By Rachel Hoeing
Here are the facts – yes, thank you notes are often redundant when you have already thanked someone in person. Yes, they are a pain to write. Yes, they are time consuming. Yes, it is easier to send an email than waste a stamp. But I firmly believe that hand-written thank you notes should be sent as often as possible. I tend to have the “old school” opinion that receiving a thank you note in the mail shows that the recipient was genuinely touched by your gift. It shows an appreciation for the time spent in choosing that perfect gift. It also sets a good example for your kids.
One topic that seems to be up for discussion when it comes to thank you notes is children’s birthday parties. It seems that the new trend is to open gifts after the party. For this reason, I feel that it is very considerate to send thank you notes since the giver did not see the child open it.
Also, now that many parties are held outside of the home, it has happened that gifts get separated in transit or left behind. The giver wants to know that your child did indeed receive the birthday gift they purchased! If your child is just learning to write, a simple one-word sentence on a thank you card will do. “Dear Jake, The racecar you gave me was cool. Thanks, Henry.” If your child is small, of course you should write the note yourself. If your child is older, they should definitely take the time to write a few sentences. Not only does this confirm that their gift was received, but it teaches children manners and thoughtfulness. If you attend a small birthday gathering with family and a few friends, and gifts are opened on the spot, thank you notes may not be expected, but are always appreciated.
What about writing thank you notes to family members? My sister and I were raised to write a thank you to all of our relatives any time they sent a gift, so I still continue that tradition with my children. I especially think it is important when the gift is sent from out-of-town relatives. It is not unheard of that packages get lost in the mail. The giver wants to know that the gift sent was actually received. A thank you note is especially nice because since Grandma did not get to see Sally open her gift in person, she would love a note that says Sally has played with her dollhouse every day since it arrived.
Now on to a tougher area, new mom thank you notes. This means you just had a baby and you have received gifts in the mail, dinners delivered, friends have watched your older kids for you, etc. Friends come out of the woodwork when you give birth and are wonderful helpers! My opinion is that all tangible gifts always get a thank you note as soon as possible. I also wrote thank you notes for dinners that were delivered to me, BUT I do think that this is one time in your life where a verbal thank you is enough. Things are crazy at a house with a new baby and I think very few people expect you to write notes for dinners or other types of help. I will say that if you keep a list of these things friends have done for you, maybe when the chaos at home calms down, you can jot a note to your neighbor who mowed the lawn all month for you, or your girlfriend who listened to you cry on the phone each night when your baby wouldn’t sleep.
So there is my two cents on thank you notes. I am sure some of my friends are sitting there thinking, “Oh great, Rachel gave me a gift and I did not send a thank you card and now she thinks I am a terrible person.” Not at all, because I know for a fact that gifts have come into this house somewhere along the way and I am sure I did not get a note out to every person who sent one! Life gets crazy and we all understand the life of a Mom. But as often as possible, I am going to make a good effort to set an example for my kids and show them how much a few words of thanks can mean to others.
What’s your two cents on thank you notes?