Death of the Thank You Note

It’s the middle of January and there is a message I'm receiving loud and clear. That message - "being the recipient of notes saying thanks for our holiday gift-giving are now null and void, lost in the mail shall we say? " 

I tell myself to get over it; it's a new era, but I refuse to listen. I must however set this record straight, I did receive 2 thank you's (1 for Facebook & 1 for texting) so all is not lost and I'm the one to be thankful for those.
Today I'm at the edge of declaring a truce with those inner frustrations and calling a halt to any gift -giving that goes without a mere ‘thanks’. Although not as heinous, leaving out a thank you rates up there with not sending a sympathy card because you ‘didn’t know what to say?'  Google dear friends GoOgLe

My real sadness lies in the declining health, if not demise, of said thank you note.  The good old-fashioned, pen to paper, cursive letters with their loops and flow; f’s and g’s from you to me and so on. A thank you is a written representation of a person taking time out of their day to put thoughts onto paper expressing their gratitude. It is knowing that the composer had to slow-down long enough to think about your generosity, large or small, and articulate appreciation.

A thank you does not have to be written on card stock that is printed with a bold ‘thank you’. It can come in the form of a personal letter, or a note card. I’ll even be so bold to say that I appreciate a ‘thanks’ via a phone call, email, Facebook message, or I’ll push the limits here, a tweet.

Don’t say that I can’t embrace technology or changing times. I am quite proud that I have, but there are time-honored traditions that are worthy of preserving. Going forward if we are to raise generations that are not completely immersed in their own selfishness, often called the ‘me generation’, this is just one step to remind our children that ‘things’ are not owed to us, but earned

Do you recall from childhood the ropes of composing a friendly letter and its format? Block, semi-block, indented, to memorandum style. Don’t forget the date, salutation, body and closing; and will you being adding a ‘post script’?
notes 1-4 Fabulous Stationery

 Can you remember the rules of envelope etiquette? If our schools are not teaching the fine art of writing a letter, are we as parents passing along this important tool?

Dark words on white paper bare the soul - Maupassant


I would love reading your thoughts on this subject. In giving a gift, is it wrong to expect a thank you, verbal or written? Is someone like myself missing the point of giving?

 With this New Year it's time I stop complaining and move on. Makes changes or quite the negative thoughts.  New Year, New Me!
  {go forth and live responsibly}
etiquette forever


Renae Moore said...

Oh goody, I get to be first. This post rings so true with me. I am an old fashioned sort of gal who is neurotic about writing notes and in a very timely manner, say within a day or two of receiving a gift. I even wrote my kids thank you's for my Christmas gifts and mailed with a stamp! To me it is only one thing plain and simple - MANNERS people MANNERS. Most have none.
I like to send notes just to say 'hey' or out of the blue send a friend a card. Parents need to teach their kids, but these days the parents themselves have no manners.
Great post sweet friend!

Notes From ABroad said...

I have always sent Thank you notes and I always remember Those Who Do Not.
As Renae Moore said .. Manners, people, Manners!

Renée Finberg said...

without a doubt
it is for the few holding on tightly to their breeding.
the note cards are lovely...
i am guilty of being too horribly busy and overwhelmed most of the time.
i do have ooodles of thank you cards in a drawer,
it is time to get them out and use them up.
i think i will send them all out.
to anyone i like.
i can just say something like;
'just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for being you'

do you think that will cover me for a while???

please say 'yes!!!'


Dumbwit Tellher said...

Renee Finberg I do believe in that case you'd be good for a long while. So that is a big 'yes'.

@ a Broad & Renae; manners people is spot on! Thank you x

goodniteirene.wordpress.com said...

eleven handwritten thank you notes...all sent BEFORE new year's eve!!!
can i have a "woo to the hoo"?
facebook and blackberry can kiss my mannerly, emily post'ed ass!!!

{i think this comment just negated all my thank you note propriety}

kisses for you!! kisses for me too!!


Anonymous said...

