Acknowledgement of a Thank You Note

by admin on May 29, 2014

My adult son and his two daughters and myself recently visited with my son’s father, and his third wife (I’m the first wife) at their summer home. We were there for 5 days and enjoyed ourselves immensely and were welcomed and made to feel appreciated. We ate their food, used their linens and used the amenities of their gated community swimming pools. When we left, my son and I each contributed $50.00 to a thank you card saying we appreciated the hospitality, and left the card, with their names clearly written on the envelope in a conspicuous place in their home for them to see after we left.

Is it unreasonable for either of us to expect an acknowledgement that they received the card and enclosed money? Of course we don’t expect a thankyou for having thanked them.  Surely though, a polite acknowledgement is in order.  It leaves us wondering if they got it at all. Maybe the cleaning lady threw it out by mistake? Or many other scenarios go through my mind. What are your thoughts please.   0523-14
My thoughts are that I would not have left a note and money in the hopes of it being discovered by accident.   And I probably would not have given cash as a hostess gift since that implies payment for services rendered.   Next time bring a gift such as foods local to your area, several bottles of nice wine, or offer to take them to dinner while there, and for heaven’s sake, make sure you help around the house, keep the guest room and bathroom tidy, etc.
If I were you, I would write another glowing, deeply appreciative thank you note and mail it, sans any cash, to your kind hosts.   Include the phrase, “I just wanted to thank you again for the lovely week at your summer home.  Words cannot express how blessed we were by your exceedingly kind hospitality.”

{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Steve May 29, 2014 at 10:01 am

What about dropping a hint in the new letter? “I know we left a note on the dining room table, but I just wanted to thank you again, etc.”

Failing to acknowledge a thank-you note is a common annoyance, especially when the note is mailed. I understand people want to avoid the infinite recursion of thank-you notes: “Thank you.” “Thank you for your thank-you.” “Thank you for thanking me for my thank-you.” “No problem, thank you for thanking me for thanking you for your thank-you.” But if it’s a one-off note, rather than a mass-mailing after a wedding, it’s really not that hard to mention the fact, or to text “Got your note. Glad you had a good time.”

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Lo May 29, 2014 at 10:44 am

OP, please don’t give people cash as a thank-you gift. Admin is 100% correct that it implies payment.

It’s insulting. I know you mean well; people don’t go around giving money with the intent to insult someone. Unfortunately, that’s how it comes off. Hospitality is not a transaction; that’s like offering someone cash for a gift they gave you.

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Wild Irish Rose May 29, 2014 at 10:47 am

What Admin said.

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Lenore May 29, 2014 at 11:05 am

Leaving money and a thank you note is what you do in a hotel room. If you’re staying with family, surely it’s simpler to just say “Thanks so much for being such gracious hosts. I hope you’ll enjoy this token of our appreciation!” and hand over the card.

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lakey May 29, 2014 at 11:14 am

I do doubt that a cleaning lady would take it upon herself to throw out an envelope with something in it. So OP can relax on that point.
I agree with Administrator. The hosts had their own son and grandchildren as guests in their home. A gift of cash may have felt awkward. The follow up letter suggested by Administrator is a good idea. By the way, including the other Grandmother, OP, was very nice of these people. It’s the sign of people behaving in a healthy manner after a divorce.

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Molly May 29, 2014 at 11:46 am

It feels a little strange to me to give someone that generously hosted you as a guest a wad of cash. How would they thank you? “Thanks for paying for our services.”

Next time maybe buy a gift certificate to a local restaurant and say you’d like to treat them to a night out or get them a gift basket with some gourmet goodies. Cash just seems like a business transaction.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 29, 2014 at 12:19 pm

There are two considerations here- you were a guest accompanying a family member (invited because of your relationship to your son), and hospitality isn’t repaid in cash, but in kind. Staying in someone’s home doesn’t call for cash but a thank you letter or card and an offer to host the other party twice- once while you are there in order to relieve them of the burden of entertaining and hosting you and once on your return home if reasonably feasible. Cash might be okay with some as a gift but it can sting for hosts, particularly. It has the unfortunate consequence of putting a price on their efforts to host you that is not quite nice. Thank you notes aren’t acknowledged but in the case of the gift that you attached- perhaps they were stymied for how to respond.

