Cheapest Thank You Note

by admin on August 14, 2014

After sitting with this situation for a few months, I thought you and the E-Hellions might be able to use this story as an example of how to make a Thank You note feel as cheap as possible…

I was recently invited to the baby shower of a relative, Amy. Seeing as I was unable to attend, I declined the invitation and asked the hostess (mommy-to-be, Amy’s mother, Anna Marie) where I could mail a gift. Anna Marie never responded with an address so I pulled Amy’s address from my book. I purchased some gifts from the registry, added in a few personal selections, wrapped them in cute themed gift wrap, and planned to mail them to the expectant parents. I decided to wait until the day before the event to send them so I wouldn’t ruin the surprise of the shower.

On the evening of the shower, I received a call from another relative who was able to attend the event. She was appalled that when she presented her gift, Amy’s sister-in-law checked her name off on a clipboard and handed her a pre-printed postcard that stated: “Thank you for the shower gift, we know that we will use it. We appreciate your thoughtfulness and the time you took to choose it!” The card was signed with the names of the expecting parents, but appears to be signed in Anna Marie’s handwriting! My upset confidant said that Amy refused to open the shower gifts in front of the group at the shower, counter to family tradition. I wondered aloud if maybe a more personalized thank you note would follow the private gift-opening.

Four months go by and the baby has arrived, healthy and adorable. I receive a post card with a lovely picture of the newborn on one side… and the pre-printed poem on the other: “Thank you for the shower gift, we know that we will use it. We appreciate your thoughtfulness and the time you took to choose it!” Again the note is signed with the parents’ names, but appears to be in Anna Maria’s handwriting and was mailed using Anna Maria’s return address. I hear from my relative who originally mentioned the cards that she received the same thing- a duplicate of the impersonal Thank You postcard. At least the poem writer knew we would choose useful, thoughtful gifts!

I have included an edited screenshot of the poem. The now blurred area contained the names of Poem Baby’s parents. 0812-14

{ 172 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna Wood August 15, 2014 at 12:44 am

I was surprised that the shower gifts were not opened when received, shocked that the thank you notes were given at the same time as the gift was received. I had a flash vision of a future where one shows up at a shower, wedding, birthday, or other gift giving event, one puts the gift in the hands of someone who hands a pre-printed thank you card to the giver and then the giver is escorted to the exit.
One’s duty done one’s presence is no longer required at the event.

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Schnickelfritz August 16, 2014 at 12:06 pm

! And, you will be handed a to-go box with those cute little cucumber tea sandwiches, little shower mints and nuts, and a piece of cake! Thanks for stopping by!

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K August 19, 2014 at 8:13 am

What you’re describing is an etiquette dystopia, no doubt, but I definitely wouldn’t mind eating the contents of one of those “shower to-go boxes”! Sounds like an awesome boxed lunch.

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hakayama August 15, 2014 at 6:42 am

Looks like some “responders” missed the description of how the notes were handled at the shower: upon entering the venue, the MC checked off the guests’ names on the roster and handed them the thank you note. That was for the shower. The mailed notes, AFTER arrival of baby, were another story.
SPECIAL E-HELL membership for the MTB’s mother for throwing the gift grab fest.
SPECIAL literary(?) hell membership for either/and sweating out or choosing the “poetry” for the card.
So glad not to associate with folks like that…

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k2 August 15, 2014 at 7:38 am

For both of my sister’s bridal showers, guests were asked to write their name and address on an envelop but you better believe all the notes inside were personalized and signed by both my sister and her husband (and sent out in a timely manner following the showers).

Another etiquette conundrum I saw at that particular wedding, that related to the sending of thank you cards was apparently my sister’s new MIL was quite put out that she never received a formal thank you card, despite having been thanked several times in person for her contributions to the wedding and taken out to lunch by the happy couple after they returned from their honeymoon, to say thank you again. What is the protocol here? If someone has been thanked in person and the couple has done something to acknowledge their gratefulness like take the person out for a meal, does etiquette say they should still receive a thank you card as well?

