, I just invited a few
friends, and tried to make it really fun and special for them.
That was what I gave them in thanks for their coming to celebrate
When we put on birthday parties for our kids, we go all out to
make everyone that comes feel welcome and for the kids to have
fun. We spend a lot of time cooking, cleaning, putting together
activities. We spend a fair amount of money - we could buy all
the presents our kids get and more - getting party favors and
making sure we have extras for siblings if someone needs to
bring an extra kid. When our kids open their presents we make
them stop, notice who the present is from and thank that person.
After everyone leaves we spend a fair amount of time getting
things back in order, doing dishes (we dont believe in wasting
paper via disposable stuff), cleaning the yard, etc. So let me
get this straight - you want us to then sit down and write you a
note to thank you for all the trouble you went through to get a
present (not knowing anything about us you must have had to put
a lot of thought into what to get), and for the sacrifice of
spending time with us when you have nothing in common with us
and are obviously not interested in knowing anything about us?
All I have to say is please, don't bother, spare yourself the
trouble and stay home. And while you are there, ask yourself who
is missing out more - my kid without your present or your kid
without my party? Oh, and it is only rude not say 'thank you'.
How you say 'thank you' is about custom and culture among other
things. It is not wise to be so narrow minded as to judge others
by your cultural, social and regional standards in a world that
is obviously a mix of all kinds of people
no thank you
My kids say thank you to the gift-giver after opening the gift.
Isn't that enough?
I try to operate with doing what I think is important and trying
to be more flexible with what others do/or don't....But I'm not
always succesful at this! So, if thank you cards are important
to you, then you should send them. And you shouldundestand that
nhank you notes are not as important to others, or they are
important but some of us are not as organized or together. Even
if they don't send one, they still are likely still appreciative
of the gift
I'm sorry that I didn't see the original post. But given the
responses, I think I get the jist of it - you are disappointed
that you have not been receiving thank you cards.
I would like to thank everyone that pointed out that thank you
cards are not required when gifts are opened and verbal thank
you's have been given in person. Unfortunately, this is not
necessarily the reason that your not receiving them. And,
because it is commonly expected, I will send them even if gifts
are given in person. But many people do not realize that this
etiquette is perfectly okay, (just ask Emily Post), and you
should not always assume that people are being rude.
I am the person who sent out the original post. Several of you said that there is
another new rule; ''If you receive the gift in person and you say 'thank you' to
them when you open it, then you don't need to send a 'thank you' card.'' I
would like to say that all the birthday parties where we did NOT receive Thank
You cards were from the ones where they did NOT open presents. In the case
where presents ARE opened, I've noticed that most parents are very distracted
with the gift opening process, and they often forget to say ''thank you'' or they
are too busy trying to read the bithday cards to their kids while also keeping
track of who gave what and keeping everything from turning into chaos. And
children have to be reminded to say ''thank you'' by the parents who are too
distracted and forget to remind them. I've never expected them to tell me
''thank you'' in person. It's too much for them to worry about. Thank You cards
are convinient. The ''saying 'thank you' in person'' rule does not
seem to work very well. It is not practical or reliable. I appreciate those of
you who were honest about forgetting to write thank you cards. It's nice to
know there are good intentions out there. I will continue to teach my child to
write Thank You cards. And I will try not to judge those who don't. I'm not
perfect either. It took a lot of time and effort to learn good manners
because my parents never taught me how. I struggled with it all my adult life. It
never came easy for me. It seems that it is very challenging to
keep traditions alive in this busy world we live in. The days of old fashion letter
writing are over. We are all falling prey to the convinience of fast-paced,
thechnological forms of coumminication, like emails, text messages, faxes,
blogging, message boards, and cell phones. We are moving so fast, that we
don't know how to slow down. So I can imagine that for some, the thought of
writing a ''thank you '' card is quite daunting. Social etiquette is a tradition.
tradition seems to be unable to keep up with technology. In a world where
Evites rule and R.S.V.P.'s are meaningless, a little bit of social etiqette is like
oasis in the middle of the desert.
I am amazed by some of these incendiary responses. I guess I always expect that all
parents have really busy and difficult lives, but that we all make time for our
In our family we strive to send thank you notes, and I try hard to make this a fun
activity for the kids. Even a toddler can scribbe a ''thank you note'' picture for a
friend or grandparent, and frankly, it's a great activity for the ten minutes while I
trying to find something for them to do while I scramble to get dinner out. Then I
write a sentence or two on it and send it out. I mean kids love the mail, even in
these days of e-mail.