Debbie - I so can appreciate your "rant". I spent many, many years asking my daughters (well, more like forcing, some years) to write thank you notes. A couple of years ago Abby's future mother-in-law sent me an email (after Abby had written her a thank-you) letting me know how thoughtful she thought it was! I was never so pleased! And, just a couple of weeks ago when Hillary was home, out of the blue, she asked, "mom, do you have any notecards I can use for Christmas thank-you notes"! Yay!!! - all that prodding paid off!! Now, don't get me wrong, there are many (many!) other things I'm still waiting to come to fruition! :P Kim

The Townhouselady said...

My mother ingrained it in me and I ALWAYS send a thank you. I even send them when we've had dinner at a friends or when someone has done something thoughtful for me.

It's very sad that there are so few that do this anymore.

..and don't even get me started on the holiday cards. I sent out 40+ this year and got back 6. SIX!!! It should be noted that 3 of those came longer after I know that they received my card and were probably sent only because they were under obligation.

Sorry for the separate but sort of connected rant regarding written correspondence.

All the best and thank you for posting this.

- The Townhouselady

P.S. I'm back to blogging again.

Splendid Sass said...

Let me first say Thank You for posting this. You are SO on the money!
If someone spends the time to do something nice for you or think enough of you to choose special gift for you, you better thank them! It is just TACKY not to.
I agree that the "thank you" doesn't need to be formal, but you better thank me or you will not get another gift.
I have taught my children how horrible it is not to thank those that gift, and I taught them how to write notes. You just have to teach them. It is your job as a parent.
Ok, ok, enough from me. Just Do It!

Anastasia Schembri said...

Bravo my friend!!! Very well said and desperately needed I am afraid! You are definitely not missing the point, funny we who take the time to express our appreciation are the ones who feel guilty when that expression is not reciprocated by others.
In these days, when we all deem ourselves way too busy, I always stress to my students the importance of the actual 'thank you' in any form, be it phone call, phone message, text, email, etc.
But oh how lovely it is to receive a little envelope in the post expressing geniune appreciation for a gift or kind gesture! I have never come across anyone receiving such a note that didn't let at least a little smile creep across their face! It is for those few smiles that we should continue sending out these little notes (or emails, texts...) in the hope that this dying art is revived once again!

Pinecone said...

I had to laugh when I read this, as we just wrote ours out today. We even handstamped the outside of the card with stamps we made ourselves...but didn't write out the actual 'thank you' until now. I make sure the kids and I get them out within a month. I don't know, maybe that is too long? I figure, as long as we thank people properly - with a card we are doing all right.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I always write my thank you notes the week between Christmas and New Years. It's a fun ritual for me - a part of the holiday celebration. I'm fortunate in my friends, for most of them still take the time to do the same. You're so right, etiquette a small thing that makes the world nicer. Don't give up completely!


I would completely understand if all I got was a photo-text of the cute little outfit, on my new little niece...but, instead I still have to call-text-email+ tracking... just to confirm that my sweet little, heart felt, time included love package, actually got there.

Oh, dear....


Simply Mel {Reverie} said...

Oh Deb ~

Well this is one of my ultimate 'causes' in life ~ to get people to actually write with a pen on paper again! It is a dying art, and it cannot disappear!

Like Katie (whom I absolutely adore) wrote, I had my 26 thank you notes in the mail by NYE. And why so many? Because I write the crumb's thank you's too (she is only almost 3!). I love to write notes, and even if the note isn't a thank you, I still like to set aside an hour a week to write a special note to friends or family who I feel just need to hear a hello in a different way.

I've already started introducing the importance of thank you notes to the crumb, and I will be one of those mothers who make her write them! Let's just hope she eventually appreciates it as much as I do.

Happy New Year to you!


Mise said...

Absolutely, thank yous are ever so important, and whenever I get an oldfashioned one in handwriting on paper it absolutely delights me. An email, I think, is a lot more acceptable than it was, and a text is barely admissible. Don't drop your standards, Deb: the wide world is wrong, not you.

(Thank you for reading this comment.)

Marnie said...

I love writing and receiving thank you notes - so does my daughter. I must confess, that sometimes my notes are a little later than they should be. I always aim to get the Christmas notes out before January 1st. It is a shame that so many people have lost the art of letter writing - I am a little too judgemental if I do not receive a thank you - I should simply get over it and not expect it - then I will be pleasantly surprised when I receive a lovely hand written note in the post. I still remember a beautiful wedding, over the top in a very beautiful sense, wedding planner etc and no thank you note. I guess the wedding planner was not hired to write the notes!