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Dee August 15, 2014 at 11:24 am

Still not okay for the guests to have to write their own envelopes. How lazy can a couple be to demand that?

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Mary August 15, 2014 at 5:52 pm

Definitely not okay to ask guests to address their own cards. Laziness on the guest of honor’s part.

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NostalgicGal August 15, 2014 at 5:55 pm

I’m on the fence about it, but at least the address is CORRECT and the giver can’t be as easily not written down on a list being kept (though the envelope could be lost).

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VA Lady August 15, 2014 at 6:06 pm

if the attendees received their invitations to the shower, and the wedding, i would assume that the HC had the correct address. if they didn’t, the attendees wouldn’t have been there in the first place.

sorry, it’s lazy to have guests address their own envelopes. my daughter and DIL both wrote personalized thank you notes for all bridal shower gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, and baby gifts. they also personally wrote out the addresses on the envelopes.

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BB-VA August 15, 2014 at 7:37 pm

I am on the side of knowing that a guest-written address would be the most accurate possible. So, I will just hang out in that little section of eHell…

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enna August 16, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Maybe a bit lazy but not as bad as the one form the main story.

Kendra August 15, 2014 at 12:11 pm

I think the HC showed their gratitude to MIL, so no, a thank you not would not be required in that case. Buuuuttttt, remember, I believe that thank you notes should be a last resort when it is not possible to express gratitude in a more personal way. Your sis and her new hubby showed their gratitude properly, personally.

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Schnickelfritz August 16, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Terrible practice. And, in my family’s experience, those that sent a gift, but could not attend – never got a thank you! They were not in attendance, to address their own thank you card.

It is very, very tacky – I have noticed it isn’t as popular now as it used to be. I attended a large shower, and one of the hostesses, stood up at the end, and said “Jane” will thank you all now, and let’s not burden her with writing all the thank-you cards!” I was floored! The mother-to-be, was a close friend of mine. She sent me a thank you – it said “I know I am not supposed to send thank-you’s, but I wanted to send you one for helping with the shower.” She only sent out a few thank -you cards. Can you imagine, writing that?

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MM August 15, 2014 at 9:19 am

I think thank you notes have evolved with technology (or they should evolve). A quick email, phone call, GChat session or even Facebook message (private, not public) should be sufficient. I think it shouldn’t be about the method but the thought and sincerity behind it. That being said, this “poem” (a word I use lightly for fear offending actual poets) does not indicate any thought or sincerity. I’d rather get a quick text “thanks for the diaper genie, love it!” than this mess. I’m more offended by it in a literary sense rather than etiquette-wise. If you’re going to write a poem thank you note, at least make it a good poem!!

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Kendra August 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Thumbs Up! This is it exactly. The “thank you” in the OP missed on all levels.

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Miss-E August 15, 2014 at 1:27 pm

I think the reason that handwritten snail-mail thank yous are more etiquette appropriate is that it shows that someone took time to thank you. It takes a few hours to send out thank yous after a wedding, it could take fifteen minutes to send out thank you texts. It comes across as pretty lazy.

That said, I agree with you that I would take a personalized Facebook message over a pre-printed card.

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Yvaine August 18, 2014 at 11:05 am

Heh, my keypad is so bad that it’s probably harder and more time-consuming than writing them by hand. :D

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Hannah August 15, 2014 at 10:50 am

Yuck.

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Livvy17 August 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

By my conservative estimate, the time it takes to 1) earn the money to buy a $50 present, 2)wrap that present, 3) package and mail it, is about 4-5 hours or more. It only takes about 1 minute to write a personalized thank you note, perhaps another minute to put it in the envelope and mail it. Even if I assume that each note is written individually and mailed individually, I can only figure it taking 30 minutes. Think of it as an 800% return on the “investment” of time. It’s inexcuseable to do nothing – it’s like a form of theft, even if it’s only the theft of goodwill.

