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Should I Write a Thank You Note?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Many etiquette experts suggest that thank you notes are less frequently used than politeness requires. They complain that the practice of writing a note upon receipt of a gift is in decline, and is little encouraged in children who will determine the future of such etiquette. Most people probably don’t write as many thank you notes as etiquette says they should, and many people aren't sure of how to write an appropriate, polite message.

Naturally, you should write a thank you note when you receives a gift, particularly if the gift is mailed. This allows you to at once acknowledge that you received the gift and also assure the giver that the item/cash/gift certificate is just what you wanted. Rules about sending a thank you note may be somewhat relaxed in family settings. For example, a birthday party for a child attended only by family may not require sending out notes. Many etiquette experts disagree, however, and feel it is always the appropriate response.

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Not all families send thank you notes to other family members. If your family dispenses with this tradition, then sending one is not required. New adult members of a family, particularly spouses, should send a thank you note unless told not to do so. In addition, some members of the family may wish to be thanked with a note, while others feel it unnecessary. Finding out who needs a note, such as Grandma, who may be a stickler for etiquette, may help smooth the way toward becoming part of a new family.

There is no good excuse for not sending a thank you note to those who are not family members. Anytime you receive a gift or are rendered a service, a thank you note is the appropriate gesture. If you have erred by not sending thanks in the past, it is better to send a late and apologetic note than to never send one. So if you are embarrassed by a lapse in etiquette, try not to allow that embarrassment to stand in the way of doing the “proper” thing.

In addition to sending a thank you note to those who send gifts, notes should be sent to potential employers after an interview. Even if you do not get the job, the company — and particularly the interviewers — should still be thanked. If possible, make specific reference to a topic discussed in the interview, or a point of interest. The note is not meant to be servile, but to merely thank the interviewer for his or her time. Employment experts feel that such a note can add an additional finish to someone’s application, and as well may build good relationships with employers, or with those who you might work with in the future.

People who are receiving a large number of gifts at a single time, such as newlyweds, should try to personalizing each thank you note. Referring specifically to the gift is far better than a standard, “Thank you for your gift.” Notes sent by email do not count. Unless your handwriting is completely illegible, notes should always be written by hand.

Specificity in the note allows the giver to know that you actually thought about the gift and are enjoying it. Even if this occasionally means a polite lie on the part of the receiver, gifts received should always be acknowledged by a note that is personal and reflects the taste of the giver. If a gift certificate or cash has been received, the thank you note can include thanks for the “generosity,” of the giver, and perhaps an idea of how the money might be spent, even if this involves another polite fiction.

Most people like to have their kind attentions acknowledged. A thank you note to a teacher, a helpful person at a store, or to anyone who renders you or your family a service is always appropriate. Being thanked makes a person more likely to be helpful in the future, since it promotes good feelings. Thus, in almost all cases, you should send a thank you note whenever a person deserves thanks.

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dega2010
Post 2

@boathugger- It is considered proper funeral etiquette to send a thank you note to everyone who sent food, flowers, or just volunteered their time to help. It should also be noted that pallbearers, clergy members, and funeral home staff should also receive a thank you note.

Try to send the thank you notes within two weeks, if possible. Sometimes, in the event of a funeral, it is wise to designate another friend or family member to do the thank you cards. Many of us, while grieving, forget the small things.

BoatHugger
Post 1

My grandmother recently passed away. Numerous people brought food dishes to our house during that time. Should I send thank you cards for that?

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