Nancy Wick said...

Great discovery of an App that let's you create Thank You notes with great style & easy personalization!
Found at the Apple App Store and it is called RedStamp

You can create a beautiful note in seconds on your ipad, itouch, or ipad. Red Stamp let's you email it, or will even send it on a postcard for you!

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

Seriously, I was just thinking about this last night. I miss getting letters and notes in the mail! I had my kids sit down the day after Christmas to write out their thank you notes, and you know the best part about it? It made us stop and think about all the people who had been so thoughtful with their gifts, without this 'exercise' do we take a moment and reflect on this?

Great post...and btw, I am rethinking your piece for the e-zine now. Let's talk! Janell

Notes From ABroad said...

I really appreciate Nancy Wicks recommendation of the RedStamp app ! Living in South America with friends and family all over the world, letters and notes tend to take a terribly long time to arrive or never do. Including that book someone sent to me :(
So a more personal electronic Thank you/Thinking of you note would be great !
besos, C

La Maison Fou said...

Same here;
my kiddos wrote a bunch after the holidays, now BD is behind us and there are more for them to write!
It is unfortunately, a lost and vanishing act!


Jg. for FatScribe said...

Hmmm. Good question, Deb (as always) Q: Do we expect a Thank You note? No, not any longer. 2nd Q: Do our good friends and well-mannered (nod to GoodNightIrene and her lovely Emily Post'ed backside) acquaintance send them? That's a big 10-4 good buddy.

Though, sometimes, a Thank You note can show up at the bottom of a recent blog post and it makes you feel great that someone took the time to express their appreciation and adoration. Like now! ;)

Anonymous said...


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Can I use some of the information from your post right above if I provide a backlink back to this website?


hello gorgeous said...

Isn't it funny? I have really been giving myself a hard time this year for EXPECTING thank yous of any kind: phone, email, FB, text. There are some people who will just never do it. I am TRYING to not care, but it can be difficult. I don't expect as much from the kids, but some kind of acknowledgment is nice.

Although I will admit that getting my own children to write, call or even email can be unbelievably difficult. My mom doesn't consider it a thank you without a proper note which I don't think is reasonable these days.

So, thank you!! (handwritten in calligraphy!) Nancy Wick for the info on that iPhone app. I will forward it to my kids. ;-)

French Basketeer.com said...

I'm reading this just after sitting down with my mom to thank her girlfriends for her birthday gifts. It's a bit of a chore sometimes, but oh how I love to get a thank you note! I try to buy pretty thank you cards when I see them; there are so many cute and clever ones out there, I hope that means they are still in demand!

Christy said...

Well I didn't read the 23 responses ahead of mine - because I didn't want to be swayed by the masses. I honestly don't think it's 'right' to expect a thank you for gifts given. I do, however, think it's LOVELY to receive thank yous - whether they be handwritten in the mail, an email, a text, a phone call, a facebook message (I don't tweet, or that would be fine with me too). I don't know - I suppose handwritten ones used to be my preferred method, but honestly I don't have time or energy right now!
Hope you're having a good week. I'm in the middle of a yucky dental crises. Ick!

SpryOnTheWall said...

Hear, hear! I always write thank you notes for gifts, interviews, etc. It's just what I was taught to do (and will teach my daughter to do - when she can write - lol!) It's awfully important to take that time to do it, after all the person took the time and effort to buy you a gift. I don't think it's unreasonable at all these days.

Nutbird said...

Most people have no manners these days. If someone takes the time to shop for a present , wrap it, and give it to you, you should thank them with a note. Possible exceptions: immediate family members that hand you your gift on Christmas morning. Inlaws should always be thanked with a note. Generically printed thank you notes are not really proper, but are better than nothing.
I think thank yous have gone the way of RSVP's and handwritten sympathy notes. It is a shame. We have become a nation of slobs. Ann

hello gorgeous said...

P.S. I meant to add that according to etiquette, you're not supposed to give a gift expecting a thanks. But my feelings are still the same. Can't help it.

Alicia B. Designs said...