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Pktaxwench August 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Re: new moms

I went into labor at my baby shower, 3,months early. Yes, at the shower, once I was in the hospital and stabilized, people visited, brought presents and cake, and we continued the party. I mostly remember it….

I was in the hospital a week before he was born, unable to write due to the IV in my hand, but I had all thank you notes written and in the mail before he was released from the NICU 63 days later. (He was a miracle 2lbs6oz at 29 weeks and is now a happy 3 year old.)

If it’s important to you, you take care of it. Obviously, it’s not important to everyone.

(With postage being insane though, I did use the same envelopes for the announcements and thank you notes.)

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Vicki Cole August 15, 2014 at 9:20 pm

At the risk of getting banned from this site for mentioning The Competition: Miss Manners often says that one of the most useful things a person can have is a box of simple, monogrammed, fold-over note cards. They can be used for everything from thank you notes, to expressions of sympathy, to informal invitations, or even just a “thinking of you” message. Had the MTB had cards like these, she wouldn’t have had to even spend money on the pre-printed thank yous.

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Nicky August 15, 2014 at 11:29 pm

Where is the grace in giving? Shouldn’t the giving of gifts, whether for showers, weddings or birthdays, be given with the intention of blessing the guest(s) of honor? Many of the comments are centered on the giver receiving a “proper” thank-you note. Isn’t it “better to give than to receive?”

And where is the compassion for mothers (and fathers) who struggle after the baby is born? Yes, every generation has it “easier” than the previous ones and there will always be moms that can handle more than others, but, is it really “good etiquette” to bash those who fall short of our expectations?

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Lenore August 17, 2014 at 7:59 am

But where is the grace in receiving then? The whole point of thank you cards is, in my experience, to let people know that you appreciate that they took time out of their lives and money out of their wallets to bless you with a gift.

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Stan August 15, 2014 at 11:59 pm

Ladies, Ladies, Ladies, can’t we all just get along? This discussion is just about as bad as the breastfeeding v. formula and stay-at-home moms v. work moms battles! Isn’t it telling that the large majority of commenters that are making negative comments are female? As a guy, I can tell you I don’t expect thank-you notes – the fact that my buddies were there to celebrate with is good enough! Why must women pass judgement on each other and find ways to throw each other under the bus?

Incidentally, a friend of mine who grew up in Asia told me that in his culture, thank-you notes are not expected but if the original guest of honor were to attend something celebratory for you later, than a “similar” gift is the norm to “give face”.

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Fifthmarch August 17, 2014 at 1:25 am

Don’t Troll, Stan. Ehellions, please don’t feed the troll!

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Yet Another Laura August 17, 2014 at 3:38 pm

I’m with you on all of this. I do not believe that thanking people has to be as time-consuming as possible in order to be deemed good enough.

I say thank you and leave it at that.

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Paige August 16, 2014 at 8:53 am

At the risk of being ostracized, I hate opening gifts in front of people too so I can’t blame her on that front. At weddings, we don’t force the couple the sit down in front of everyone and open the gifts so why we have to do it at baby showers is beyond me. This forced act is why I avoided having a birthday party as a child and a bridal shower for my recent marriage.

However, these ladies sound like the classic gimme-pigs I love so much to hear stories about :)

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A different Tracy August 18, 2014 at 10:23 am

Because weddings and showers are completely different events. The point of a wedding is to get married. The point of a shower is to give/receive gifts. Why cut out the entire point?

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Enna August 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Oh dear how tackey

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beenthere August 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I love how the little “thank you” poem mentions “the time you took” indicating that the person writing the poem understood that the time one takes is worth thanking a person for. I wonder that the irony of handing that out on a mass printed “thank you” post card did not hit the the guest of honor, the hostess or the sister with clipboard duty. Are people truly not only that thoughtless, but stupid as well?

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Beverly J. Jefferson September 4, 2014 at 7:07 am

There’s no sense of sincerity there you know! I would not make such thank you note if I don’t really like it. Although a simple thank you that is said personally will be much appreciated, rather than sending such notes.

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