Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thank You Notes

Today, I will mail off the last of the Thank You Notes from my shower a few weekends ago. People were (and continue to be) beyond generous to me & Baby Chapman.  I don't mind writing thank you notes one bit, because I genuinely want to tell everyone how grateful I am for their gift and the role they have played in my life and will play in our baby's life.  So, if you have gotten or will get one from me in the next few days, know that it is heartfelt and an honor to write.
THAT SAID, I've been thinking about the actual concept of thank you notes recently...

I come from a thank you note family.  I've been writing them since I was old enough to hold a pencil for every gift I've ever received.  To this day, I will get an individual note from my mom, my dad, and my sister after Christmas, birthdays, etc.  I can count on it.  (We even have a few more distant relatives who have been known to get legitimately angry and "withhold gifts" if a thank you note is not received in a timely manner.) For the most part, I'm very thankful that my parents instilled this virtue in me early on in life.  I think it is kind-of a dying art, and the Mulvaney clan is doing its part to keep it alive.  I don't really know what this will look like in our little boy's life (it seems different with boys), but it is something I plan to keep up.
However, sometimes I question the concept in general.  Usually, people give gifts because they genuinely want to and they certainly don't expect or demand a formal thank you.  Seeing your reaction at the shower or party or gift exchange and a verbal "thanks" is usually enough. (Am I wrong?)  Furthermore, most of the key "thank you note events" in life correspond with the busiest seasons of life too - like weddings and babies.  I'm not being ungrateful, but do we really need another thing added to our "to do" list?
My sister even begged me NOT to send her a thank you note recently because she has a thing about not throwing away handwritten notes, and she was beginning to run out of storage space.  Ridiculous? Yes.  But, kind-of true.  (Don't you feel bad when someone spends all that time writing you a note and then you open it, read it, and throw it away?  Am I the only one that does that?)

Plus, the cycle can be a little crazy if you aren't careful too.  For example, do I send a thank you note to the couple who came to dinner and brought a hostess gift even though the gift itself was, in essence, a "thank you"?  I know I certainly wouldn't expect someone to send me one if I was the guest with the gift.  But, yet I find myself feeling obligated to do so sometimes... So many things to think about.
Don't get me wrong.  I value a thank you note.  I always appreciate it when I receive one; and, I think there are very valid times to send them -- Like if the gift was sent through the mail and the giver would honestly have no other way of knowing whether or not it was received OR when someone really goes out of their way unexpectedly with a physical gift or just their time and energy.  BUT, I don't expect or demand thank you notes from the people in my life. 

I'm curious what the etiquette is these days...
Do you send them?  Do you expect them?  What occasions warrant a note and for which ones will a simple phone call or in-person hug suffice?

*All images are from Tiny Prints.  (And, no, they didn't pay me for this post!)

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Lilly Pie giveaway here... And, if you win, you do NOT have to send me a thank you note! ;)


  1. I always send thank you notes for gifts (although to be honest, I'm still not finished sending the ones from my baby shower the first weekend in April). For one of my showers, after everyone left, my hostess gave me a box of stationery with envelopes stamped and addressed to everyone who had come to the shower, which I thought was a fantastic idea - then I just had to write the notes!

    All that said, I wouldn't send a thank you note for a hostess gift or something similar - generally in that case I send an email.

  2. My mom instilled in us the same virtue of sending thank you notes. I send them all the time -- for everything. But then I get annoyed that I "have" to do so. It certainly is a chore! I'm not sure what the proper etiquette is these days, but I know I rarely receive thank you notes from others anymore. Then again, I don't expect them either. I'm totally with you on "wanting" to give a gift. I don't need any special thanks.

    And yes, I usually throw cards and notes away now after reading them. When I was younger I kept ALL cards from birthdays, anniversaries, etc. After filling up several shoe boxes, I realized it was completely ridiculous. Now I only keep the really REALLY special ones.

  3. I think weddings, graduations, and any type of shower are thank you note occasions. The rule in my family beyond that was that if the gift is worth a significant amount of money (the definition of "significant" obviously depends on the giver and their financial situation -- was it significant to THEM), you had to write a thank you note. I've always found that to be a pretty good rule of thumb. It keeps you from writing a thank you note for the $20 bottle of wine your friends brought for dinner, but you also don't look like an ingrate and a jerk when someone's really invested a lot in a gift. And obviously if you really love the gift or it has some great emotional meaning, regardless of cost/worth, you can always write a thank you note.

    I also really like Mary Frances' idea above, though, where the shower hostess gives the giftee a box of ready-to-go thank you notes. What a great idea! I'll have to remember that one.

  4. I'm definitely from a big thank-you note family as well! My mom (and of course the wonderful Roanoke Junior League Cotillion!) always gave me a couple rules with them:
    -We were never really supposed to spend/play with something until we had written a thank you note for it.
    -If it was a close family member and we were able to thank them in person, then we were exempt from the note writing.
    -And my favorite cotillion hint: The TECC (Thank, Elaborate, Compliment, Close)formula for writing notes

    These were all really helpful and meaningful to me growing up and have carried me through my college years as a parent-free thank you note-r :)

  5. I Love Love sending mail...Whatever it is, a gift, a birthday card, a Thank you note whatever! But I must say, a family member did preprinted Thank You's for their wedding..I was a bit put off with them, the point is to be personal, and they were anything but! Maybe I'm a Thank you snob? Something to ponder! haha

  6. I was all about writing thank you notes until i had a baby. the worst was all the presents that came AFTER i had her (as opposed to the shower gifts before... that was fine). I was awful at thank you notes post-baby. I think our generation doesn't care as much, but one generation up certainly still gets fired up about some thank you notes. Also, I throw away all cards, so I assume other people do to, which is even less motivation to write them.

  7. I was admitted into the hospital to have my twins the DAY of my first baby shower. They were born a week later but I'm still writing Thank You notes. I always wonder does it ever become too late to send a Thank you?

  8. I still send them and to people you wouldn't a helpful hotel concierge or a tour company that showed me a good time.


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