Socially Yours: The 411 of the Thank You Note


By: Shelly Robertson Birdsong and

While this topic may seem overly discussed, it was recently brought to the forefront of my etiquette mind, and I was in need of some insight and thought you would enjoy a refresher too. Of course, I immediately went to the source of all things etiquette for my thank you note dilemma – Emily Post. You see dear Emily, as a harried business owner and mother, the last four years since said toddler was born, evidently have rendered me somewhat deficient in what previously had been very important and sacred to me – the remembrance of gifts and kindnesses and most of all, the hand written thank you note. Of course, I say that, but the quandary I found myself in recently was not that I had not written the thank you notes… I had written, addressed and even stamped them, but not mailed… four years ago now on the occasion of the baby shower…

Now to what to do. Throw them away? Four years does seem more than the reasonable expected time to send a thank you note. Or send anyway, addressing the issue individually with each person, as to how sorry I am for the delay? Let me not even get into the issue of wedding and baby gifts also purchased and ready to send to their intended deserving couple or new mommy, but alas, that’s correct, sitting in a box, long past due.

So, Emily what say you on the topic of thank yous? Am I still in the clear as the lady my grandmother always trained me to be? Here is what Miss Post has to say about such matters. I think I have my answer and I am on the way to the mailbox, having learned a valuable lesson at that!

Being Thankful: Thank-You Note FAQs

Sometimes it’s easy to write off a heartfelt thank-you note. Other times, writer’s block can set in – especially when you are staring down a large stack of them. Before you start, remember that thanking people needs to be about just that: expressing thanks.

Who needs a note?

All gifts should be acknowledged with a note, unless the present was opened in front of the giver – then you have the chance to thank them in person. An important exception: Many of an older generation expect a hand-written note. Providing them with one is an appropriate gesture of respect and consideration. Also, send a hand-written note for gifts received at a shower, even if you said thank you in person at the time.

When should thank-you notes be written?

Write your notes as soon as possible, and don’t hesitate if you feel you’re late; a late note is always better than no note at all. Thank-you notes for wedding gifts should be sent within three months of returning from your honeymoon, though an immediate turnaround is recommended, both to acknowledge the gift arrived and to stay on top of them.

What about email?

Email is okay to thank for a coffee or meal that was casual or whose invitation was extended by email in the first place. It’s also okay for very small favors. But for dinner parties, big favors, an actual gift, or being a house-guest, handwritten thank-you notes are your best bet for an expression of warm, heartfelt thanks.

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