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When A Thank You Note Morphs Into Being A Receipt

I have noticed a trend among my family and friends who live in this area of the country regarding thank you notes that has become a pet peeve, but maybe ehellions can help me view it more charitably. Whether for a wedding or a child’s birthday party, people have been sending printed thank you cards with a picture of the honoree and a generic “Thank you for sharing my special day” message. Even their name is preprinted.

Am I completely out of line in thinking that this is about the sender making this more about them than actually thanking the recipient? I would rather receive a text or phone call after the event with a personalized message than a thank you that doesn’t actually acknowledge what the sender is thanking me for.

I’ll admit that I send Christmas cards like this – Merry Christmas from the family with a picture of the kids on it. Is this simply the same thing? Should I just be thankful that any sort of acknowledgement was sent and put less effort into personalizing gifts?  0516-16

When a thank you note is nothing more than a pre-printed, impersonal, generic acknowledgement of a gift, it has become a receipt.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • EyesToTheSkies May 18, 2016, 11:19 pm

    I’ve only come across one exception to this rule – a friend of mine has terrible tremors in her hands (I’ve never asked why, and have no intention of doing so), and either hires someone to write her invitations and notes, or does them on the computer , as her handwriting resembles a 5 year olds. (Actually, there’s a perfect e-hell story surrounding her wedding regarding this issue that I should submit one day. People are awful.)

    Your guests took the time to buy and wrap a gift, and fill out a card or gift-tag; you should have the time to reciprocate with a pen and paper.

    • girl_with_all_the_yarn May 20, 2016, 8:41 am

      Or at the very least, a well laid out and personalized thank you letter on the computer. I make mine with pictures of the gift in use and custom stationary. I figure, as long as it’s unique it’s fun.

      I once did a crash course in web code for a bunch of middle schoolers. They all sent me thank you notes… that they made in web code. I had to render each folder in my browser to see them. It was amazing to see the skill I’d taught these kids used right away.

  • AnaMaria May 18, 2016, 11:21 pm

    Christmas cards are fine to pre-print because you don’t owe anyone a personalized card. If you have time, a personalized one line on the back of the card is nice, but not required. Thank you are different.

    In all fairness, as a teacher, I am shocked at how little time is being devoted to handwriting and fine motor skills. Many of my kids cannot read cursive and struggle to print. I got yelled at last year when a senior asked me to teach her cursive (her first language is Amharic and their letter formation would be closer to Roman Alphabet cursive, so she thought she could take notes and write more easily if she knew it). I was told that I was “too educated” to be teaching handwriting and that the occupational therapist could teach her cursive (even though she didn’t qualify for any occupational therapy), and that I had more important things to teach her (because who needs to write to learn?). Anyway, my point is, many young brides and grooms or new parents may be embarrassed by their penmanship or may not have the fine motor skills needed to write 150 thank you notes (at least, not without spending ridiculous amounts of time.). I’d rather received a typed note than no note, but I agree a text or Facebook message would be more personable.

    • Lady Macbeth May 19, 2016, 11:59 pm

      I feel it is sad when things have come to the “a text or Facebook would be more personable” level in the thank-you department.

      • Eva May 23, 2016, 3:05 am

        agreed. I would rather have a pre-printed card. In that case the sender at least went out and thought about, which card s/he bought, adressed and sent it. A text or Facebook-message take all of 5 minutes.

    • caverat May 24, 2016, 12:12 am

      Ugh, off the main topic, but as an occupational therapist myself, I hate when people think that all we do is “teach handwriting”. Like we have time for that in a half hour session a week. There is so much more to the job than writing! And anyone who is a senior would most certainly not qualify (as was the case with your student) unless something dire had happened to them. If only teachers were allowed to still teach what kids are physically ready to learn instead of what some random adults working for the government think they should know, I’d probably be out of a job!

      Back on topic… there’s nothing so ungrateful as a thank you card that can’t even be bothered to mention what the gift is. You spent time picking out a gift for me, but I sure as heck can’t be bothered to spend a moment on you! Gee, thanks.

      • AnaMaria May 24, 2016, 1:25 pm

        “Those who can, teach. Those who cannot, make laws about teaching.”

      • Jessica May 30, 2016, 1:06 pm

        caverat I just want to say that my little boy James had to see an occupational therapist because he was so far behind his peers and it made him very shy, he had no friends and hated school. He was only 8 but was so depressed. We were referred the the OT and from the start he started to change, he had so much more confidence, he went from not being able to read or write to wanting to write and then read his little brother bedtime stories. He started to play cricket and tennis and we found he is an extremely talented tennis player. He is now 10 and has many friends, he even cried when his last session with his therapist was over.
        Occupational therapists do not get enough credit. They saved my son’s childhood.
        Thank you for what you do x

  • NostalgicGal May 18, 2016, 11:32 pm

    Is it e-sent or was it printed off, put in an envelope and mailed? E-sent, it’s nothing more than a receipt. If it was ‘gone through the effort’ to print and mail it, then it’s just a tack-ee thank you.

    • Girlie May 20, 2016, 8:50 am

      Sometimes there’s barely any effort in the print it, too, because most people just order them online and they get shipped ready to them. So all they have to do is address it and send it.

      • KrissyN May 20, 2016, 10:07 pm

        Some places will even address them and send them, cutting out the “middle man” totally. Of course in this case the middle man is the gift recipient who should be giving thanks who instead isn’t even laying eyes (or hands) on the thank you cards at all.

  • AJ May 19, 2016, 12:45 am

    What I get from the preprinted card is: “I know I’m supposed to thank people for giving my gifts but I can’t be bothered so what’s the least effort I can put into this?”

    Trouble is, others will be thinking the same and before long this will be commonplace.

