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Thank You Nots

That title up there is not a typo. I feel the need to point that out since my last title did have a typo and I only just got around to fixing it, so for the record, no typos in this title. I make no guarantees about the rest of the post.

We have attended quite a few kid's birthday parties in the past several months. On three occasions, I have, several weeks later, either run into the birthday child's mother or had reason to correspond with her on another topic and had that mother volunteer that she is "behind on thank-you notes." In all three cases, no thank you note has been forthcoming. (ETA: I should mention that in all three cases the gifts were not opened at the party.)

(Now, I have also attended a Saturday morning birthday party for which I received a thank you note written by the child in Tuesday's mail. That, my friends is hardcore thank you note-ing and I can't imagine how the parents convinced their child to accomplish such a feat.)

Anyway, I've been wondering if this is now acceptable? This claim that one is behind in thank you notes serving as an excuse for not writing them at all? And I ask because I personally despise writing thank you notes on behalf of my children. I never have appropriate stationery, I am always out of stamps, and I can never figure out whether to write the note as myself, as I am after all the one writing it, or to write it as my child, which is pure fantasy because neither of my children is currently capable of dictating an appropriate thank you note. I always seem to go for the "from the child" option, but I find it especially difficult when my child has already personally thanked the gift-giver, and then I sit down to write a fake note for my kid to sign.

So, I don't like to do it. But I always do. I was raised to write thank you notes, it was firmly planted in my psyche as a requirement of civilization, and I always write them, like it or not. My goal for Mia's birthday is to get my thank you notes out before I receive the thank you note from Mia's BFFs birthday party. She is ten days younger than Mia and her mother is an incredibly conscientious thank you note writer.

But what do you think? Are thank you notes becoming old fashioned and passe? In my mind, I feel they could probably be replaced by a thank you email or thank you phone call (but not, I suspect, by an I'm behind on my thank you notes email, which is not quite the same thing, but I am often wrong about these things). Where do you fall in the great thank you notes debate?

Comments (32)

I'm of the thank you note variety, but you probably know that, because you have gotten them from me (Michael.)

But I have also not gotten thank you notes from people, so I suspect they are going by the wayside.

The Miss Manners rule is that if you thank the person in, er, person, you don't have to send a thank-you note. So, if the birthday child opens presents at his/her party and says thank you to each giver, there's no need for notes.

HOWEVER. I consider this Iffyville, because really the child's PARENTS are the givers. And also, as a parent I like to know that the present didn't get lost or whatevs. So I personally make my kids write thank-you notes, even if they thanked in person. And the parents you're talking to obviously FEEL that they should be writing them, or else they wouldn't claim to be "behind." So. Iffyville.

I HAVE found that more and more people seem to think thank-you notes aren't necessary, but I continue to think that they ARE INDEED NECESSARY, and to fret extensively if I don't get one, because WHAT IF THE GIFT GOT LOST?? WHAT IF IT NEVER ARRIVED?? WHAT IF IT ARRIVED BUT WITH NO CARD, SO THE RECIPIENTS ARE FRANTICALLY WONDERING WHO SENT IT???

Thank you notes are appropriate and important and should ALWAYS be sent.

That being said...

For Kaelin's first year of life, I was religious about hand-writing thank you notes and including a picture of her in each and every one.

These days... I might be the lady apologizing for sending thank you notes, and then a week or two later you get an eCard from me.

I feel like I need to weigh in here. I do not expect a thank you note nor do I send them if the gift was opened at the party. However, this new trend of opening gifts after the party irks me greatly especially if no note was sent. It makes me feel like the gift was the price of admission and all I got was a lousy piece of cake and stunted conversation.

I don't know if they are always necessary, but they certainly make you look all put together and super thoughtful, and isn't that worth it?

I tend to write such notes on cards that have been colored by my kid. That way, they are from me AND her and she learns the importance of them beforeeshe can write.

I send (and expect) thank you notes for gifts that have been sent and where gifts are given and then opened later, because even if you thanked them in person for giving you a gift, you didn't actually thank them for whatever gift actually was. I do not send (or expect) thank you notes for gifts given and opened in person, except for baby and wedding showers -- in that case thank you notes are required whether gifts were opened at the shower or not.

This is so my soapbox: I think the thank you note is becoming a lost art. I think thank yous are always appropriate and appreciated. The note shows that you truly appreciated the gift (or at least the thought that went into it!). The gift-giver took the time & expense to choose a gift and then bring/send it. I think the least the gift-receiver can do is sit and write a quick note expressing gratitude.

Of course, I think my opinion is quickly becoming that of the extreme minority. But I will always continue to write them. Everyone likes to get real mail!

I am a firm believer in the thank you note. That said I am sitting here staring at the stack of thank you postcards (they matched the invitations) from my son's birthday in MAY. It did take me a couple of weeks, a few at a time, to get him to write them (he was only in kindergarten after all) but then I held them in my purse waiting to get stamps. Then I forgot. Then I found them and here they sit. I am certain no one remembers the birthday party at this point and it would probably be weird to send them but the guilt, Oh the guilt, will not let me throw them away.

