A desk perfect for penning thank you notes. [click]

One of the highlights of my childhood was sorting the mail. Not only did it give me first dibs on viewing the new covers of our monthly magazine subscriptions, it also enabled me to study the handwriting of family friends sending notes of thanks - sometimes adapting my penmanship to theirs. With the addition of electronic communication, I’ve noticed a lot of missteps when it comes to the proper response for the receipt of gifts, and the like. To be certain your method of thanks doesn't elicit a Southern “bless their heart" do consider the following guide to gratitude:

Pen to Pad - This is a non-negotiable. When someone is thoughtful enough to present you with a gift, an old-fashioned handwritten thank you note is required. Not a text message. Never a social media shoutout. A stamped note via snail mail is still considered the most sincere form of gratitude. In the case of graduations, weddings and babies, stationery should always be on hand, so that you can quickly thank the giver.

Type Away – Though not as warm, an email expressing thanks is appropriate following an invitation using the same method. Evite, Paperless Post, and others have opened up the door to an inexpensive and casual way of spreading the word about upcoming events. If your dinner party invitation comes via email, and your relationship with the host is such, an emailed thank you may be appropriate.

Rule of Thumbs – On occasions such as being invited by a close friend to lunch, a quick text message of gratitude afterwards is sufficient. There’s a debate when it comes to dating, but my advice is that a quick thank you text, once you're home, is appropriate here. Surely, you will have thanked them in person, but this gesture keeps the lines of communication open.

Please note: A late thank you is always better than none at all. Also, handwritten thank you notes through the post will always make the biggest impact on their recipient. The best way to ensure your note is sent promptly is to have all the tools needed (stationery, stamps, etc.) at the ready. In any case, it's important to know your audience and cater to their expected level of gratitude. After all, the basic rule of etiquette is to make certain the other person feels comfortable!

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Tags: c-teamblog, etiquette, lifestyle, manners, other, parenting&family


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Comment by Erika Preval on March 6, 2014 at 9:46pm
Thank you, Tamara, and happy belated 40th! I'm quickly approaching that celebration, myself. Certainly, your guests should understand your not thanking them right away, as you might not have had thank you notes on hand. They'll appreciate your gratitude for their coordination of the surprise, though, when you're able to send your responses.
Comment by Tamara Eckles on March 6, 2014 at 11:34am

I really enjoyed reading this post Erika. I love receiving thank-you cards, but I must admit I may have dropped the ball on giving thank-you cards to those who attended my last birthday party.  It was my big 40 and it was a surprise party. Did I truly drop the ball not sending thank-you cards or am I in the clear? :-)

Comment by Tamara Eckles on March 6, 2014 at 11:29am

Comment by Yve Parker on March 3, 2014 at 8:12pm

Erika and Stephanie, I am a kindred spirit who loves shopping and discovery stationery stores and new, unique brands.  And yes, I have lots of thank you note cards from cute to formal. I almost love stationery as much as I love Italian shoes.

Comment by Erika Preval on March 3, 2014 at 12:09pm

Yve, your mother and I share the same rule! It's a great way to get children into the habit of writing thank you notes right away, and they're written with the excitement and anticipation of using the gift.

Comment by Erika Preval on March 3, 2014 at 12:08pm

Stephanie, don't you just love stationery shopping?! I have chest of drawers that houses all stationery for myself (mostly) and the family. We'll keep your confession our little secret...

Comment by Yve Parker on March 3, 2014 at 5:56am

Ah, this post hits home for me, Erika.  My mother's rule was a thank you note had to be written and mailed prior to - spending, playing with or wearing a gift.

Comment by Stephanie Hendricks Ayres on March 2, 2014 at 10:13pm

OK, I'll confess, one of the reasons I didn't keep my maiden name when I got married was so I could get all new personalized stationery/ :)  Great post Erika!

Comment by Erika Preval on March 2, 2014 at 9:05am

Rebecca, I LOVE what you've done to raise southern gentlemen. Like you, my daughters receive annual correspondence from the White House because of their letters and have calling cards. There's still a place for such things in modern society, and I applaud your efforts to continue the tradition!

Comment by Erika Preval on March 2, 2014 at 9:03am

I'm so excited to bring Charm to The Southern C as a C-Team member, Mary Dell! I appreciate all of your (unknown) mentorship over the past year, and hope to see you soon.

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