  • Sarah May 19, 2016, 1:40 am

    How about next time you get an invitation from these people you send a pre-printed card “Dear Honoree, Congratulations on your happy day.”

    • Snarkastic May 21, 2016, 2:09 pm

      Classic. Wish someone would do that!

  • Marie May 19, 2016, 3:09 am

    Sending thank you cards for a birthday party sounds odd to me. At a wedding, you don’t get to thank everyone in person on the day itself, so you send a card to thank your guests… but a birthday party?
    I thank people when they leave and come to say goodbye. I think sending a card later on is overdoing it and just sending a card for the sake of sending a card. What is next? Sending a card to thank for the thank you card?
    For context: I’m from Europe, not America.

    • Dawn May 19, 2016, 9:37 pm

      The thank you note is for the gift that would have been given to the birthday person or the wedding couple.


    • Thank You OP May 19, 2016, 10:05 pm

      At a child’s birthday party, guests bring gifts. There is a thank you when the gifts are opened, but then a generic “thank you for celebrating my birthday” picture card is sent. The children don’t even sign their names.

    • Annie May 20, 2016, 11:00 am

      Typically you would send a card to thank someone for a birthday gift–not just for attending a birthday party.

      My best friend’s lovely husband is from Europe (we live in the US). He was complaining about the US custom of sending thank you notes for things that don’t require them in Europe. So, after I stayed with them, I sent a thank you note (I probably would have anyway, but it was at least partly to get his goat).

      My best friend told me that her husband was seriously considering sending me a thank you note for my thank you note. He decided not to, when he considered that he might be starting a thank you note battle that would last for years 🙂

      • AnaMaria May 24, 2016, 4:09 pm

        I’d say the one exception is, for a child’s birthday, when one guest comes but isn’t able to bring a gift. My parents were always insistent that those guests get a “thank you for coming to my party.” It was probably embarrassing to be the only guest at the party without a present, and I’m glad my parents taught me to acknowledge and appreciate their presence above all else.

    • Dee May 20, 2016, 6:22 pm

      Marie – The point is to thank your guests and gift-givers. If done in person and personally (to the person’s face) then a note is not required. The note is generally expected when there have been large gatherings and it’s going to be difficult/next to impossible to give personal thanks. A face-to-face thanks, a note, a phone call, they are all personal and proper ways of expressing gratitude. Whatever makes you comfortable is the way to do it.

      • Marie May 23, 2016, 5:52 am

        But then, how does it go at birthday parties, especially for children? The ones I attended as a child always had the birthday boy/girl opening their gifts, and then thanking the person it came from. The same happened when we moved into teenagers, and another thanks was given when the person came to say goodbye when they were leaving.
        I can definitely understand at large gatherings where there is a special gift table and gifts are not opened and thus not properly thanked for – I send out cards after my wedding (printed on the front, but blank on the inside where I wrote personal messages). So no need to explain the concept of it.
        But how many children come to a children’s party? Ten? Twenty? Or maybe it’s etiquette in America to not open your gift during the party? (I know in Japan it’s rude to open a gift in front of your guests.)

        • Dee May 25, 2016, 10:07 am

          Marie – The gift giver can’t be properly thanked if the gift hasn’t been opened yet. Otherwise, what are they being thanked for? Maybe the box is empty; who knows? In order for the “thank you” to be personal it should include something about the gift, about how wonderful/useful it is, or whatever. If you want to thank the guest just for attending the party then that can be done when they are leaving, and a thank you note sent afterwards for the gift, if it wasn’t opened at the party.

          I don’t understand not opening gifts at a party, with the exception of the very busy weddings that now seem to be the norm. When someone takes the time to give you something, putting it aside for later seems brusque and ungrateful. The giver would like to witness the recipient’s joy in person. And children want to see what the birthday boy/girl received; if the gifts are put aside for later then how are they played with by all the children and, particularly, the birthday boy/girl and the person who gave it to them? The kids would be very disappointed if the gifts weren’t opened at the party. But I’m not American so maybe the differences are regional.

          • Thank You OP May 26, 2016, 4:30 pm

            I can’t speak for everyone in my region, but often children’s parties are held at a bowling alley, skating rink, arcade, etc and the party is very strictly scheduled. Kids get to play, then have food and cake after everyone sings. Gifts are not opened in front of everyone.

            I actually prefer not opening gifts in front of groups. Unfortunately, I have been caught in middle of family trying to one up each other to see who can give the most impressive gifts at both my bridal and baby showers. Maybe it is just my extended in-laws, but I am now noticing that have have a way of making everything about them, not the recipient (of either their gifts or their thank yous).

  • Mrs Wildrover May 19, 2016, 4:48 am

    I think these days, getting a thank you card or any acknowledgement is good.

  • lkb May 19, 2016, 5:16 am

    As described in the original post, I can’t even call it a receipt: Receipts usually list the specific item in question.

  • Just4Kicks May 19, 2016, 6:00 am

    I had to hide my oldest son’s car keys, with a threat that his phone was next, until he started writing out his thank you notes from high school graduation gifts.
    He had about 40 or so, and told him write out five a night while you’re watching tv, and at the end of the week, I’ll take them to the post office.
    His dad said “Well, if mom takes half of them, you can both finish all of them in a day or two”.
    “Why not?!?”
    “Because, they are YOUR gifts, given to YOU, not me, it’s your responsibility to write them.”
    Unless….you want to give me half of the money.
    He and his dad were quite perturbed with me that I wouldn’t do them for him. Too bad.
    I told my husband, if HE was so eager, he could help our son.
    “Are you kidding? I don’t have time for that!!!”
    Neither do I.

