I Hate Thank You Notes


Thank you cards are (mostly) a waste of time.

There. I said it. Emily Post is rolling around in her grave and wagging her finger at me.  I don’t care – it needs to be said.

Having just given birth to a baby, I have been on the receiving end of a ginormous amount of food, gifts and other support. I had a sprinkle. We had a meal train lasting from my first contraction (thanks Momfia!) to a month after. People who I don’t even know sent us stuff – showering a potentially unspoiled third baby with outfits and toys, and often throwing a little something extra for his brother and sister. I am so so grateful but….

I really, really failed at writing thank you notes. The guilt has been killing me, but I’m ready to let it go.

I know what you are probably thinking – in the time it took to write this blog post you could have knocked out several thank you cards. But every time I go to write them I feel like it is a waste of my time if I have already thanked the recipient.

Thank you cards should not be the one and only way to express gratitude that is recognized by society. They should be one of many tools of communication available to say thank you to a gift provider.

Here are my proposed rules of Thank You Card Etiquette:

  • If you give me a gift in person, I will HUG you and say THANK YOU SO MUCH FRIEND.   I give really good hugs so you will be happy.
  • If you give me a gift If you give me a gift through mail or other means, I will mostly likely run to my phone and text “OMG THANK YOU.” I might give you a special shout out on social media. This will feel good to both you and me.
  • If neither of the above mentioned events occur,  I OWE YOU A THANK YOU CARD.
    • Full disclosure – there are several of you out there that I do owe a thank you card to. I’m sorry, I probably should have written you those cards before I wrote this post. I’m an asshole.  THANK YOU and your card is coming soon!
  • If you want to write me a thank you note, I will appreciate it!  But you do not have to.

Sound fair?

Thank you cards are such a source of stress! I have to keep a diligent list of presents and addresses, have a steady of supply and cards and stamps, keep my toddlers away from all of those supplies AND use my very precious down time writing. Maybe some people get off on it. If that’s your bag, have at it, but writing them is not fun for me.

I just don’t understand why a written thank you somehow trumps a good thank you.Furthermore, it seems like a bad idea to impose these requirements on people who are in need of a little grace. If you think I am too busy to cook my own dinner and thus in need of a meal train, do you really think I have time to be writing thank you notes? Wouldn’t you rather have me take the 5-10 minutes involved in a thank you note relaxing instead? Don’t even get me started on how this is always the woman’s job to do – it seems like another situation where we are set up to fail.

The fact of the matter is, nobody probably notices a missed thank you unless they feel that the other person is ungrateful in some other respect. And in that case, a thank you card isn’t going to fix that problem. A sincere in person “thank you” or phone call is going to go a lot farther.

So let’s give ourselves permission to express our gratitude in the moment and shake off the stress of writing lists and mailing cards. Who’s with me ???


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