I feel like this is teaching my kids about gratitude, and about gifts not being
something you just expect or get automatically, but something special. We don't
spend time bad mouthing people who don't send thank you's, but we all love the
ones we get. We throw nice parties and treat our guests well because that's the
right thing to do, and because it is fun, not because it is a chance for a present
We thank people because we appreciate them. If they aren't important enough to us
to spend time on a thank you they probably aren't going to rate an invite to the
As for the nuances of the in-person rule, that's fine, if the point is satisfying the
gods of ettiquite. The issue is really whether my kids take the time to thank some
one and soak up the message that it isn't all about them. In some cases in-person
is enough, and in some cases it's not
I still believe in thank you notes
I don't have a moral stand on this but my three year old daughter kept a thank you
note she got from a preschool friend for months! She also talked about why the
friend sent it and how it meant the friend really liked her. It made me realize that
the thank you note really can work to make bonds between the children not just
satisfy some arbitrary rule of etiquette..
thanks for reading this
Wow-- heated issue. I don't mean to sound sanctimonious-- I
honestly have wondered sometimes if the card and gift got
separated or lost, or if the person just hated it or somehow
found the gift offensive. So I guess I'm with the original
poster in the camp that if you get a gift, you send a thank you
note. ''You'' being the child. I was struck by the number of
parents saying they don't have time. Look-- I understand being
really busy and, yes, the party itself is usually exhausting
and you are SO ready for it to be over. Pausing to say thank
you is just part of the package, and something I really want to
teach my kids in this era of hyper-speed anonymity and
acquisition. But I stress this: throwing the party is my job,
but saying thank you is my kids' job. So I just wanted to
suggest something that has worked well for us: our kids do not
open gifts at the party. When it's over, the birthday kid must
write a thank you note immediately after opening a gift. Like,
before the next one gets opened. This keeps the notes more
fresh (they capture their immediate reaction, like ''wowie! Jason
gave me a super sonic flying bubble popper ninja guy!'' and keeps
them incredibly motivated to write the notes. The notes are very
brief, but they get done. When they were too young to write at
all, we just wrote their reactions down as dictation and had
them put their insignia at the bottom. Or, if they can write a
little, but not the whole note, just make a form on the computer
where they write in the gift and sign/scribble their names. Or
you could just take a digital picture of them opening the gift,
print it, write ''thanks! as you can see, he loves it!'', trifold
and staple and send it. It's a great way to get them to work on
their handwriting. It also makes them stop and actually notice
the gifts, remember who they're from and slows down the paper
tearing frenzy. When my kids complain (yes of course they do), I
remind them that the easiest solution to the problem of writing
thank you notes is simply to suggest that no one brings gifts.
Anonymous, but trying not to be so at hyper speed all the time.
My mother just spent four nights at Alta Bates getting blood
transfusions, a colonoscopy, and other procedures for her
extreme anemia. What's the best way to thank the nurses
and aides who were especially competent and kind? I'm
going to write a letter to her ward's staff, with a cc to the
director of nursing. Any other suggestions?
What a lovely idea!
I work in an Emergency Room, and I would recommend a nice card and
food of some sort.... (The hospital staff is often pressed for time to
get a decent lunch, etc., and the hospital cafeteria isn't exactly
gourmet.) Whatever you do, I'm sure that the staff will appreciate your
sentiment of gratitude.
my brother-in-law is an anesthesiologist, and one of the rare doctors
whose best friends are mostly nurses (and their spouses). he sort of
trained us to bring a box of candy or some good cookies, etc, for each
shift of nurses when someone in the family has been hospitalized. (came
in real handy with a couple of difficult pregnancies). the nurses
really seem to appreciate it -- even if they are not eating sweets, etc
(though the stuff sure seems to get eaten) ... I think it really is the
thought that counts.
Sending a letter to those that you mentioned is really the best gift
that you can give to the nursing staff. My partner, a social worker in a
hospital, has received many boxes of candy, and other gifts from
patients, but the best gift of all is a letter to her superiors. A token
non- food gift is nice, but not necessary.
I think it is wonderful that you are taking the time to thank the nurses
whose care you appreciated during your mother's hospitalization. A
great nursing staff makes a world of difference in the day and life of a
patient. I'd consider a nice note or flowers. I am a nurse and would
recommend you try to stay away from non-nutritive foods like donuts,
chocolates, etc. (there are too many of these in hospitals). Just my
opinion, having received many thanks over the years.
Your thanks will be very appreciated
As a worker in the hospital, I'll share our favorite modes of thanks.
Sees Candy. This is not always loved during the holidays since there is
so much everywhere but this time of year a two pound box for every shift
will do the trick. Make sure you tell them to share with the
housekeepers and other people on the ward and put away the other boxes
for the other shifts. Let them knoe w who it is from and you appreciate
their hard work and help with your mom. Another gift they like is Peets
Coffee for the break room.
