Author Topic: Why written thank you notes?  (Read 3044 times)

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a

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Why written thank you notes?
« on: October 25, 2011, 04:22:38 AM »
In my culture, saying thank you is as important as it is in the US. But there is one difference: it seems that in the US it is very important to always send a written thank you note, including from (young) children. When I grew up, grandma/grandpa/anyone would always be thanked for presents; sometimes in person when we met (and it would be sufficient to thank them at the party in question, if there was one + next time Id meet them), sometimes Id call them and sometimes Id meet them before having had an opportunity to call them. And sometimes I'd write a letter (but never just a thank you note; a thank you note only might even have looked like 'I don't want to spend more time on you'). There was never a requirement for a written thank you note, just a thank you, preferably expressed twice (once on receipt, once commenting on the use of it, having had a chance to use it).

Id be interested in hearing peoples views on why you think it is so important with written notes. I guess to me, Id much prefer my godson to call me to thank me for something, so that we can actually have a conversation, rather than getting a perfunctory written thank you note. Thank you notes do not have to be perfunctory of course, but from reading some threads I sometimes get the impression that the pressure is strong on children to write thank you notes immediately (I think I even read somewhere that the child in question would not be allowed to play with the gift until the thank you note was written) that there is a risk that the cards wouldnt receive as much attention as perhaps desirable.

The only times written thank yous are normally prescribed where Im from Id say are at life celebrations/events such as christenings, confirmations, weddings, big birthdays or similar where it is difficult to have time to thank everyone individually (or even open the presents when the giver is present).

(And looking at the bigger picture, Id prefer less resources to be used, so for that reason I think its a good idea to use verbal thank yous instead of using resources and money on a card.)

So what do you think are written thank yous really important where you are from, and why?

Irishkitty

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2011, 05:35:00 AM »
Interesting... I'm in Ireland and the only occasion that I've received (or given) thank you letters/cards were weddings.

I once received a thank you note from a friend for having them over for dinner. But it's not the norm. A verbal thank you, either in person or by phone, is what is usually done for birthday's and other occasions.

Possibly the only reason that thank you cards are written for wedding gifts are the fact it's possibly the most formal of all events you'll ever participate in. Formal written invitations are rare for other occasions. You might get a cute invite for a kids birthday party but that's about it.

So I think that because it's casual word of mouth or informal invitations the informal thank you's follow.
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Thipu1

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #2 on: October 25, 2011, 10:34:33 AM »
In our family, and among people we know well, a warm verbal Thank You when the gift is opened is usually considered enough.

Christmas gifts from family members living on the other side of the country are acknowledged in a holiday phone call but a written Thank You is still also the norm.

Written Thank You notes are also considered proper for funeral flowers, mass cards and donations to charity.

Luci

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #3 on: October 25, 2011, 01:32:20 PM »
I was raised writing thank you notes - I'm a senior citizen. I do understand now that an oral thank you is now acceptable except for weddings, showers, funerals and delivered gifts. I don't like to talk on the phone (oh! to be 15 again!) but do appreciate an email. I taught my children to write notes always, but they usually don't now except for the situations above.

Now, I think it is just another extra nice touch, like using the good China for special dinners and using my nicest towels for company. Not necessary when paper plates and any clean towel is fine, but nice. I wrote notes to all the people who gave me gifts and stayed with my husband when I was in surgery and the hospital personnel who put notes in my folder. I hate to think what they looked like written by a drugged up person.

Central US here.

Lisbeth

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #4 on: October 25, 2011, 01:40:05 PM »
I think that written notes are necessary for the following situations:

1) The thank-you is for a gift that was sent to you as opposed to being given in person.
2) The thank-you is for special assistance that is for something out of the ordinary.
3) The thank-you is for a rite of passage: birth, graduation, confirmation, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, funeral/condolence.
4) The thank-you is for a shower gift.

In these situations, I think one needs to do a little more to show gratitude than just say "thanks."
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Luci

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #5 on: October 25, 2011, 03:00:25 PM »
Nicely put, Lisbeth. You covered all my situations very succinctly.

violinp

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2011, 03:17:03 PM »
I think that written notes are necessary for the following situations:

1) The thank-you is for a gift that was sent to you as opposed to being given in person.
2) The thank-you is for special assistance that is for something out of the ordinary.
3) The thank-you is for a rite of passage: birth, graduation, confirmation, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, funeral/condolence.
4) The thank-you is for a shower gift.

In these situations, I think one needs to do a little more to show gratitude than just say "thanks."
Nicely put, Lisbeth. You covered all my situations very succinctly.

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a

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2011, 03:29:40 PM »
I think that written notes are necessary for the following situations:

1) The thank-you is for a gift that was sent to you as opposed to being given in person.
2) The thank-you is for special assistance that is for something out of the ordinary.
3) The thank-you is for a rite of passage: birth, graduation, confirmation, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, funeral/condolence.
4) The thank-you is for a shower gift.

In these situations, I think one needs to do a little more to show gratitude than just say "thanks."

