Why Thank You Notes Are Still Important

There is value in teaching children to show gratitude with a handwritten thank-you note.

I was invited to a baby shower a few months ago, and although I'm not really close to this person, I was excited to buy something for the baby. I spent a great deal of time shopping for the gifts. I bought three things and spent a lot of money for the gifts. I also wrapped all three — and I hate wrapping. As it turned out, I wasn't able to attend the baby shower, so I dropped the gifts at her house. That was two months ago and I have yet to hear a word about the gifts.

Saying “thank you” for a gift shows that you appreciate the items, or at least, you appreciate the person’s effort to give you something that they think you will like. It’s also important to show your gratitude when someone does something that helps you in some way. When you do, it makes the other person feel appreciated, and it shows that you are a person worthy of their time, money and/or effort.

Below are some tips on when you really need to send a handwritten thank-you note, or when you and your children can get away with simply calling the person or sending them an email or text.

Teaching Kids to Say “Thanks”

Children should send a thank-you note for any gift they receive. It’s important to teach children to show gratitude to people when they do something for them as it shows respect and appreciation. It is especially important to write one if the gift was sent by mail to let the person know it was received and appreciated.

Even if it’s like pulling teeth, take the time to have your children write thank-you notes for gifts they receive. As soon as your child can write his name, let him at least do that on the note. As a child gets older, he can progress from notes that are “fill in the blank” to ones that they personally write.

In addition to the note, people — grandparents especially — like to see children with their gift. Take a picture of the child with the gift and text or email that to the person, or even videotape the child opening up the gift and send the video to the gift-giver in addition to a handwritten note.

Format and Style Matter

This is a great time to teach your kids how to address an envelope and properly write a letter. Encourage them to write neatly and to ask you if they don’t know how to spell something. If your child is under the age of 6 and cannot write the whole note herself, you can buy the thank you cards where the child just needs to fill in the blanks. Below is an example of a nice thank you note that would be appropriate from an 8-year-old.

March 20, 2018

Dear Grandma,

I am so glad that you were able to come to my birthday party. It was really great playing games with you and having dinner together. Thank you so much for the new Star Wars Lego set. I have already started to build it and am having so much fun. I’ll send you a picture of it when it’s all put together.

I love you,


Have cards and stamps ready. I have bought each of my children their own stationary (cheap at Target) and a book of stamps. So, when they need to write a thank-you note there are no excuses like, “What do I use?”

Special Occasions, Congratulatory Gifts and Favors

  • Shower gifts: Even though the gift-giver attended the shower in your honor and you had a chance to say thanks for her gift, you should still send a written note.
  • Wedding gifts: What is not OK to do is to send a generic “thank you” for the gift. I received one that was a lovely picture of the bride and groom, but on the back, they just printed, “Thank you for the gift.” When people spend a lot of time and money purchasing and sending a gift, the bride and groom need to take the time to hand-write a personal note to each guest acknowledging exactly what they gave them within three months if possible.
  • Congratulatory gifts or cards: Anyone who sends a present or a card with a personally written message should receive a note in return. You can also take a picture of yourself with the gift and email or text it to the person thanking them more immediately. A video of the the gift recipient opening the gift and then thanking the personally thanking the gift-giver is so they can see your excitement during this congratulatory time.
  • Gifts received during an illness: The important thing is to thank the person for the gift, but because the person is sick, they may choose to send a text or email or even call the person if they would rather do that instead of writing a note.
  • Condolence notes or gifts: Everyone who has sent a personal note, flowers or a donation should get a written thank-you. A close friend or relative can write the notes on the recipient’s behalf.
  • A favor or nice deed: When someone at work, a friend, family member or neighbor does something nice for you it’s great to show them that you really appreciate it. If you feel that a quick response would be best, then go ahead and send them a text, email or quick call. If you really want to show your sincere gratitude, send them a handwritten thank-you note. Going through the effort of writing something, putting a stamp on the envelope, and walking it all the way out to the mailbox, really shows that extra effort and appreciation.

For more information on children’s etiquette and modern cotillion classes, tips and videos on manners please go to Finesse Worldwide. Have an etiquette question? Email me at aimee@finesseworldwide.com and I’ll be happy to answer your question or even feature it in my next blog.