I'm 27 and still write thank you notes. it's rude not to! I LOVE LOVE LOVE writing them and usually every Christmas or birthday I receive some stationary to keep me well supplied. I don't think that they're dead...people are getting lazy maybe. My sisters and I have an unspoken contest to see who can write theirs faster on Christmas Day. we're neurotic like that :)
Alicia B.

quintessence said...

Well if you read my post a while back about stationery, you know where I stand! I remember well my mother nagging us to death to write our Christmas thank you's and now of course I do the same. Our rule is that if you received the gift in person and seemed properly appreciative (with a hug if appropriate) then a written thank you is not necessary. For any gift received in the mail or not opened in the presence of the giver, a note is MANDATORY!!

BonBon Rose Girls Kristin said...

I still love to send them, although I'm shamefully late with my Christmas thank yous, and I still love to receive them!

Jules said...

It's all been said and I agree with all but can I add another gripe along a similar line? Why do people no longer RSVP to invitations?!!!!!!!

C.J. said...

Marsha! Hello. you are so right on with this one. I feel like not giving gifts if the recipient can't even take the time to thank me for many things. The shopping, the thinking of a perfect gift, the time, etc. and to not even get a thank you note??? Bad taste, bad bad. Thanks for posting about this. Ps, how are you girl?

Barbara said...

Well, it was drilled into me...but I'm a different generation. I also drilled it into my daughter, who IS in your generation! She even writes ME thank you notes.
She cries over the loss of real mail, love letters and phone calls. Her secretary says: I'll email. And she says to her: NO. Pick up the phone and talk to them in person. I trained her well. :)
Now my boys? Not so great at notes. :(

DolceDreams said...

I am behind you 150% !!! If I don't get some kind of recognition of a gift, no more gifts for that person. I find it incredibly rude. My sons have sat and composed Thank yous since they could hold a crayon.

Love the ones you've shown here!

xo Nathalie

La Petite Gallery said...

Well said, we need more post like this.


diane@onlinefabricstore said...

Great post...I wish everyone could read this. I am always upset and offended when I dont get a thank you note especially since I always send one myself. Also love the cards and papers you showed.

North of 25A said...

Thank you for a thoughtful reminder of what is important - gratitude.

Unknown said...

Bravo!!! You hit the nail on the head! I love writing and receiving thank you notes. Actually putting pen to paper... taking your time to compose a loving and respectful message to someone for doing something special is a joy. I enjoy email and texting, but receiving handwritten thoughts on paper is truly a little gift in itself.

My best friend Kathy has two sons in their late 20's. She has instilled in them the importance of handwriting and sending thank yous out promptly. I always, think of her in a special way when I receive a card or note from her boys.

Being grateful and expressing it is too fast becoming a lost art.... lets all agree to change that!

Cheers & thanks for speaking up on this issue.


The Devoted Classicist said...

Although I am not as prompt as I would like, I do really try to send a handwritten note for an invitation as well as for a gift. The Thank You Note might be one of the last vestiges of civilization in modern culture, but it must be preserved.

Marsi @ The Cottage Cheese said...

I must admit, I'm terrible with thank you notes - something I'm working on. I do include one with each Etsy item that I ship, and I send texts, e-mails, and make phone calls. But you are so correct - nothing makes one feel quite as good as finding a sweet thank you note in the mailbox. It absolutely makes my day when I receive a sweet note - especially from my customers. I hadn't made a New Year's resolution, but I do believe that this will be it: taking pen to paper and writing actual letters! Thanks for the reminder Deb.

I hope that you are having a fabulous time in life. XO, Marsi

Tricia said...

Great post Deb! Like most of your commenters, I am a big propronent of the written thank you note. While I am guilty of a text message or verbal thank you over the phone, I still write thank you notes (as does my almost 7 yr old daughter) to those whom we aren't particularly close to. A handful of written notes went out just after Christmas but now you have me second guessing whether we sent enough or not. :)
Thanks for getting this old noggin to think about something other than moving furniture or stripping down tables.
Enjoy your weekend.

Unknown said...

This post rang so true for me...and by reading the comments with so others, as well.

This is a big one to me. It just doens't take that much time. I think it's a mind set.

