Should you write a thank-you note? An etiquette guide.

Should you write a thank-you note? An etiquette guide.

Your Career: Tips and Advice

Should you write a thank-you note? An etiquette guide.

I am embarrassed to admit it: I am terrible about writing thank you notes.

My grandmother and my mother would be horrified if they knew how inconsistent I am about this basic rule of etiquette.

I mean well, but somehow I always end up putting it off, putting it off and putting it off some more as work, kids events, school, life, etc. etc. gets in the way.

But it turns out that writing thank you notes need not be onerous. Nor are they required in every situation.

I looked to The Emily Post Institute to find out more about when and where they are necessary.

Full disclosure: Emily Post notes that “it’s never wrong to send a written thank you, and people always appreciate getting “thanks” in writing.”

So there’s that.

Shower gifts

Written note: Mandatory.

The site notes that “the majority of people consider it rude if they don’t receive a written note of thanks even if you’ve given thanks in person.”

Wedding Gifts

Written note: Mandatory

You should send a note within three months of receiving the gift. And you need to write a note even if you gave your in-person thanks.

Condolences/Bereavement

Written note: Mandatory

Anyone who sends you a card, flowers or makes a donation to a charity in the deceased’s name or honor should receive a written note. However, it is OK to designate a member of your family to handle these responses if you aren’t feeling up to it.

Kids’ birthday gifts

Written note: Optional, depending on the situation

If the gift giver attended the party, and you gave your thanks in person, then a written thank you note is not necessary. If the gift giver could not attend, or you opened the presents later, then a verbal thank you or an email is sufficient.

Written notes are always appreciated by relatives who live out of state, or could not attend. Do make your kids part of the process — either have them sign the note, or draw a picture, or, if they are old enough, write the note themselves.

Hostess gifts

Written note: Not necessary

If you are having a dinner party or a housewarming, and a close friend or relative brings you a present, a sincere verbal “thank you” is sufficient, according to The Emily Post Institute says. If the individual cannot attend, a written note is not necessary, but you should acknowledge the gift via phone call or email as soon as possible.

Holiday gifts

Written note: Not necessary

If the relative or the close friend is present when you open the gift, a verbal thank you is enough. If they are not, call and express your thanks.

Congratulatory gifts or cards

Written note: Expected

If someone that you work with or are friends with sends you a personal gift or writes you a card to congratulate you on a promotion, graduation or some other accomplishment, it is polite to send a written thank you note in return. If the gift was cash or some other form of money, let them know how you plan to use it in your note.

For more thank you note advice, visit The Emily Post Institute.

After a job interview

Written note: Mandatory

Emily Post recommends thanking your interviewer twice – first in person, and then follow up with a handwritten note as soon as possible.

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