    • NostalgicGal May 20, 2016, 12:52 am

      Ah yes, we finally got that sorted in our house, that if one spouse makes plans it doesn’t include the other one. No volunteering the other for anything. If I say I will come help you move, you get me. If he wants to help, he can but. Same thing, he can decide to do something and I am NOT obligated to do anything. As for thank you cards, it’s your gift it’s your responsibility. I remember doing some in first grade and my mother wrote out what I had to copy, but I wrote out the words myself in pencil.

    • Huh May 20, 2016, 8:21 am

      Oh H to the NO. Why is that certain things like that get deemed “women’s work” by some people? I agree, if you’re thanking them, then you’re getting the cash!

    • barb May 20, 2016, 9:12 am

      you are my hero.

      • Just4Kicks May 21, 2016, 1:19 am

        @All who commented: Thanks! 🙂

        I’m by no means the perfect mom, and my husband is a good and loving father.
        But, I (try) to put Mom first, then friend, my husband is the other way around sometimes.
        One of our son’s friends got caught smoking pot, I bought a drug test, to make sure he was telling us the truth he wasn’t using drugs as he hung out with this kid quite alot.
        We asked him several times and the answer was “Nope, I’m not, drug test me if you don’t believe me.”
        One day, after the same answer I said “okay….here, pee in this please” pulling a cup from behind my back.
        My husband???
        His response was “Uh oh, Mom is serious….SHE is drug testing you!!!”
        I’m sure I don’t have to tell you the HUGE fight that ensued after THAT comment.
        Can you PLEASE back me the hell up, and stop making me the bad guy?!?
        Test came back negative, I still feel it was the right thing to do.

    • ANNA May 21, 2016, 12:47 am

      Kind of shocking to me that he thought that was acceptable to even suggest!

      • Just4Kicks May 23, 2016, 3:42 am

        @Anna: Nothing shocks me anymore.
        One of my kids left until the last minute two books he had to read for school.
        “Why doesn’t mom read one of them and tell you what it’s about?”
        Yeah….No, just NO…

  • Ripple May 19, 2016, 6:42 am

    Do you know how, if you send a letter by certified mail, you get a green card back to say the letter was received? That’s what these thank-you’s are like. But at least they are acknowledging they got a gift. And no, your Christmas cards aren’t the same; they’re more like a post card (boy, am I dating myself) that says “Wish you were here”.

  • CW May 19, 2016, 7:52 am

    Does anyone send thank you cards because they genuinely want to thank someone or do we do it out of obligation?

    • Molly May 19, 2016, 9:14 pm

      I love to thank people who take the time and effort to get me a gift or go out of their way to do something nice for me. I’m pretty sure most people feel that way too. Right??

    • Cat May 19, 2016, 9:37 pm

      Some do. The best one I have ever received came from a teenage son of a friend. I had sent him a beautiful men’s sweater for Christmas. His thank you note began, “That sweater you sent me is AWESOME!” It was a great thank you note.

    • Dawn May 19, 2016, 9:42 pm

      Sad. A person SHOULD be thankful when someone takes the time to give them a gift. If they don’t have that much gratitude, then feel obligated. Write the dang note. And teach your children to do the same thing.


    • Cheryl May 20, 2016, 3:22 am

      When I write a thank you note, it is a little of both. I include what the item was in the thank you and write, not print it out, I try very hard to personalize it. These people went to the trouble of finding something they thought I would need/enjoy so the least I can do is thank them for it. When hubby and I got back from our honeymoon, we wrote the thank yous as we opened each gift. Then we came to three presents with two cards detached– and one present which was not even wrapped and no card. I called my mother to see if she had any clue as to who sent what. Turns out the unwrapped one was from an aunt who was convinced I would not get married (hubby and I had not been fighting; I think she thought he was imaginary) and had gone home between the wedding and reception while we were taking pictures and got something and brought it back to the reception!

    • Lisa S. May 20, 2016, 1:32 pm

      Personally, I think it’s out of obligation. I remember asking my mother when I was a child, “If I thanked everyone in person already at Christmas or my birthday party, why do I have to write a note?” She said that this is what polite people do. Maybe she just thought it was a good habit to get into.

      Now, my wedding gifts were different, because we didn’t open the presents in front of our guests. And I really did want to thank people.

      • CW May 20, 2016, 6:45 pm

        I think there have been posts about that before. If I give a gift and the person says, “thank you” in person, I wouldn’t be offended if I didn’t get a card later. Is a double thank you really necessary?

        Plus, I’m pretty sure everyone can tell an enthusiastic card from a “I’m supposed to write you a thank you card for the item/gift card/cash so here it is and it’s incredibly insincere” card.

  • Queen of Putrescence May 19, 2016, 8:19 am

    I’ve even received photo Christmas cards five months after a couple gets married with their wedding photo on the front and a generic mass printed thank note for the wedding gift on the back.

    • Girlie May 20, 2016, 8:52 am

      haha, these are the best!!

    • AppleEye May 21, 2016, 6:17 am

      My parents once received a pre-printed photo Christmas card, which had a hastily scribbled “thanks for the wedding present” jotted across the bottom, as a complete afterthought. It didn’t even say ‘dear so and so,’ or ‘sincerely xxx…’ The wedding had been the previous May.

  • DGS May 19, 2016, 8:22 am

    I may be an old-fashioned fuddy-duddy, but I think there’s no substitute for a thank-you note. My not quite 5-year-old was taught to sit down and scribble a thank-you (now, he can write one, but a year ago, he could just scribble his name) as he was opening his presents. I don’t think it’s okay to just send a generic note.

  • Vic May 19, 2016, 8:32 am

    I hear what you’re saying. But, frankly, I’m just happy to receive any acknowledgement at all, regardless of what form it takes! In the last 5 years, I’ve attended 3 weddings, and sent very nice gifts, since this was family, and didn’t receive any type of thank you at all.