I see what you mean and I am surprised that so far most have more or less agreed - it feels like most threads I've read about thank you notes have been dominated by people who strongly feel that a written thank you note is always a necessity. But they might be exceptions :-)

When you write that your listed situations need a little more gratitude than saying 'thanks' I agree - but I don't agree that the best way of doing this is always by writing a note. For 1) and 2), I'd often call/e-mail instead, or reciprocate someone's help by inviting them to dinner or something. For 3, they'd mainly be in writing, and we don't have showers.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2011, 03:41:09 PM by a »

Lisbeth

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2011, 03:38:42 PM »
I think that written notes are necessary for the following situations:

1) The thank-you is for a gift that was sent to you as opposed to being given in person.
2) The thank-you is for special assistance that is for something out of the ordinary.
3) The thank-you is for a rite of passage: birth, graduation, confirmation, bar/bat mitzvah, wedding, funeral/condolence.
4) The thank-you is for a shower gift.

In these situations, I think one needs to do a little more to show gratitude than just say "thanks."

I see what you mean and I am surprised that so far most have more or less agreed - it feels like most threads I've read about thank you notes have been dominated by people who strongly feel that a written thank you note is always a necessity. But they might be exceptoins :-)

When you write that your listed situations need a little more gratitude than saying 'thanks' I agree - but I don't agree that the best way of doing this is always by writing a note. For 1) and 2), I'd often call/e-mail instead, or reciprocate someone's help by inviting them to dinner or something. For 3, they'd mainly be in writing, and we don't have showers.

I'd still write the note for 1 and 2.  It is not always possible to reciprocate with an invitation, and phone calls in these instances seem inadequate to me due to the necessity of arranging for shipping in 1 and in 2, that the assistance is special and extraordinary.
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mechtilde

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2011, 05:14:11 PM »
I'll send a thankyou note when I can't thank the giver in person. I usually end up sending and receiving them at Christmas and on Birthdays. I sent them to everyone after  we got married.

DH finds the whole thing odd, as in Germany where he is from, the giver's name is not listed on the gift- only the name of the recipient.
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Lisbeth

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2011, 05:25:17 PM »
I'll send a thankyou note when I can't thank the giver in person. I usually end up sending and receiving them at Christmas and on Birthdays. I sent them to everyone after  we got married.

DH finds the whole thing odd, as in Germany where he is from, the giver's name is not listed on the gift- only the name of the recipient.

But there would be a return address on it if it was shipped to him, wouldn't there be?  If he received it in person, he would remember who gave it to him, wouldn't he?
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kareng57

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2011, 09:17:40 PM »
There are definitely regional/family variations.  In our family/circle of friends, sincere verbal thanks (either in person or a phone call right away) is fine for a birthday gift.  For more formal occasions such as weddings, though, written thank-you notes are still the standard, and the same for funerals.  Showers - it depends.  Generally, thank-you notes are not necessarily expected as long as the shower was a fairly intimate one where the BTB or MTB/new mother had the opportunity to give a gracious verbal thanks to the giver in person.  (If it was a shower with 60 guests this would be unlikely).  Graduations - I really don't have much experience.  Around here, only parents or perhaps very close relatives such as grandparents would give graduation gifts.

However, in some regions, written thank-you notes are expected for everything, it's true.

mechtilde

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2011, 06:25:19 AM »
I'll send a thankyou note when I can't thank the giver in person. I usually end up sending and receiving them at Christmas and on Birthdays. I sent them to everyone after  we got married.

DH finds the whole thing odd, as in Germany where he is from, the giver's name is not listed on the gift- only the name of the recipient.

But there would be a return address on it if it was shipped to him, wouldn't there be?  If he received it in person, he would remember who gave it to him, wouldn't he?

There would be on the parcel sent through the mail, but it wouldn't be on the actual gift wrapping itself. 
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CakeEater

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #13 on: November 01, 2011, 05:03:57 AM »
I'll send a thankyou note when I can't thank the giver in person. I usually end up sending and receiving them at Christmas and on Birthdays. I sent them to everyone after  we got married.

DH finds the whole thing odd, as in Germany where he is from, the giver's name is not listed on the gift- only the name of the recipient.

But there would be a return address on it if it was shipped to him, wouldn't there be?  If he received it in person, he would remember who gave it to him, wouldn't he?

There would be on the parcel sent through the mail, but it wouldn't be on the actual gift wrapping itself.

So at a wedding, you have a pile of gifts, but no idea who gave you each one?

mechtilde

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Re: Why written thank you notes?
« Reply #14 on: November 01, 2011, 05:31:00 AM »
I'll send a thankyou note when I can't thank the giver in person. I usually end up sending and receiving them at Christmas and on Birthdays. I sent them to everyone after  we got married.

DH finds the whole thing odd, as in Germany where he is from, the giver's name is not listed on the gift- only the name of the recipient.

But there would be a return address on it if it was shipped to him, wouldn't there be?  If he received it in person, he would remember who gave it to him, wouldn't he?

There would be on the parcel sent through the mail, but it wouldn't be on the actual gift wrapping itself.

So at a wedding, you have a pile of gifts, but no idea who gave you each one?

Pretty much. I'm not sure if wedding presents are given in person though- I think they might be. The German guests at our wedding all gave the gifts to us directly.
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