Hope your mom is well
It's mid-January and my husband has not yet written a thank you
note to his father for a very generous cash gift he gave our
daughter for Christmas. Obviously, I could and apparently
should just do it myself. Again. Grrrrr..... We had the same
problem when gifts for our newborn arrived, and it just became a
nagfest which I, and I'm sure he, hated. I'm not trying to
shirk my responsibilities, but I don't know how it became my
responsibility to write thank yous to everyone. But then of
course it reflects poorly on me that his father doesn't get
properly thanked, not to mention the message it will send to our
daughter when she's old enough to notice. Has anyone made any
progress on this issue?
Not the social secretary
I loved your message-- it made me laugh and re-fueled my
irritation about this same issue! I've been grumbling for years
about writing all the thank-you's. My husband did write a few
of the wedding gift ones, but I needed to set everything up for
him: the cards and envelopes all laid out, the address list
handy and then nag for a few weeks. For the baby gifts, I've
written all of them. We received a thoughtful gift from my
husband's boss (who happens to be a woman and would probably
expect a written thank you) and I made it explicit that he was
going to write this ONE thank you. That was six months ago and
it's still not written, although he informs me he made a verbal,
in-person thanks (good enough?). Anyway, like you, I feel it
reflects badly on me when the letters don't get written, which I
know is terribly co-dependent, narcissistic, unliberated and old-fashioned, and even a bit paranoid, but I can't help it! I'm
looking forward to the other responses--maybe someone else has
an effective solution?
anonymous at my husband's insistence
My husband doesn't write thank-you's either. It's become my job.
I also buy HIS MOM bd cards adn mothers day cards. We each sort
of fell into certain domestic roles. It's really annoying at
times,but I just realize he's not detail oriented or organized
the way I am and he can't remember to do it. He could remember
to buy the card, but then it sits ina pile...it's just the way
he is. So, I try to look at his good qualities. He does things
in our family that I don't want to or can't do, so I see it as
he does some tasks and I do some tasks.....
You might feel less annoyed about it if you just decide that
it's ! OK for you to do it, get it done and forget about it.
I write all of the thank you notes in my home. My husband handles all
plumbing. That one of the great things about being married - one
strengths can cover the other's weaknesses. My advice would be to just
the note - I bet there are tasks that your husband handles for you.
father-in-law deserves a thank you.
This used to drive me crazy, too! Now, if the gift is meant for
both of us (or if I benefit from the gift), I write the card
and sign MY name only. If the gift was just to him I shrug it
off. Since I'm in charge of getting my kids to write their
thank-you notes I just leave my husband's business his business
and make sure people get a thank you from me when appropriate.
tired of nagging
Well, I think you should give up on this and just write the
thank you's yourself. I'm sure there are plenty of things
that he *does* do that you can't or don't want to. You are
probably a superior thank you note writer anyway, so why not?
It's a small thing in the overall scope of things!
With my first husband, I did what you are doing - waited for him
to write the thank-you's, got irritated, waited, got more
irritated. He also never called his parents, and never arranged
social events with his family, co-workers, or childhood friends.
I did all that, or else it didn't get done, and when you're
talking about your kids' grandparents, you just gotta do it.
Now my 2nd husband is the complete opposite. Even before our
wedding, he had an Excel spreadsheet going of all the gifts, who
gave them, their addresses. A couple days after Christmas this
year, I woke up one morning and on my desk was a stack of written
thank you cards, stamped addressed envelopes, and a note to sign
them and put them in the mail. Really! After about three days
of "reminders" I did get around to signing them all and mailing
Just in case you have the wrong impression, I should add that
while he is a top-notch thank you note writer, my husband does
not put his dirty socks in the laundry but instead consistently
prefers the floor, even though I consistently complain loudly
every time I pick one up. So it just goes to show you, we all
have our strengths and weaknesses, and the key is to take over
the tasks that you do best (i.e., picking socks up off the floor)
and let him do the ones that he is good at!
Been there. In our case, it's often his mother and/or his
family's friends that don't get thanked in a timely manner.
I'm still working on it with my husband, but here's what I've
been doing lately: I make a list of all thank-you's to be
written, then do 3/4 of the list myself. (promptly, I might add!)
Then I give the remainder of the list, the blank notes and the
address book to my husband while he's watching TV and ask him to
finish the job before ! we go to bed. I've also made a point to
mention to his mother that he and I write thank-you's together,
lest she assume I'm the one to blame for delinquent notes.
Always writing the notes
Well, first of all, my husband does the same thing and it
drives me batty. When there are thank-you notes to be
written, I often find myself dealing with the same unpleasant
options of nag or write them myself or consider it his
responsiblity and try not to die of shame when it doesn't get
done. But, I have one other point about your situation-- not
all families have the same customs about thank-you notes.
For instance, in my family, we do not write thank-you notes
to close family members (except for wedding and shower
presents). In fact, I think it's safe to say that if I wrote my
parents a thank-you note, my mother would be a bit insulted.