    Last year, I attended a wedding for a friend’s daughter. I gave a gift. The bride and groom ignored all the guests except for their closest friends. A month later, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a card in the mail from the bride’s mother, until I opened it and saw it was an invitation to a baby shower. Not only was I not thanked for my wedding gift, they now expected another gift. They didn’t get one.

    At this point, I’ll take a preprinted card and be grateful for it!

  • JD May 19, 2016, 9:08 am

    I give the couple half a point for recognizing that some kind of thank you needs to be sent, but that’s it. I’ll not fuss about pre-printed notes if they also include a handwritten note, even a brief one: “The Crock-Pot was sorely needed and is already in use. Thanks!” But a completely handwritten note is best. It can be two brief lines even, but if someone makes the effort to use their hard-earned cash and time to get one a present, one should be able to write a 30-second thank you note. I’ve gotten a thank you note that said no more than “Thanks so much for the cute towels, they match our bathroom exactly! Love, X,” but the point is, it was handwritten and sent in a timely manner, so the couple got a figurative pat on the back from me. And a baby gift, when that time rolled around.
    My view of printed cards: pre-printed Christmas cards are simply greetings, voluntary and un-prompted. I myself prefer a handwritten greeting or sign off (or both) on a pre-printed Christmas card, but I’m not going to expect it of others; they don’t even have to send me a card at all, so I’m not in the position to criticize. Thank you notes are “owed,” as in, “a debt of gratitude.” Those, I expect to have at least some of the recipients’ handwriting on them. Otherwise, as admin said, they become a receipt.

  • Christina May 19, 2016, 9:19 am

    I agree with OP and admin.

    I get the appeal of wanting to send an actual photo of yourself from the wedding day, but not every guest needs or wants a picture of you holding a “thank you” sign. I think some people believe it’s more personal, or more of a ‘keepsake’.

    And if you choose to do the photo route, there should still be a hand written note and signature included. Thank you’s should always be personal and sincere.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 19, 2016, 8:33 pm

      I have received wedding thank you notes that were a picture of the couple from the wedding. But fortunately most of them had a personalized hand written note on the back.

      • Agania May 24, 2016, 6:58 pm

        I wrote out individual, proper thank you notes for our wedding. I’ve always hated the whole photo of the happy couple. Instead, I included a photo of the present giver at our wedding. I’d asked our photographer to take lots of happy snaps of our guests for this purpose. 12 years later and the photo of one particular guest and me is still on her fridge!!

  • elizabeth May 19, 2016, 9:56 am

    We used a card with a wedding photo printed on it as our Thank you cards, the difference is that we wrote a personal message with mention of the individual and their gift on it. We just used a picture because we thought it would be a fun way to do the Thank you cards. I agree a preprinted card with no personal message is just a way to do the “polite” thing without actually doing the right thing. In that instance I too would have preferred a phone call or text acknowledging receipt of the gift.

    • Rae May 19, 2016, 9:24 pm

      A relative did that for her wedding thank you notes last fall and made sure to mention the gift. I loved it!

    • Mojo May 20, 2016, 2:48 am

      Bingo, that’s my favourite thing to get after a wedding. A lovely picture of the couple I can have as a keepsake, and just a few lines on the back showing appreciation for the gift and for sharing the day. Perfect.

    • Becca May 20, 2016, 9:17 pm

      I love that. It’s less likely to just get the “awww Jenny and Joe sent a thank you card”, more “this picture for the family album AND a special message you’ll keep forever usually

  • Lerah99 May 19, 2016, 10:15 am

    I was browsing for new Thank You cards at the store recently.
    I was shocked to see some that were pre-printed along the lines of:

    Thank you for .
    I really appreciate it!

    My mom and I had a hearty laugh about them and all the different ridiculous things we could fill into the blanks Mad Libs style.

    For example:
    Dear WIFE,
    Thank you for BABY.
    I really appreciate it.

    Dear COP,
    Thank you for TICKET.
    I really appreciate it.

    I don’t think it is a horrible burden to expect people to write out 2-4 sentences as a thank you for their gifts.

    But to have pre-made thank you cards with the picture of the person/people who received the gift with a generic pre-printed message along the lines of: “Thank you for joining us on our special day! We are truly touched by all the support and love we received.” seems to be a cop-out.
    One more thing for the wedding/party industry to sell, but not really a Thank You note.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 19, 2016, 8:34 pm

      I have seen those fill in the blank thank you notes. But they were used by 4-7 year olds who were still learning to write!

      • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 7:57 am

        I can see how they would be a great “training wheels” version of thank you notes for little kids.

    • Ellex May 19, 2016, 9:47 pm

      I should get those for my aunts and grandparents who insisted on receiving Thank You cards but never bothered to send me one.

      Seriously, I’ve never gotten a thank you card from any of my older family, only my peers.

      • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 7:59 am

        That’s funny. My experience has been the opposite.
        My grandparents, aunts, and uncles are always great about sending thank you notes and Christmas cards.

        My own brother, on the other hand, has never sent me a thank you card.
        Nor have any of my cousins nor their kids.

        It’s like Christmas Cards and Thank You cards just stopped at my generation and I’m the last hold out in the family.

    • Just4Kicks May 20, 2016, 4:53 am

      @Lerah99: I once got pulled over for speeding just as I was about to turn into my driveway.
      I had forgotten to get something important at the store, as I left the store, I realized my little ones at the time would be getting off the bus very soon and would very upset no one was home.
      The officer was very nice, and I admitted I was speeding (not by a lot, but was over the speed limit) to beat the bus home so my kids wouldn’t freak out.
      He said he understood, but still needed to issue me a ticket.
      When he back to the car, I held up the bag from the store and said “I’ve got candy, want some?”
      He just laughed, handed me my ticket and info, and then said “Well…what do you have?”
      I held up.the bag and he picked out a candy bar, said thank you and I replied “thanks for the speeding ticket!”
      He laughed again and said “THAT’S a first!”
      Turns out that the school bus was five minutes late anyway….

