Thank You Notes

Archived Q&A and Reviews

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Should I write a thank you note for a thank you gift?

March 2007

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? anon

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. anon

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 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. heidi

Never got a thank you for wedding gift

Dec 2006

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. anon

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. anon

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 important. anon.

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 JOJ

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.'' anon

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 Andi

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. Anonymous

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 happened here.

Thank you cards for child's birthday party gifts

Aug 2006

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 manners slide nelly

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 Elizabeth

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 new stuff. Good Luck Donna

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 that 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 to 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 to 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 anon

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 sorry 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? anon

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 the future! 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, you know? 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! no notes

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 the 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. If you get a thank you card - how nice. If you don't, who cares - you gave because you wanted to good luck!

I too think it is a bit rude not to send a thank you card but it does seem to be the 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. If you get a thank you card - how nice. If you don't, who cares - you gave because you wanted to good luck!

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 the birthday. Anon

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 anonymous

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. anon

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. But 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 an oasis in the middle of the desert. Yours Truly

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 values. 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 am 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 haul. 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 party.

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.

How to Best Thank a Hospital Nursing Staff

August 2005

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? Melanie

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. anon

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. aj

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. Anon

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

Husband not writing thank you notes

Jan. 2004

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'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. anon

I write all of the thank you notes in my home. My husband handles all of the plumbing. That one of the great things about being married - one person's strengths can cover the other's weaknesses. My advice would be to just write the note - I bet there are tasks that your husband handles for you. Plus, your 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 them.

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! Ilene

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;-) Sally

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 gifts yet, either), but I don't really expect them any more. If it really bothers you about your father-in-law's gift, why not sit down and write one. Then han! d it to your husband for his extra words or even just his name. Send it off, and you're done! Carolyn

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. Melissa

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.! 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! anon

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. Anon