While I am not nearly as good as I'd like to be, I do try very, very hard because there is nothing quite like receiving one and we should all aim to make people feel like that if we can. (And we can.)

I also don't think (and I came to this recently) that a gracious act can expire -- meaning, it's never too late to send a thank you note, no matter what.

So....I'm of the camp that you write one, always, and if you forget and don't think about it for months, write it when you think about it.

I was brought up to always send a thank you note. I have taught my kids to do the same, and now my son & daughter-in-law are teaching my grandson. He's not yet 2, but he colors a "picture" and that is sent with a note from his parents saying how much he liked whatever he got.

The way I see it is that no one "owes" you a gift for your birthday or any holiday, and if they take the time to get you something, even a gift card, then you need to take the time to thank them... in writing.

I totally agree with earlier posts that its never too late to be gracious, and whenever you remember to get the notes out, better late than never. (I believe that Ms. Manners said [something like] that.)

I make my kids write them, even if they thanked the kids are the party when they opened the gift. As someone else said, everyone likes to get mail, right? I've had my girls write the note ever since they learned letters. I would write out a very simple note on paper (Thank you for the ____ Love, me) and they would copy it, even if they didn't know which word they were writing. My 4 year old thought the whole ordeal was a real treat. (I hope she never outgrows that!)

If the gift came from an elder, I'm even more careful to make sure it gets done.

At 7 and 5, my kids already know that the notes are expected, appropriate, and non-negotiable.

That's true for me, too. My mom's mom always gets the first note, because I *know* what she thinks of ingrates who don't send notes, and she's *always* generous enough to deserve the respect.

Whenever I get annoyed writing them, I tell myself what I tell the kids: Someone went to all the trouble to get me a gift. The least I can do is take 5 minutes and tell them I appreciate that.

I think it's becoming more rare but that just makes it more special when people get 'em!

I'm in the UK, when I was a kid I didn't send thank you notes to my friends who came to my birthday party, I thanked them there and then. I don't think any of my friends sent thank you notes to each other. I did send thank you notes to grandparents, aunts and uncles and other adult family and friends who sent gifts. No matter how much I whined about it I had to do it.

I think it's really sweet nowadays when I do get a thank you note, but a thank you email/call/text is also acceptable. If you've posted a gift it also serves to let you know it arrived and the recipient doesn't think you've forgotten them.

My kids are older but we never sent or received thank you notes from birthday parties. Any gifts/cards received in the mail required a phone call to thank the giver and to let them know it did arrive. Many times when we had parties for our kids class )roller skating, bowling, etc) we never even knew the address of some of the kids who came as invitations were handed out in school.

I almost never do them anymore since having kids makes it so much harder, but I am wracked with guilt about it constantly. So, you know, I'm probably not the one to emulate.

I have STACKS AND STACKS of thank you notes.. From my son who will be 3 in Jan's baby shower and my daughter who is 4 months old baby shower.. In both cases I opened and thanked in person and for those that were sent I gave them a PHONE CALL. But I did intend send thank you notes.. some are even filled out.. but I never have stamps and I THANKED THEM IN PERSON.. so I don't feel bad for not sending them and I could care less if I receive one... I think they are like cards... just feeding money into the industry... Anywho.. Your pictures on the side are MIGHTY OLD. I don't even know what Owen looks like anymore! Update.. Please? I'll send you a thank you note!!

I was brought up to write thank you notes immediately for everything. Real life has kicked my ass, plus I'm seriously practical. The reality is that if someone has thanked me in any form - in person, by phone or by e-mail - I don't need or want a handwritten note. And I don't usually write them if I've offered thanks another way either. I blame my environmentalism :)

I think a written thank you is still the way to go. A mailed card or emailed variety are equal in my mind. In some respects, they do seem like a bit of a waste. But I agree with some of the other comments that "thank-you's" are becoming a lost art...and I think it teaches a lesson about gratitude to kids. My oldest is finally at the age where I feel I can involve him and have it be meaningful.

Ok, thank you notes are a must. The younger the child, the more work for mom (or dad). For example, those learning to write can simply write their names and draw a picture. But when they can write? They write it all and it very well may be a 2-3 day undertaking. I used to write out the basics "Dear ____, Thank you for the _____." etc. They would copy all of that the best they could and fill in the blanks...Now they write the whole card and sometimes they write paragraphs!! Thank you notes are becoming a thing of the past and that is sad.... People took the time to think of your child or yourself, we can take 10 minutes to write a thank you note. It is a hairpulling experience a lot of the time, getting the kids to do it, but I know it is so worth it. In reading some of the responses above, I guess I'm in the minority.
:( :(

I am a thank you note stickler. Mine have been doing so since they were 2 (they are each about 6 weeks older than each of yours). At that age, they just draw a picture and I read them what I've written (sometimes with their suggestions). As they get older, the write "Love, _____", dictate the note (with more or less coaching), write more and more of it themselves, select the stamp, etc. My 5yo now likes it and is pretty good at it (and funny "Thank you for the rock painting kit. But why does it have black paint if the rocks are already black?"). If you make it a habit they do it without too much complaint. I agree with Luvily - totally worth it.