      • Just4Kicks May 20, 2016, 12:56 pm

        ….And, no, the candy wasn’t the important thing I forgot. 🙂
        I was missing a key ingredient to our dinner that night…the candy was an impulse buy.

        • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 8:01 am

          That’s hilarious!
          I’m glad that even though you’ve got a ticket you were able to laugh.

    • JD May 20, 2016, 9:03 am

      I love those! I want to buy some generic thank you notes now! You and your mom have a great idea.
      Dear DOCTOR,
      Thank you for THE COLONOSCOPY.
      I really appreciate it.

      • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 8:03 am

        LOL! Exactly!
        Plus, I think the people receiving them would be amused.
        I should probably get a pack so I can give one to my OB/GYN after my annual woman check up.
        She would think it was a hoot.

  • Dee May 19, 2016, 10:38 am

    It’s not a “thank you” note, it’s a cop-out. How did the sender actually thank you personally? They didn’t. But it is insulting, letting the giver know they are not worth the two minutes it would take to show gratitude. I’ve received replies to gifts that were definitely not “thank you” notes and I consider them a heads-up on whether to contribute further to that person’s life, seeing as how they are not particularly thankful for what I’ve given/done, and so I won’t bother them further. It’s not my loss.

  • Ashley May 19, 2016, 11:21 am

    I hate stuff like that.

    I always make a note of who got me what so I can write them a note thanking them specifically for what they got. Even though the generic route certainly would have been less time consuming and my hand wouldn’t have hurt as much, you better believe that the thank yous for my bridal shower and wedding were personalized.

  • Michelle May 19, 2016, 11:48 am

    Unfortunately I have come to realize that as long as you give a gift, you most likely will not hear from the recipients until it’s time to give another gift or if your gift is deemed “not expensive enough” you will get a letter asking for an additional gift of cash, to cover the cost of “hosting” you.

    I think the preprinted TY cards are just another way the gift giving industry has come up with to wring additional cash out of people. I imagine the pitch goes something like this: “You will be so busy just before/after getting married/having a baby you will not have time to write individual, personalized thank you notes! For only an additional amount of $XX we can include preprinted thank you cards for you! It will save you so much time and the notes will still get sent to those people who have the audacity to think you should show appreciation for receiving wedding / baby gifts you are so obviously entitled to!” Well, maybe not just like that but that’s pretty much what it boils down to.

  • Devin May 19, 2016, 11:56 am

    I might be in the minority, but i think these thank you cards are quite nice, especially the ones that use one or more pictures of the event on the card. These items take time to put together, and can be quite expensive to make. I think they’re extra nice for people who may have sent a gift but couldnt attend. I find them better than a tradiotional thank you when these ‘stock’ cards have a line to two with a personal message, but as long as the card is specific to the holiday/event they are thanking you for, I find them acceptable. Definitely better than no acknowledgement at all!

    • Betsy May 20, 2016, 9:34 am

      The photo cards are wonderful but without a personal message acknowledging what you sent it is just a photo. Even with the personal message. Is it better than nothing at all – I suppose.

      • Stephbwfern May 23, 2016, 5:17 am

        I sent a photo card out when my first baby was born – bubs’ photo on the front, handwritten, personalised message on the back. I discovered about 6 months after I sent them that many family members never saw the message on the back and, hence, concluded that I never acknowledged or thanked them for their gifts/well wishes/etc. Not sure what I could have done differently, there. I thought they’d appreciate a picture of the baby as opposed to a random generic baby-themed picture that may have prompted them more to turn the thing over.

  • LadyV May 19, 2016, 11:58 am

    My general rule is that if someone can’t be bothered to take the time to actually write a thank you note, then I’m not going to take the time to buy a gift. And that goes double if, like the OP, I’ve gone to a lot of trouble to make the gift personal.

  • Mizz Etiquette May 19, 2016, 12:59 pm

    It’s the couple’s lazy way out of writing a thank you note.

    It’s one of my pet peeves as well.

  • Wondering May 19, 2016, 6:39 pm

    I figure that they lost track of who gave which present, so they figured that they would play it safe and thank everyone for sharing their special day. And it’s possible that not all of the guests brought a present, so they’re not risking embarrassing anyone who didn’t by sending him a card that says, “Thank you for your lovely gift.”

  • Margaret May 19, 2016, 7:18 pm

    Sometimes I’d settle for that “receipt.” At least I would know s/he got the last gift I would ever give to them.

  • Julia May 19, 2016, 7:56 pm

    It seems pretty straightforward to me. If someone gives me something and I respond with a heartfelt, genuine thank you, either in person or e-mail or written note, then I’m honestly thanking them for something because I want to do so. I’m touched/pleased that they gave me this thing, and I want to show them I appreciate it. If someone gives me something and the best I can do is some generic thing to appease my conscience or fulfill a social obligation, then, seriously, I’m a jerk.

  • Cat May 19, 2016, 9:33 pm

    I have to admit I write bread and butter notes,thank you notes, and add personal notes and sign Christmas cards. Maybe I am just into ink.
    I like telling people how much I enjoy seeing them and being part of their family for a brief time. I get chatty over gifts and Christmas cards are a great way to say hi and this is what I have been doing.
    I have to admit I have received two personalized Christmas cards that took me aback. One came from my first cousin and had a note written inside, ” Mary had her baby and I love being a grandma! By the way, Granny died December 16th. Her funeral was very nice.” Ok. Fa,la.la, Granny’s dead.
    The other Christmas card read, ‘Since you are my “sister”, I am willing to see you.’ That’s nice, dear; it is lovely that you are willing to make such a great sacrifice for a “sister”.
    I was given up for adoption at birth and this was my half-sister whom I had seen only once. She told everyone that she does not like me and we don’t get along. I had never spoken to her. After two years of silence, I got that Christmas card. I still cannot quite believe it.

