June 4, 2014

Thank You Notes

One of my favorite parts of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is his Friday 'thank you notes'. Those of you who don't stay up that late, or who miss it on demand or online the next day, Jimmy takes a few minutes during the episode to write out thank you notes. Of course they're usually a joke -- he pokes fun at current topics of the week. 

But Jimmy has class... because it doesn't matter that he's being sarcastic and hilarious (he is a comedian, after all) he still remembers every Friday to pen his thank you notes.

I've noticed a trend in years that often times people don't bother anymore with thank you notes, especially for gifts. I can't tell you how many times I've sent a gift and never heard back from the recipient until I email or call to say 'Did you get my gift?

I wrote a post a little over a month ago where I mentioned my desire to get back into more handwritten correspondence. (I'm also a fan of holiday greetings if you missed that post. If only the mailman would pay me commission.) 

This morning I sat down to write out some long overdue thank you notes to friends who've given us early gifts for the Peanut. Most of the people had received an email from me to say that their gift had arrived safely in the mail, but I still like to follow-up with a real note. 

You don't have to love to write to send a thank you note... it's simply common courtesy, I believe. As a child, if I received a gift from anyone, my mom sat me down and had me write a thank you note within the week. Or I had the option to telephone the person. I wasn't big on chatting over the phone (still not really a fan...) so I usually went for the writing bit. 

Over the years, I have attended countless weddings, and I have always given a gift. Yet I can only count on one hand the number of thank you notes I've received in return. Now I know that wedding gift etiquette is constantly changing, but I'm pretty sure thank you notes (or at least some form of acknowledgement) are still in vogue. 

Yet I'm also noticing that thank you notes for other non-gift events appear to be alive and well here in the South. Last year, I hosted a wine and cheese party for a friend -- soon afterwards a thank you note from the birthday girl showed up on my doorstep. I cooked a friend a meal after she had a baby and received a thank you postcard in the mail within a week... and soon after I hosted a vintage dinner, I got an email from one of the participants who gushed over how lovely the evening was. Every one of my friends who has visited from afar has also sent thank you notes soon after their departure.

Maybe thank you notes are making a comeback! Who doesn't like to be thanked, after all? 

Writing your own thank you notes shouldn't be feared. Here are some tips to get you started: 

1. Have a stack of cards on hand. They don't have to say 'Thank You' on the front or the inside! Blank cards work fine, or even postcards can work. (These also make great gifts for people, especially at a bridal or baby shower. One of my friends purchased a stack of handmade cards for her sister-in-law's baby shower, addressed them with the gift-givers addresses and then stamped all of them for her. It made the whole process of actually sending the thank you notes, easier and faster for her sister-in-law!)

2. Make a list of gifts you get at a birthday party, wedding, baby shower, etc, along with the people who gave them to you. That way you can easily see who gave what gifts. Put a check mark besides the cards you've written already.

3. Set aside a few minutes a day or a block of time to actually write out the notes. If you have a huge list, like from a wedding, just do a few cards every day at the same time. Eventually you'll work your way through the list without feeling overwhelmed.

4. Make the notes personal! The note doesn't have to be eloquent or long, just try to incorporate a way you're going to use the gift, or how much your kiddo loves the toy and takes it everywhere with her. An added bonus especially if the person handmade you a gift: take a photo with your child or yourself using or wearing the gift and send it along with the note! Years ago, I made fleece hats for a friend's twin girls. I purposely made them big, so the girls could grow into them. She sent a thank you note right away, and then later on, I received another card in the mail with a photo of the girls wearing the hats -- totally melted my heart and made my day. You don't even have to bother printing a photo -- snap a pic on your phone and send it via email or text.

5. Above all else: acknowledge the event, gift or act of kindness in some way. You can always place a phone call instead, or send an email, as long as it's sincere! Or, if you see the giver, thank them IN PERSON. 

Finally, if you want to take it up a notch: If you are visiting friends from a distance and staying in their home, pay attention to what they would like or need. Send them a small gift to say thanks for letting you stay in their home... at the very least send a card. I often travel with a small stack of cards and will leave a personalized one for the hostess to find after I depart, along with some posh soap and some handmade washcloths, or a bottle of wine. 

Thank you, dear reader, for clicking on this post today! May your own day be full of thanks. 

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