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lkb May 29, 2014 at 1:33 pm

I understand what the Admin means about a cash gift making the wrong impression. However, because a significant amount of cash was indeed left, I would think that, in addition to the Admin’s wording, something like the following would be appropriate: “We wanted to ensure you received the token of our appreciation we left behind on our last visit.”

To avoid a possible perceived insult (BTW, I admire the OP for being a first wife who apparently gets along well with a third wife and the ex), it could be phrased in a lighthearted way. (The following was paraphrased from a story I read in which a young adult guest wanted to express his thanks but did not want to insult or embarrass his elderly, impoverished host:

“Knowing that you, like me, enjoy fine art, we wanted to be sure you received the fine examples of presidential portraiture we left you in our thank-you note at the end of our visit.”

(In the original story, the recipient responded with a kind, “Yes, thank you. It’s been many years since I’ve been able to view that particular portrait. I do appreciate it.” (That kind-hearted exchange made me a bit teary, truth be told.)

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Raven May 29, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Cute!

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NostalgicGal May 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I would think that the spouse and wife would have found the card; I would agree about writing the note as the admin says. Next time you are so inclined to do so, MAIL the card to them instead of leave it sit out.

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The Elf May 29, 2014 at 1:56 pm

Thank you notes and money aside, I’m just thrilled there are families where the first ex-wife and the current third wife can be under the same roof without killing each other. Good for you all!

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JO May 30, 2014 at 5:09 am

Hear hear!

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Meegs May 30, 2014 at 8:04 am

I was thinking the exact same thing! That’s awesome!

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Dominic May 29, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Perhaps they were embarrassed or taken aback to receive a thank-you note containing a cash gift, and decided that the best thing would be not to mention it. It was a nice thought, but not the usual type of host gift that I would think of.

On occasion I have borrowed a car from a friend of my brother when visiting my family back home, and each time when returning her vehicle, in addition to filling the tank, I left a gas card or car wash certificates with a thank-you note for the person who provided the car. But this is a different situation. Here, the OP was not borrowing the home; they were enjoying the hosts’ hospitality, for which payment is not expected.

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Miss-E May 29, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Some people might misconstrue the second thank you note as a sarcastic thing attempting to draw attention to the fact that they didn’t acknowledge the first note. But I do agree with Admin that a gift is better than cash, especially something that the hosts wouldn’t normally get for themselves. As far as not getting a thank you for the thank you, it’s pretty normal. That would start a cycle of unending thank yous.

Also, ever since I was a little kid I would leave a thank you note to my aunt on the guest bed when I left. She loved finding that note after we were gone and she was doing the tedious job of cleaning and its become a tradition for us.

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Cat May 29, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I give cash only if I stay in a home when the home-owner is not present. I do it to help pay for the water, sewer, and electric bill that I ran up while there. I strip the bed and clean before I leave as well.
If I am a guest in their home while they are present, I send flowers or food once I reach home. Prime rib, salmon, steaks, and ribs can all be ordered from a variety of companies. Men don’t generally care much for flowers, but they love a nice grilled steak.

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Brit May 30, 2014 at 5:25 am

Someone gave us steak as a gift once; they left it in the fridge with a thank you note.

More, they’d gone to the place we use to buy meat – we are very much into rare breeds and food provenance.

It was really touching.

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Angela May 29, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Your son and his family are really, really fortunate that his mom, his dad and dad’s new wife all get along that well.
That’s all I wanted to say, really.

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Justine May 29, 2014 at 5:04 pm

I understand what the writer meant, but I too would not give cash. A friend was hosting another friend and I overnight to attend a class reunion. I handed the host my thank you card with a pre-purchased gift card I brought with me. I handed it to her after hugging her good-bye. She did send an email saying how much she enjoyed my company and that the gift card was to one of her favorite stores.

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babs May 29, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Pretty much what everyone else said. The way to express appreciation is to be a good guest, as Admin said, pitch in and make sure that everything stays neat and tidy among the 4 of you. It would have been good if you and your son planned ahead of time to take them out for dinner, or for lunch if dinner for a group wasn’t in your budget. That’s what we always do when we are traveling and stay with friends or relatives. It’s a nice way to show appreciation, especially if it is family and no gift is expected. A follow up note is always appreciated.

