Wednesday, October 17, 2012

From The Bottom of My Heart...Maybe


This may come as a shock to you, but I hate “Thank You” cards! Do I think people need to be thanked and appreciated for their time, kindness, thoughtfulness, and gift’s?  Absolutely! And sending someone a very personal thank you note is a lot different than sending out generic “Thank You” cards en masse after an event. I have several important points to make regarding my opinion on this topic, so let me break it down for you bullet point style.

1.   The main events that “require” thank you notes to be sent are mostly bridal/baby showers, graduation parties, and weddings. These are all life transitioning events. High school graduates are preparing for college, saying goodbye to friends, and preparing for life as an adult. College graduates are starting new jobs, possibly moving to a new location, and preparing for life as a self sustaining adult with new responsibilities. Engaged couples are preparing for the new roles of Husband and Wife along with everything that entails: new family members, new rules, new home, new holiday traditions, etc.  Expectant mothers are preparing for a whole new addition in their life that will change almost everything in their current lifestyle. Expecting people who are in the midst of major life changes to find the time, energy, and money to write mass amounts of “Thank You” cards is completely unreasonable.
    
        2.   “Thank You” cards written en masse are impersonal, and generic. “Dear So and So, Thank you so much for your gift (usually pre-picked on a registry). I will surely enjoy it in the future. Sincerely, Me." My husband once told me that he literally wrote the exact same thing on every single “Thank You” card he sent out from his high school graduation party. Having received many of these types of handwritten generic “Thank You” cards myself, I know he is not the only one. I open them, roll my eyes, and then throw them out. If I really want to know if someone likes a gift that I have given them then I will ask them. Having a personal conversation allows the recipient of the gift to really tell you how appreciative they are, and maybe even what they have done with your gift.

        3.  Weddings are generally a major event in a couple’s life. Most weddings take many months of meticulous planning, scheduling, budgeting, and coordinating every little detail right down to the salt and pepper shakers on each table. Receiving an invite to a wedding is an honor, and to thank the happy couple for the invite, you give them a wedding gift. That’s right! Your wedding gift to the Bride and Groom is a “Thank You” for spending their time, and money on the guests. Most couples and their families have provided each guest with a free evening out that usually includes a nice meal, alcoholic beverages, dessert, dancing, and entertainment. There is usually even a token “favor/gift” at each place setting thanking each guest for attending.  So, you bring a wedding gift to thank the Bride and Groom for inviting you to their very special event, but then the guests expect a “Thank You” card from the Bride and Groom for their “Thank You” gift for being invited? 
      
      To sum this up, never give a gift expecting a thank you card. Gifts should be given for the pleasure of giving. However, thanking someone for their generosity and/or gift should always be done, and it should be done in a timely, thoughtful, and personal manner.
       
I would like my readers to tell me what your opinion is on this topic. Leave me a comment below and tell me if you agree with sending “Thank You” cards or not. How did you thank guests who attended a major event/party in your life? Do you have any idea's or suggestions for a great way to make saying "Thank You" more thoughtful and personal?

12 comments:

  1. I absolutely agree with this article! I got married with an awesome marine 1 month ago, our wedding was perfect and magical thanks to friends, family etc. But what most people don't know is what my husband and I have been through since we decided to get married and even now. we are moving out (Again) We don't have time for "thank you" cards , we are so busy packing, and thinking what are we going to do next... "Thank you" cards...maybe.

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    1. Being the wife of a Marine (or anyone in the military) is probably one of the hardest jobs a woman can do. You and your husband deserve a great big "Thank You" for all your hard work and sacrifices for our country! If you can't find the time to send out "Thank You" cards, I truly hope people will understand!

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  2. I agree with you whole-heartedly on the subject of requiring people who are going through those life changes to write a thank you card. As you know, it took us almost a year to send out all our required thank you's and we received a *lot* of slack for it; never mind the fact that we were raising a child, working and going to school full time, and going through some other personal issues on top of all that. I had many comments, mostly from family, that they were absolutely appalled that we took so long (even from people who were never married and were never forced to write that many notes at once). I started at least three family feuds with my wedding.

    I can't say that every thank you note is impersonal as we really did try to make them as specific and personal as possible in the three inches of space we were provided. That being said, we also just received one from a recent wedding that didn't even bother to mention our gift or the small personal gift we included (specifically for the purpose of getting a response). Instead, it was a completely generic "your gift" as if she didn't even bother noting who gave what, no mention of a hedgehog whatsoever. I understand how busy it is but honestly, I would have rather not gotten a card at all.

    All that being said, I'm still going to make my daughter write them if nothing else than to teach her to be grateful first.

    Finally, will you please discuss your feelings of giving gifts at weddings? :-) You could even throw something in there about RSVPs.

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    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I agree 100% that I would rather not receive a card then get a generic one...those are the ones that merit an "eye roll" and get thrown away! And I also believe in teaching our children respect and gratitude, just be sure to teach your daughter that generic "Thank You's" are not showing gratitude! ;)

      P.S. The art of giving gifts is on my list of future topics for sure!