  • Kat May 20, 2016, 2:15 am

    I think I’m the only person on the Internet who doesn’t care if I get a thank you card. I am so happy to share in the couple’s joy, celebrate with them over a meal and dancing, and I want to bless them with a gift to help them on their way. My friendship with them is heartfelt and genuine and I’d be shocked at the formality of a thank you card. I didn’t lose any friends when I neglected to send mine out, and I’ve NEVER received a card from anyone else.

    Maybe everyone here is just more formal than I am, or any of my friends are.

  • Jai May 20, 2016, 3:31 am

    Both my 7 year old daughter and I have an ‘invisible’ disability that makes holding a pen extremely painful, so I admit that if we have more than a couple of thank yous to write, then I tend to do it on the computer, then print and send. However I do try and personalize each one, so it becomes more a typed-but-personal letter than a form. Even with my 7 year old, I type and print the main bulk of the letter, but leave gaps for her to fill in: Thank you for the …….. I ………. [love it / will wear it often / spent it on etc.] Not ideal but hopefully the people who know us (and therefore the people we are writing to!) understand and appreciate that we’ve made an effort at least.

    I’m not keen on the printed ‘thanks for the gift’ kind of thing, but having received nothing for the last four gifts I’ve sent, I’ll take whatever I get. At least they’ve bothered to send something even if it is half-hearted.

    • Reboot May 21, 2016, 11:29 pm

      I do this, for similar reasons. I can’t write for very long without literally dropping the pen, so I tend to type up personalised letters and get them printed out on nice paper, and my housemate is usually more than happy to personalise the envelopes with wax seals, too.

    • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 8:12 am

      I think printed notes are great so long as they are personalized.
      My aunt has fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis which makes writing by hand very painful for her.

      She types and prints all her thank you cards and holiday cards. But she always makes sure to personalize the messages. So they are just as dear as any handwritten note would be.

  • Mustard May 20, 2016, 4:17 am

    What would the OP make of the incident in the news here in the U.K. a few days ago? The happy couple sent a note to a gift-giver, not to thank her, but to complain that her gift wasn’t generous enough, and perhaps she would like to ‘adjust it’?


    • Cat May 20, 2016, 9:06 pm

      I believe I would have had to resist the temptation to send her an additional penny.

  • Molly J May 20, 2016, 5:42 am

    My cousin sent (handwritten) thank you notes that each went something like this:

    Dear …

    It was so nice to see you at our wedding! It meant so much to us that you came all that way to celebrate with us. Mom told me how much you enjoyed the candle ceremony for Grandma; it was important to me to honour her in some way.

    Unfortunately, a well-meaning friend put all the cards in the card box, including the ones that had been attached to gift boxes, so I will have to close by saying thank you for being part of my life growing up, and for crying happy tears with me as I married the love of my life. I hope we will grow in love as you and uncle have done.

    —> she agonized over how to acknowledge people without making anyone feel like they should have given a gift!

    • Lerah99 May 23, 2016, 8:15 am

      I think this was a very graceful and mature thank you while explaining why individual gifts were not being acknowledged. Well done by your cousin.

  • JWH May 20, 2016, 7:28 am

    My thank-you notes are always emailed. Partly because my friends, family and I typically communicate by email. And partly because if I write, “Thank you for the gravy boat,” it looks like “Plonk yo fra bralg cot.”

    • Cat May 21, 2016, 1:47 pm

      At least you can type. I write emails and have to proofread so I don’t address someone as “Deaf Sir” or sign off, “Kinkest retards”.

  • JWH May 20, 2016, 7:30 am

    Sorry to double-post, but does this remind anybody of the movie “Her?” The lead character in that movie has a job writing personalized love notes on behalf of clients.

  • Shoegal May 20, 2016, 8:15 am

    I have once received a thank you note quite promptly for a shower gift that didn’t have any personal handwriting at all. The address, signature, message . . . nothing all typed – preprinted – computerized everything. I know that every other guest got exactly what I did – that same card – it had some cutesy poem inside and it wasn’t appreciated. Thanks for nothing. No effort – no trouble – no thanks.

    I do realize that writing out thank you notes is difficult, time consuming – especially when there were 100 plus guests – but I do know that if you put a little care into – it is appreciated. I wrote – long, very carefully worded personal thank you notes for my wedding – it took me more than a week to write them (and already months overdue) and I wrote my heartfelt sentiments that were making me cry – more than one person commented to me about how lovely the card was.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 21, 2016, 2:40 pm

      It really doesn’t take that long. There were about 200 guests at our wedding plus we received gifts from many who weren’t able to make it. My husband and I each wrote about 10 notes a night and every thank you note was mailed within 3 weeks of the wedding.

  • Huh May 20, 2016, 8:34 am

    Honestly, for the weddings/baby showers/events I’ve been to, I really don’t remember if people gave me a thank you note or not. I know I’ve received some, but I don’t keep track of who sent me one or not. Preprinted or handwritten, your thank you note isn’t going to stick out in my memory.

    I know when my grandma died, the funeral home gave us thank you notes to send to people for flowers (or possibly for coming?) And I feel like I may have received a thank you note for sending flowers in the past, but I couldn’t tell you if it was every time or not.