The logic t! here is that thank-you notes are for people whom
we have more formal, distant relationships with. For close
family members, we just thank them ( a little profusely, I
admit) in person or on the phone. I know this may be
regarded as pretty silly by most people, since there isn't
really anything distancing about a thank-you note, but I just
thought I'd share in case your husband's family is the same.
If, on the other hand, the other members of his immediate
family send you thank-you notes and he just doesn't
reciprocate, I can only say I share your pain! Also, with our
system, I still end up having to remind my husband to make
sure to thank the gift giver when s/he calls, etc.
I tried the nagging and reminding and never were cards written...
my new technique that works just fine is - I inititate the
project one evening when we're lolling in front of! the TV. I
bring out the notecards. I hand him a blank card and pen and ask
''who are you starting with?'' and I start with someone else.
Sometimes he wants to write to my family, I a write to his,
sometimes it's split along my/his friends/family. But with both
of us sitting down to do the deed together, it gets done with no
hassle. So I'm still the one who ''makes it happen'' but I'm not
getting bitter writing them all myself, it's a together project
that happens because I gather the supplies and designate the
time, but he participates in the actual writing.
happy they're done
Aaargh! The problems that get created when we try to get other
people to behave the way we think they ought to behave!
Writing a thank you note is important to you, not to your
husband, obviously. This particular note you want him to write
is to his father. Perhaps the father doesn't expect such a note-
-after all, who raised your husband (the one who doesn't write
thank you notes)?
Since it is important to you, write one yourself, on behalf of
your son and of yourself. Do what makes you feel good.
There is a principle: ''Help that isn't asked for NEVER works.''
You are attempting to force your husband to accept the help you
think he needs, nagging and attempting to control his behavior.
In the meantime, you are getting yourself upset!
Accept him as he is. Take care of yourself, not as the ''agent''
for the family, but for yourself. You can tell your husband how
you want him to act, but the current approach will only drive a
huge wedge between you and him that will be very difficult to
heal and could cause big problems down the line. Check to see
if that is what you want!
My kids are now 20 and 18 and we had this same problem. I always
felt like my husband should take care of his family---write thank
you notes, call occasionally, etc. and that I would take care of
mine. In retrospect I wish I had been more gracious about it
(his mother died a couple of years ago) and seen it as a skill of
mine and therefore a good division of labor (after all, he does
the TAXES in our house.) NOT doing it meant that we all had less!
of a connection with his family. I'd recommend that you do what
it takes to get a different take on it for yourself. Perhaps
imagine your father-in-law bragging to his friends about what a
super-special and thoughtful daughter-in-law he has. It's about
relationship and it's an important relationship for
everyone---not only for your husband but for you and your
children. By being the communicator you are bestowing blessings
on all of you. And, perhaps if you lead the way, your husband
will follow...(but I wouldn't count on that;-)
The thank you note thing used to bother me alot more than it does now.
I usually write them (sometimes late--I haven't written for holiday
yet, either), but I don't really expect them any more. If it really
you about your father-in-law's gift, why not sit down and write one.
han! d it to your husband for his extra words or even just his name.
it off, and you're done!
Consider doing the thank you notes together. Just pick an hour
one evening, have pens, notecards, stamps, etc. all ready. Then
just sit down together and take turns writing and addressing
envelopes. A team approach usually gets it done sooner than
delegating it to your husband and it leaves you not feeling so
resentful. Another way is to have something generic already pre-
printed off the computer that you just have to sign. Then you
can print them and he can stamp and mail them.
Sounds like my husband! After 7 years of living together
(married for the past 3) I'm finally conceding to the fact that
I am the social organizer, the thank-you writer, arbitrator,
etc. when it comes to his side of the family.&nb! sp; Now that we have
a child, I don't want my in-laws to think I'm not grateful, not
on top of it, or whatever the case may be. I guess before
having a child I just didn't really care what they thought, or
maybe I didn't notice these situations as much. Sometimes I
would give in, but sometimes too much time would pass and it
would be too late to write that thank-you note that my husband
said he was going to take care of. I'm looking forward to
hearing others' solutions on this subject!
Writing thank you notes is not something you will find a huge
percentage of men doing at all. I think it is a ''guy'' thing.
By the same token, most men don't expect to receive them
either. This is probably a little about your need to see that
he is properly thanked by your standards. Some families don't
do it that way, but consider a personal, verbal thanks to be
quite enough. If your husband has had this conversation with
his father, that should suffice. If he has not, nag him to be
sure he's had the conversation, and then leave it.
this page was last updated: Nov 16, 2013
BPN is now a 501(c)(3) non-profit and we are building a new website!
Read more, and see how you can help:
The opinions and statements expressed on this website
are those of parents who subscribe to the
Berkeley Parents Network.
Disclaimer & Usage for
information about using content on this website.
Copyright © 1996-2015 Berkeley Parents Network