Ooooohhhhh, I didn't know you had to write thank you notes for children's birthday gifts! Good to know, good to know.

By next year, Mia will be able to write the notes herself. Owen? Maybe he can just dip his thumb in ink and stamp the card and you write thank you?

I used to receive thank you notes regularly. It is rare anymore. I do my thank you notes on the computer and I print them. Less personal, but quick and efficient. My favorite thank you notes to mail are simple ones from Hallmark.

Perhaps, a better way for you to go until the kids are older is making it an art project. Stamps and things with their favorites, a few printed words and signing of their name?

Harley's earliest notes usually said thanks for the money or whatever. Very short, but he wrote it. Hated every moment of it.

Ok, I'm gonna throw something out there. I think all these birthday parties are overrated. I have 4 kids and I'm going broke buying presents for other people's kids....These kids get so much stuff, nothing is special to them. One of my kid's friends mother has a B-day party every year around Nov and always writes that she requests no gifts for the birthday girl, but instead requests unopened toy/gently used coats to donate to toys for tots. I love love love this spin on things.
You would not believe the joy my kids took in picking out a toy for another kid to make their Xmas great. They celebrated their friend's b-day with cake and ice cream and games. That's enough.
Oh, and I absolutely believe in Thank-you cards.
Take the time to show the people who were nice
enough to buy you a present, that you care. Good
manners should start young.

I was brought up to always send them - I have been to several weddings over the years where I have thought carefully about the present, bought it, and not a dickie bird. With kids parties I am less annoyed, but still consider it a courtesy that should be followed. I also agree, that some form of acknowledgement that the gift arrived if posted is nice (my sister inlaw is dreadful at thank yous - I always end up asking if the gift arrived a few weeks later - just in case it didn't and they think I forgot!).

How about a traditional Fish election post? The predicted voter turnout could sure use it!

I was brought up to always send a thank you note and we/my kids always do, but I don't fret over whether we get them. It does bug me a bit, though, when gifts are not opened at the party. As someone above mentioned, it does feel rather like the cost of admission and on top of that, my children feel a little disappointed at not getting to see if the child liked their gift. Luckily, we only know one family that does this, as we tend to only attend family birthdays and a couple of close friends. We also do not attend parties of those who throw a party EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Its just too much.

As for thank you notes, my son writes his now and I address them. I still write them for my daughter, who is 4, but I sign them with my daughters first name along with mine and my husbands. It took me a couple of years to find something I felt comfortable with! heh

I do think it's nice to send thank you notes, especially when it's for gifts from relatives/friends we don't see very often. My son is only two, but I stocked up on blank 3x5 notecard & envelope sets at Michaels when they went on sale last winter and I have him color/paint/put stickers on the fronts of the cards, then I write a brief thank you inside. I tell him we're doing this for so-and-so to say thank you for the whatever. In the moment he seems to understand that he's doing something nice for someone who did something nice for him.

You Americans are delightfully polite. The form here is NEVER to send thank you letters for children's birthday presents. Recently my sister-in-law received a text message thanking her for a gift her son brought to a party and this was so amazing and remarkable that she told me about it and we both oohed and aaahed that the recipient knew what the present was. Really.

Personally, I think that your way is better.

I never wrote thank-you notes until my wedding, although I do remember being prompted to thank everyone in person. I don't know how necessary the thank-you notes are, myself, but I also wouldn't want to be the one setting that trend, you know?

Anne - where do you live? Just curious.

Thank you notes are a must in my family. I am not always the fastest with them, but I do stick to the rule of sending them out within a month of the event. I also send them out for my children. My 5 year old now writes simple ones, so that is a help. The thing that irks me about thank you notes is this...why is this such a WOMAN thing to do? My husband can care less about sending thank you notes. I am the one sending them on behalf of the family at Christmas, or for when we got married, or any other gift that comes for all of us. I am the one fretting about getting the notes sent after a kid birthday party. Reading through these comments, it seems that no one feels their husbands can take on this responsibility. We women obviously feel A LOT OF GUILT, yet it seems the men folk for the most part do not. It is us women keeping up with the niceties because we are the ones that like to make sure the woman in the OTHER household knows we care. Just like cleaning the house for company is to impress the other women, and dressing nicely is for other women, too. Now that I am putting my thoughts into words, I see that we women are driving ourselves insane. But I'll still send that thank you note.

I'm always the odd one out, but I hate thank you notes. I do not like writing them (and am usually the one guilty of not sending them) but I honestly hate -receiving- them.

I rarely mail people gifts - I give them in person, so, I am usually thanked in person. And that is fine. I do not want a card. Do not spend money on a stamp for me. I will only feel guilty for throwing it away. If I give you a gift, I would assume you appreciate it and are grateful, as I am when I receive a gift (and I do thank people in person).

Unfortunately, despite pleading, I cannot get people to stop sending them to me.

But, I think I'm alone in this.

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