    • klb4n6 May 22, 2016, 7:31 pm

      I remember those thank-you notes after my father died. My mom had my brothers and I come over about two weeks later and write thank you notes to everyone that sent flowers or donations in his name to a particular charity. I remember struggling to find what to write, and my older brother was particularly perturbed about writing them and “reliving the worst day of my life.” I honestly don’t remember ever getting thank you notes for flowers or anything after a funeral before nor would I expect one.

      As for whether or not I remember getting a thank you note – 99% of the time I don’t remember nor do I care. The 1% exception was the time I went to a baby shower and the organizers had all the attendees write our names and addresses on envelopes for “a door prize” (yeah right) and I never got a thank you note. I’m certain the address was right. 😐

      • Huh May 23, 2016, 8:59 am

        I always think those write your name/address “game” at showers is silly. You sent me an invitation, you have my address! I guess it’s more to save them that extra step. And before people bemoan that, I’ve recently had to do legal paperwork with a couple of different agencies, and each time when it came down to the final step – I had to fill out an envelope with my name and address on it!

        • Thank You OP May 26, 2016, 4:37 pm

          I used to think that, then realized that the bride didn’t host the party. Addresses were most likely procured from the address books of the MOB and MOG.

          The few times that I have been a bridesmaid, I bought a good sized, refillable address book and asked all of the attendees to write their addresses so that the bride would have all of the information in one place.

  • barb May 20, 2016, 9:18 am

    I got one of those preprinted ones for a wedding gift ( I sent a gift of about $500 value) about 10 years ago. My jaw dropped. It actually used the word “token” as in, “TY for the token of your esteem… blah blah blah). ”

    Now I am dealing with GKs from 3 different families. At the very least I like to know if the gift got there. That is like pulling teeth at times. I don’t care if they write a TY note, call, email, or whatever. Just let me know. One sent a video of the kid opening the gift, that was great!!!

  • stacey May 20, 2016, 10:09 am

    I have received these and it is a little kinder than a complete failure to acknowledge the effort put into a gift, but only just! I can recall how delightful it has been whenever I’ve gone to the mailbox and found a sweet, handwritten note of thanks inside referencing a recent gift. It helps tremendously to cement the bonds of civil and considerate relationships (and it inclines me to want to repeat the gift giving- after all, they were so delighted the first time, what might they like on this next occasion?). A phone call, email or verbal thanks are also preferable to a generic card. OP’s reference to Christmas cards makes me reflect that most of us feel similarly- perhaps a few handwritten greetings, letters or phone calls are better than a mass sending out of generic cards? Since businesses have also adopted the practice of sending cards for holidays and birthdays, the generic cards seem more like advertising than a personal greeting (though many are quite pretty).

  • Dawn May 20, 2016, 10:33 am

    I taught my kids to write thank yous, and they do fairly well (not always).

    For a wedding gift, I wouldn’t mind a postcard sort of thing with a picture on front as long as the back had a handwritten note: thank you for X (money, gift, IOU). We can really use X for Y. Love/sincerely/yours…MM.

  • Angela May 20, 2016, 11:09 am

    I come from a country where thank you notes are not customary, and I often do not understand the hullabaloo about them. Where I am from, you often thank someone in person, via a telephone call or via an email/whatsapp/facebook message etc. depending on the circumstance and your relationship with the person.

    I have seen stories where people get very miffed over not receiving thank you notes, or one that isn’t personalized to their liking. I have even seen stories about people getting miffed because they didn’t get a thank you card for an actual card that they sent. (And, had the person sent them a thank you note for the card, would they have then sent a thank you note, for the thank you note? lol)

    I am not in anyway trying to knock anyone’s culture, I am just trying to understand the point of the thank you note in certain situations. For example, when I attend a bridal shower, the bride usually opens the gifts there and then and turns to the recipient and gives them an in-person, verbal thank you. That is the end of it. And, as the bride-to-be mingles, she usually sees the same people, thanks them for the surprise/for coming/their gift. It is a similar situation for kids parties.

    If someone says thank you, in person, is that not appropriate and is a thank you note still expected?

    • keloe May 21, 2016, 5:22 pm

      I’m in the same spot. Thank you notes are not at all customary where I live (nor are bridal or baby showers, for that matter). I’m afraid I would make all sorts of etiquette blunders if I ever moved to the US. I mean, I would sincerely try my hardest, but these things are not as easy to figure out perfectly right as people might think.

      • Yet Another Laura May 24, 2016, 2:28 pm

        I’m with you and I do live in the US. I’ve always thanked people in person, even for graduations. The few times a giftee wasn’t able to thank me in person, I got a thank you card.

        It seems that unless the thank you is a time-consuming chore, it isn’t good enough. Is this a hold-over from previous eras in which leisure-class women were were expected to be their family’s social secretary and most careers were closed to them? When there’s not much else to do, writing thank you notes can be a means of avoiding boredom.

  • EchoGirl May 20, 2016, 11:29 am

    I know this is unpopular, but I don’t think that the difference between typed and handwritten actually matters. I think the key is in personalization as opposed to “form letter” cards.

  • Startruck May 20, 2016, 1:33 pm

    I guess I’m alone in this one but this doesn’t bother me. With everything being so digital now I’m always impressed someone actually mailed them at all. Usually it’s a Facebook post or whatnot giving a mass thank you to everyone ! Lol

  • Gena May 20, 2016, 1:54 pm

    How about being asked to address your own envelope for the TY note at the wedding shower? In order to help out the “busy” bride. (also, so she doesn’t have to “hunt up” addresses) Um – I had to take time to drive to the store, figure out the registry, find your gift, pay for it, drive home, wrap it, then take more time to attend your shower, and you are “too busy” to address envelopes? Not to mention, you managed to find my address to send me this invite, surely you can find it again for the note.

    In bride’s defense, I do think this was someone else’s idea and not hers.