And, admittedly, I think having beautiful monogrammed stationery has helped me to excited to sit down and put pen to paper.

So, hear hear for the mannerly crowd. I really appreciate those handwritten notes!!!

Have a marvelous weekend!
~ Elizabeth

Decor To Adore said...

My children are allowed to enjoy their gifts on Christmas day but after that they are off limits until the note is written.

I am a bit late this year. But I have bought the pretty cards, and it is now on the top of my weekend to do list.

Question~ Do I have to thank my MIL for her annual gift of post it notes? Yes, that is it. :)

mosaicology said...

I think I need a crash course on the notes custom in the USA. :)

Acanthus and Acorn said...

YES and well said! My children were "forced" to write thank you notes even the fill in the blank type when they were little. If you can't write a note...you can't keep a gift. It was that simple!

24 Corners said...

HERE-HERE!!! I'm standing and clapping right now Deb...this is a huge pet peeve of mine, especially where children are involved because I believe it's the parents duty to teach the graciousness of delivering a heartfelt and proper thank you. So often it doesn't happen and I feel sad for the younger generations. My heart has sunk many a time when no thank you arrived for a gift that so much care and thought went into...it's not okay. The worst part is that I started not caring myself (with those few) and stopped sending thanks myself! That has been remedied now...I put my big girl pants on and am now continuing to send the notes again, mostly because if I didn't, would the kids ever know that thank you notes existed...sigh.

So Thank You dear Deb...I just know there will now be more notes of gratitude being sent all around the world...and all because of your fabulous post! :)
xo J~

Millie said...

Taught all 5 sons the Thank You card etiquette. 3 are good, 2 so-so. The latter 2 use their cell phones as a hand-written card substitute, but do actually make a call to the elderly Great Aunts & haven't quite resorted to a text....yet. I'm still waiting for a Thank You note for an expensive wedding gift given 14 mths. ago. I'm sure the bride's mother would be moribund if she knew her daughter has 'forgotten', I know I would be.
Millie x

Parisbreakfasts said...

So much nostalgia...
You reminded me of hearing a HUNDRED times,
"Go upstairs NOW and write ------ a thank you note!"
I think it's wise to still be gracious even if it's just via the internet.
Licking an envelope and putting a stamp on it? Not doing that so much though...
Quelle dommage.

cwhitneyward said...

A friend set up a ritual for writing those dreaded "Christmas" cards. He would buy beautiful cards and set the scene for writing them. He'd sit at his favorite table, have music playing, a scented candle, an old fashioned fountain pen and perfect stamps. As he wrote each note on each card he would think about the person receiving it...a bit of meditation... He turned hours of boredom into magical moments. So, for thank you notes. Find lovely ones. Keep them in a gorgeous box with a perfect pen...stamps...and a small address book. Find a cozy spot and write that note! So it's a double gift...the gift and the gift of giving yourself the moment to slow down and say thank you!

Anonymous said...


Yo no sé escribir en ingles, pero, ví este blog e me gusta mirarlo, és muy bonito y elegante. Gracias por tenerlo.

Yo concordo con su opinion sobre en dar las gracias, pienso que antes de cualquier cosa, és coveniente perpetuar la educacíon, que se empieza como minimo, con un, "muchas gracias".

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Good evening dearest! DO you know that I have a thank you note to write that has been sitting on my dresser for a week? But when I need to send an email thank you, I am THERE IN A HOT MINUTE! Technology, as much as a KERMUDGEN that I am with this new fangled stuff, really has changed me. I prefer to email than to write a note, although when I do write a note, I do feel a sense of nostalgia and charm...gotta practice that...


Billsburg said...

I received a "thank you" note several months ago and can't decide what to think about it. It was from a well educated, 30 year old woman - but after reading it, one would think it was from a second grader. It was poorly written and poorly spaced on the page.

She didn't know how to address the envelope - instead of writing Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, she just wrote Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The other perplexing thing is that she used both blue and black ink on the envelope.

On one hand, it was a thank you note; on the other hand, it was a real mess.

If I don't receive a thank you note, I don't bother buying a gift for that person anymore. Perhaps an etiquette book for this young woman might be useful? Any suggestions?