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Whodunit May 29, 2014 at 9:08 pm

As an ex-wife, I can only imagine that a gift of cash from you may have been exceedingly awkward, confusing and insulting and one that the hosts would not want to mention again. Drop it.

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just4kicks May 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm

You could tell a little white lie and say “we bought a card for you just to say thanks for the lovely time and gracious hospitality, but we can’t find it anywhere! I’m so upset we lost your card!” Which leaves the door open for them to say….”Oh no dear, someone left it on the table! We got it just fine!”

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Mojo May 30, 2014 at 2:28 am

Most gift vouchers are really just the same as cash, unless it’s for a specific store or service that’s really meaningful – an art shop for a keen artist, or gardening vouchers, book tokens etc. Usually when well off people do something nice for you, you give them a pot of jam.

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Stacey Frith-Smith May 30, 2014 at 10:01 am

Who knew? How wealthy does one have to be to start collecting those tasty pots of jam? I’m willing to work on my finances to qualify! Then I could enjoy my just desserts. (Okay, that was bad. But I couldn’t resist. I should have, but I couldn’t.)

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Sharon May 30, 2014 at 5:41 am

Oh dear. Was I wrong to leave cash when my husband and I visited my cousin in another state, who had kindly rented a car and drove us all over the place on family business? I asked her to take it for gas money. We had already taken her and her husband out to dinner (they had treated us the night before) and brought a small food gift from our city. We did ask them to allow us to help pay for the car, but they refused, saying they were considering buying one of that type and wanted to try it out. But I hope it wasn’t insulting to offer to pay for gas…? They are extremely generous people and cooked for us, etc. We helped out as much as they would allow and cleaned up after ourselves (emptied trash cans, etc.) when we left.

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Lo May 30, 2014 at 8:18 am

I think leaving gas money is a gray area– you just have to know your recipient. I don’t think it’s insulting at all to offer to pay for gas at the time (I wish people did so more often), though leaving the money in defiance of an offer; ie, you offer multiple times, they refuse, and you leave money anyway, could be construed that way if that were the case.

I think the gifts you had already given in that scenario were fine and very generous; dinner and a food gift. With splitting expenses I think it’s better to be upfront and persist and not be wishy-washy; because people tend to refuse the first time or two out of politeness. Use the phrase, “I insist” and if you get refused a third time then you drop it. That’s my rule of thumb, anyway.

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susan May 30, 2014 at 6:31 am

I always wish my guests would take me out to eat as a thank you. I feel that I feed them three meals a day and that a dinner out would be a great thank you.

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Daphne May 31, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I’ve actually been on the other side of this equation. I have received cash a number of times as a hostess gift from family members and it has always made me feel terrible.
On one occasion I had my family over for a light snack and then a matinee’ at our local theater to see a play. (We are season ticket holders and so the cost was quite reasonable.) The next day when cleaning I found an envelope on the mantel with quite a large sum of money in it and a thank-you card for the nice time. When I showed my husband he said “Why did they do that?” and then only half joking, “Now I feel like a prostitute”. And of course, then I was in the awkward position of having to thank THEM for an over the top thank-you that was way more valuable than the original “gift”.

Bottom line is I didn’t feel good about it. The money tainted what should have been a wonderful memory. And it made me realize my family was never going to allow me to be a gracious hostess. So I stopped asking.

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Angel June 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm

I agree with most of the others about cash as a thank you gift. Even just a nice note–a bottle of wine or chocolates–or even taking them out to dinner I think would be a thoughtful enough gesture. Cash would make me feel kind of weird as well. Take this as a lesson learned for the next time. I mean I wouldn’t go so far as to say that cash is insulting–but I think it kind of takes a little away from the host’s wanting to provide hospitality–not out of sense of obligation, but because they really want to. And for this no cash payment is required.

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Em June 2, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I am confused as to why you would think money is an appropriate gift. You have children and grand children with this person. It’s almost as if you’re making this a business transaction, rather than something that was meant to be an enjoyable time between pseudo family members. You shared money with the man at one point. if I were him I would feel a bit like I was lessened, like you were saying that that was all I was worth.

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Nan June 6, 2014 at 11:40 am

It is quite common to leave cash gifts for staff when you stay at a house employing a housemaid, driver, or a cook. If the cleaning lady ended up with the money it would be in this tradition – and perhaps not unjust if you caused her extra work!

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