The Etiquette of “Thank You” Cards

I found an article on Yahoo! about a woman who received the gift of no “thank you” cards as part of her baby shower. For those of you who don’t want to take the time to read the article, before the mom–to–be started opening gifts one of the guests stood up and suggested to the group of women in attendance that they should give the gift of no “thank you” notes.

“At first everyone was kind of stunned,” said the mom–to–be Laura Turner in an interview with ABC News. “Pretty quickly it turned from a sense of surprise to a sense of excitement at this new and relieving idea.”

Turner first tweeted about it and it gained enough attention that she was interviewed by ABC News. Other platforms including Yahoo! and Slate have now picked up the story.

At my baby shower yesterday, one woman said, before I started opening gifts, “Can we give you the gift of no thank-you notes?” And everyone gasped and I DIED and now I’m going to be that lady at every shower I go to.

— Laura Turner (@lkoturner) April 15, 2018

I personally think this is a great idea. To me, baby showers are an occasion that shouldn’t require “thank you” cards. Traditionally at a baby shower, gifts are opened right there in front of everyone and the recipient has an opportunity to gift a verbal thank you right there on the spot. That would be plenty for me.  I don’t need someone to then go out and buy stationary, take the time to write a thoughtful note, spend another fifty cents for a stamp for me to have a written thank you. One “thank you” is all I need.

But that is not how all or even many of the commenters on that Yahoo! article feel. Most people seem to be really upset by the idea of not receiving a “thank you” note. I don’t get it. The RealLily15 hr ago

As someone who made a homemade quilt with a good deal of work and expense for my last baby gift for a niece, when I received only a pre-printed thank you postcard, I can tell you that I was hurt and this niece will not get another present from me. No thank yous may be the latest gift, but the appropriate response to a “no thank you gift” is to reciprocate with a “no gifts please” response. If you accept a gift, a thank you is the polite response, particularly if you “ask” for a gift with a shower or wedding invitation.

This person doesn’t seem to understand the point of gift giving. When I give something I do it because I think it will make the recipient happy and that brings me pleasure. You shouldn’t be giving a gift to get attention. You also shouldn’t extend yourself to the point where giving a gift becomes a burden. This person could have purchased a blanket from the store instead of putting extra time and “expense” into the gift.

Personally, I love giving handmade gifts and I love to see the reaction of the present being opened and then seeing how it is used down the line. I put in the effort because I think it is something they will enjoy not because I am fishing for compliments or need a piece of cardboard to put into a scrapbook. That smile when the present is opened is all I need.

Another response on Yahoo! was:

The best way I have seen to handle this: One person was identified as the scribe. They made a list of every gift and the name of the giver. It made writing those thank you notes much easier and organized. They can be written at any time. One at a time, or an all out afternoon. I believe the very least a person can do is to write a thank you note. The person put thought into what to purchase, either went to the store or bought online, wrapped the gift, took time out of their schedule to go to the shower. Wow. This seems to be an all about me moment.

This commenter has the right idea for making thank you notes easier but seems to be overestimating the gift-giving process. In most cases, nobody is saying you are required to attend the baby shower. And even if you are “required” it is not like it is really a big stressor for you. It is a party. You get free food, maybe play some games, and hang out for a couple of hours.

And gift giving doesn’t really take much effort for a baby shower. Check out the registry, choose something that fits your budget and toss it in a gift bag. Gifting for modern baby showers takes less effort than writing a thoughtful card that is unique for each gift giver. Kerrie13 hr ago

You’re pregnant for 9mknths and you can’t find 1 hour in there to write thank you notes? I’m sure you have time to return the gifts you got but didn’t want and to keep up with the kardashians and to tweet about how unfairly you were treated at a public corporation and log on to Facebook to whine about how things aren’t fair, so you must be too exhausted to write “thank you so much for xyz – I really appreciate your generosity and it will certainly come in handy when Jr arrives” 30 times.

Would anyone really appreciate a “thank you” note that is so simple? The commenter above assumes a whole lot here and I don’t understand the bitterness. She assumes that this hypothetical pregnant person does nothing for 9 months except for being pregnant and then oversimplifies the “thank you” card writing process.

For me, I would rather not receive a thank you card than get the same one that everyone else receives. Sure it is a nice gesture but it is not necessary. If you told me “thank you” when you opened the gift, I don’t need to hear it again especially if you are only doing it because of social obligation.

If you really feel the need to send a “thank you” card I want one that shows you are genuinely thankful and not just pouring ink onto the page in the same pattern over and over again. Make it personal. If you do give me the same thing as other people, make it preprinted.

There are plenty of occasions where “thank you” notes make sense. Weddings are the perfect example. Often you will not have the opportunity to thank everyone individually so send them a note to show your gratitude. When you write it, think about your personal history with the person and the gift they gave. Make them feel like you really appreciate what they did for you.

My rule of thumb, if you can’t thank them when receiving the gift send a note.

Now there are other times when a “thank you” card is absolutely a good idea. For me, those occasions are those gifts that have a “wow” factor. These are the gifts that you think about long after you receive them. The ones that mean a lot to you. This is the ideal occasion to let the gifter know how much their efforts meant to you.

What do you think? Are there occasions that don’t require “thank you” cards?

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