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Deb
Firstly let me say THANK YOU for the lovely comments you leave.. hehehe.. but seriously I agree,,, the art of letter and card writing is sadly disappearing.. and Thank You seem to be a thing of the past also.. I recently attended a child birthday party... and had gone to a lot of effort to create a piece of art personalized for the child... well on arrival the gifts were all placed in a corner.. to be opened later... I don't know when later was.. not whilst I was there... and this was 6 weeks ago now and I've heard nothing... I find that practice strange... If you plan to not open gifts in front of the giver.. then I think yes.. a thank you or phone call at some point is warranted.. Don't you think? Maybe they didn't like ti.. hahahaha

Ok.. Have a great weekend.. and yes I think it is Rosemary in that shot... ciao xxx Julie

The Simply Luxurious Life said...

I couldn't agree more with you. I can guarantee the art of sending Thank You notes will not die because I will always be writing them. :) You are correct - schools don't teach letter writing as they did when we were in school, so it really does lay as a responsibility to the parents to teach this skill that displays a timeless etiquette.
Thank you for bringing this to light and pulling together a lovely post. Absolutely fell in love with the Merci notecards from Fine Stationary.
Have a beautiful Sunday and thank you for stopping by The Simply Luxurious Life. :)

Dovecote Decor said...

I am beyond guilty as charged--call my Mother, you might get off the phone sometime in 2012. I can't help it. The thank you note police have been keeping score for me for ages. I have come to see thank you notes, as an exchange between people who do not know each other.

Kellie Collis said...

I agree that saying Thank You is still important. It is not about the gift but it's about the time the gift giver spent to give the gift that is most important. That the giver has you in his thoughts. Have a gorgeous week ahead, Kellie xx

joanna said...

Well said, now package this up into a delicious book on the gracious art of living a 'good' life in the practice of all the ways of showing genuine appreciation of those who touch our lives in both big and small ways. I hope many people read your blog and rekindle the art of acts of "repaying" kindness. It is a skill and an art.


EFT Manual said...

Thank you notes never ran out of style. It's a simple way how you appreciate someone.


Absolutely....well said!

Cathi said...

I definitely agree with you!! :)

Unknown said...

Yes, a hand written thank you is such a thoughtful gesture. I try to write one to each of my clients after a project and my children were not allowed to spend any of the money received for birthdays or Christmas until the note was written. One of my husband's grandmothers actually disinherited one of the grandchildren because she never received thank yous for her gifts after Christmas! It's all learned at home, and I'm grateful to my mother for teaching me my manners!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by the blog! Stay tuned in for Friday as we announce the winner of the Lowe's giveaway!

Chris said...

Very well said. Great.
Seattle Real Estate

Glamour Drops said...

Just found your blog through a long trail of exploration ~ and what a lovely discovery you are! I write a design blog in Australia, mostly interior design & architecture, so I love to find a different view of looking at design from another perspective. Especially like your confidence of stating your opinion ~ it makes for great reading.

Greetings from summery Melbourne!

Leigha said...

Oh - the Gracias card is adorable. You'll be happy to know I still write my thank yous by hand. :)


teaorwine said...

A wonderful case made for Thank You correspondence. I used IOMOI for awhile and now Paperless Post to create thoughtful responses to be sent through email. I totally believe this to be acceptable in today's modern world.

Julia Christie said...

Oh boy you have me here!!! This is one of the things I love best to do, send thank you notes, and yes, one of the things society has pushed to the back burner unfortunately.

Can't tell you how many times I have sat at the kitchen table with my little ones composing a crayon thank you to grandma and grandpa for a birthday gift etc.

As a society we are not passing on the things we should be and it will tell in future generations...Sadly.

Had to smile at the reminder of how to write a friendly letter and ogled all of your lovely lovely stationary! Made me want to go out and get some immediately!

insightful post.


Marnie said...

i love thank you notes and always right them...i can sometimes be a little tardy...i taught my daughter about the importance of thank you notes and i must say she writes a beautiful note and she is 18...she has written them every since she was a little girl and everyone tells me how much they like to receive them...which means people love to receive a hand-written personal note by snail mail...real mail not junk mail - you can touch it and see the person's handand the post mark...so much better than any electronic message. they haven't disappeared yet!