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  3. The only thing more tacky than receiving an eye-roll worthy "thank you" card is having to fill out the envelope yourself beforehand and then seeing your own handwriting on the envelope when you go out to check the mail. Ugh, I hate that. I'm curious to know that the standard acceptable time-table is for getting one's thank yous out. I do think the cards are necessary, but that the writer should have ample time (as in, 6 months) to write them if the event is a wedding or baby shower.

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  4. 6 to 8 weeks is the traditional/standard etiquette procedure for timely "Thank You" cards after a wedding. However, I do have a question for you. If you are at a bridal/baby shower and you bought a gift off the gift registry, watch the guest of honor open that gift, and she then thanks you in person for the gift, don't you think it's redundant to still have to send out a "Thank You" card? I am really interested in your opinion on this one.

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    1. I think part of the reason this is such a "gray area" is because registries are relatively new - I think we're still working out a proper response. Miss Manners is actually opposed to registries, despite their convenience.

      I default to the traditional etiquette: if you get a gift, send a thank you.

      I don't think it is enough to simply say "thank you" while you're holding the gift up and showing everyone because you can only come across as so sincere when you're saying the same thing to everyone, in front of everyone else. If you were to pull aside that person after the party and re-iterate a more sincere, personalized thank you privately, that could get you out of a thank you note, I might argue. In terms of writing a thank you for a gift from a registry, I think it should look less like: "OMG, it's exactly what I wanted," and more like: "It was great to see you, and thank you for your generosity."

      I agree with Anonymous/MOM that writing thank you notes is incredibly easy and not time consuming. I was able to get thank yous out after Abigail was born despite all the hell we were living through. Just pop in a chick flick (or 2 for weddings) and start writing. Ironically, I actually think it's rude to ask someone if they liked your gift, as it sounds like the giver is fishing for compliments.

      All that being said, I am certainly no model for perfect thank you noting. Should I send thank yous for Christmas presents? I mean, I give you a gift, you give me a gift...not sure how to deal with that.

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    2. Of all the big events/parties I will say that I have received the most "Thank You" cards from showers. However, when it comes to thank you cards from showers, I can honestly only think of 1 that I have received that was personalized, all the rest have been very "cookie cutter" generic. From weddings I've attended, I will estimate 80% sent out thank you cards, and of that MAYBE 50% personalized their note. As for graduation parties (both high school and college) I have received thank you cards from less than 10%, and considering we attend on average 3 graduation parties a year that's a huge percentage of people who do not send out thank you's. However, the few thank you cards I have received from graduation parties have been personalized. As I do think it is important to thank people, I did sit down with my daughter after her graduation party and made sure she personalized every card. If people do not have the time or inclination to write personalized notes, I would prefer they just don't send them at all.

      As for asking someone how they like a gift I gave them...I do ask quite often, and it's not because I am desperate for a compliment, it's because I really want to know if they like it. I also have people ask me if I like their gift just as often, so since it is a common practice of the people in my life, it has never occurred to me not to ask. When my sister got married last year in a very small, very quick, ceremony, I designed a special gift for her and her husband and had it sent directly to their home in Colorado. I think I called and/or texted her every hour on the day the gift was delivered so I could find out if she liked it. If she was someone who does not send out thank you cards, how else would I know if she liked it?

      I'm not trying to discourage anyone from writing thank you notes, just from writing generic ones. Someone once told me that instead of sending out thank you cards after their wedding they waited until they got their wedding pictures back and had a party at their house, and projected a display of the wedding pictures on a wall for everyone to see. This gave them an opportunity to see all their friends and family after the wedding and thank them in person for gifts, and even have some on display in their home for everyone to see. I thought that was a very clever idea!

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  5. WOW!!! Am I the only one from a lost generation that feels strongly about "Thank You" notes ? I just received a beautiful book from a friend just before I left California, of course I hugged her and thanked her for her thoughtfulness. I then arrived to my destination, Colorado and within a few days I "Promptly" sent out a hand written thank note telling her how much her thoughtful gift meant to me. And yes, I use this book of affirmations daily.
    I understand about day to day life, moving for me was very stressful and yet I made the time to write. Sometimes the process of writing these notes can be overwhelming, but when you decide after a long day to finally sit down in front of that mind sucking machine, your BOOB TUBE, write one card, then the next night another card. Doing something mindless like watching TV you can get this meaningful task finished before you know it.
    FYI .. I still get calls from people thanking me for the thank you note. Yes, they are well received, especially when they aren't generic but nicely written notes. A special note doesn't take that much time. I can be done, as a matter of fact ... It has been done ... for many years and many generations. This is a part of life that has a lot of meaning and should not be lost ... stop playing words with friends, world of warcraft, Wii, etc.

    MOM

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    1. I 100% agree with you! A simple, heartfelt, and personal thank you note is almost always fully appreciated by the recipient. The point of this article is that those types of thank you notes are VERY few and far between!

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    2. I should clarify that I 100% agree with the fact that heartfelt, and personal thank you notes are a great and much needed thing. However, I also know that in today's culture people have a lot more demands on their time than in the past...and I'm not referring to those who sit and play games or watch TV. I, personally, am not offended if I don't receive a thank you card, because, like I wrote above, if I really want to know how someone liked my gift then I will ask them.

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  6. Thank you cards are OVER RATED!!!

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