    • Queen of Putrescence May 21, 2016, 2:41 pm

      I absolutely hate when that is done.

    • Kolobok May 22, 2016, 5:05 pm

      I have a question about this practice: I know that the ladies at my church want to throw me a shower. Problem is, I don’t know half their names, let alone addresses. How should I tactfully go about getting addresses to send thank yous?

      • Vicki May 23, 2016, 6:52 am

        Buy an address book, and at the shower, tell everyone that you’re grateful, but since you always see them at church, you don’t have people’s addresses, so could they please write them down for you.

        This avoids the “she made us address our own cards” problem, because you (or your partner or other helpful friend) will be doing that, as you would for someone whose address you’ve had for years.

        • Kolobok May 24, 2016, 6:01 pm

          Thank you, Vicki. I will do just that!

  • lou May 20, 2016, 5:07 pm

    Pfffft. Last wedding I went to, our ‘thank-you notes’ were pre-printed on the back of the namecards on the dinner tables. Honestly. Little fold-out notes, ‘Bride and Groom thank you so much for attending our special day blah blah blah’. Suppose it saves on postage as well as time and effort post-wedding. Plus I’m still waiting for thank-yous for two other wedding presents, two years on. So I actually wouldn’t turn my nose up at what the OP describes – sadly my generation seems to have dropped the ball in this area!

  • Violet May 20, 2016, 8:15 pm

    I’ll admit to bad memory, so what I’ll do is start the TY cards as I get RSVPs. As in, I adress the envelopes, maybe start the card, amd if presents are opened while guests are present (ha), I like to snap a quick pic with the giver, in case my list is incomplete. Then I know exactly who gave what, and I have recent pics of friends. (My mom and I watch crime shows, so we always get group shots in case something goes wrong on the way home ) Plus everyone is taking pics anyway, at least mine have a purpose.

  • kingsrings May 21, 2016, 11:00 pm

    Very few people I know even send thank you notes anymore. They think there’s nothing at all wrong with that and excuse it by saying they’re too busy and overwhelmed after the event to send thank yous. They say that their verbal greetings and thank yous at the event are enough, and that guests have a lot of nerve expecting another thank you after that! And these people are otherwise perfectly polite and wonderful people, so that’s even more bewildering.

  • Michelleprieur May 22, 2016, 12:05 pm

    I’d be more than happy at this point with someone not expecting a gift and saying thank you for it. I’d turn cartwheels if I got a thank you card in any way. Yes, we shouldn’t expect less rude just because it’s not as bad as it could be. But I don’t expect any better anymore.

  • AthenaC May 22, 2016, 6:05 pm

    I think that sounds adorable, with the caveats that:

    1) kids of all ages should sign their names. Yes, this included handing your 1-year-old a crayon for an obligatory scribble.
    2) kids who can actually write should also say something like “I have been having so much fun with the legos you gave me!” or “I’m so glad you could come!” or “Thank you for helping me wipe up the juice that I spilled.” Whatever – some sort of original content.
    3) Kids above, say, 5th grade or so should write an actual thank-you note in addition to the pre-printed material, but it can be slightly shorter than it would be because the finesse of a pre-printed card adds to the entire finished product.

    This is the part where I admit that I had a horrible experience writing thank-you notes as a kid because nothing I ever wrote was good enough for my mother’s exacting standards. Even in second grade, a simple round of birthday thank-you’s would take literally all day by the time I was done rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. So maybe that’s just me, but I’m certainly open to using a pre-printed card for a little help. I understand that’s not what is happening in the OP’s letter, but that’s what those cards should be used for.

  • klb4n6 May 22, 2016, 7:41 pm

    A cousin of mine sent a card with a picture of her 1 year old daughter with a poem thanking us for her gift and attendance – I actually thought it was really cute and still have it on my fridge, but I guess I won’t do the same for my son’s 1st birthday this summer. Whoops.

    I do have a thank-you note dilemma – when we were writing thank you notes for our baby shower, I split the notes up with my husband – I wrote them for my friends and family, he did the ones for his friends and family. I ended up having the baby three weeks early and several of the cards hadn’t been written – we had decided that we would mail them all at once (hubby’s idea, he thought if we sent them as we wrote them somehow some family member would find out someone else had gotten one and they hadn’t yet and I don’t know, his family is weird). Anyway, during the chaos of having him early and then bringing him home, the thank you notes were misplaced. Most of mine were sent by the time my son was 4 months old (around Christmas), though several were mailed with our Christmas card/birth announcements. We even wrote a note on some of them (the envelopes were sealed) about misplacing them, since half of the cards said things like “I’m sure we’ll get good use out of it!” when the items were things we would have used early on. Anyway, all of my family and friends were thanked. A couple of weeks ago I found a bag with probably 7 or 8 of the thank you notes to my husband’s family and friends, unsent!!!! And a couple he hadn’t written yet. Is it too late to mail them? Our son just turned 9 months old! I’m certain that his family probably thinks we’re terrible gimme-pigs. 🙁 This is on top of the delay with his baptism gifts – the baptism happened six weeks ago and I wrote down every gift and unpacked them all from the gift bags and put all the cards together, then promptly lost my notebook and thank you cards for a solid month. I’m sending them out this week, his baptism was April 3rd.

  • Vicki May 23, 2016, 6:56 am

    I don’t care whether notes are handwritten–handwritten notes are nice, but I know people who find using a pen literally painful, and if I like someone enough to get them a gift, I like them enough not to want to make them suffer. But a paper note–or email, or phone call–that says something like “Dear Vicki, thanks so much for the blue teapot, it’s just right for lazy afternoons. Love, Eustace” is very different from a note, in any format, of the “Dear ___, Thank you for the gift. [signed]” sort.