How Many Thank Yous for Baby Gifts?

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Dear Uncommon Courtesy,
I am in the final weeks awaiting the arrival of my first child. My Aunt sent us gifts early in the pregnancy for our baby and we sent a thank you note promptly. She has since sent another round of gifts and I’m not sure if a second thank you note is required? Apparently, she also intends to send us a quilt, so should I wait for that? What’s the etiquette here for many gifts with months in between… ? 

Thanks, guys!

Victoria: So with the baby gifts, I think you should just go ahead and send a note for each gift that arrives, even if you know that there are more coming. Thank you notes take almost no time, I wrote one today in about two minutes.

Jaya: That’s true, though I think it’s kind of strange for the aunt to be sending “rounds” of gifts. My idea would be that the first ty note is nice, and for subsequent gifts close together, a phone call would do? Because maybe it was something like the Aunt bought a bunch of stuff on Amazon and they sent them out when they were in-stock, so they’re coming piecemeal.

Victoria: Oooh yeah, that’s a good idea. Although, people get even more zany about babies than they do about weddings, so she might just be going overboard.

Jaya: That’s true, but also I’d hope that, as stressed as married couples are, people know pregnant people are even more stressed, and maybe don’t feel like writing notes all the time. Though yeah, it doesn’t take long. I mean obviously if you want to handwrite a note for everything go ahead.

Victoria: It really doesn’t, and you probably aren’t getting that many gifts. I would def send a note for a handmade gift like a quilt though. My mom does a lot of beautifully crafted handmade gifts and she gets super annoyed when she doesn’t get properly thanked for them.

Jaya: Yeah. It certainly depends on the gift. But if you get a pack and play and send a note for that, and then two weeks later get some onesies, I think you can phone it. And just be thankful for how generous the person is being.

Victoria: Yessss, definitely. and like, again, when baby is born, maybe send a quick email with a photo of them using the gift. It is fairly low effort and you are probably taking a million pictures of baby anyway.

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Etiquette Terms: Bread and Butter Letter

True life: Icelandic butter is the best.

True life: Icelandic butter is the best.

Short and sweet for Friday!

A bread and butter is a letter/note you write after attending a dinner party or staying at someone’s home. You write a couple paragraphs thanking the host/ess, saying what a great time you had, praising the food/their lovely home, etc. Basically, a thank you note with a cute name!

The Best Way To Miss a Thank You Note

Little Miss LateWe talk a lot about thank you notes here, because really, if you have to choose one thing in your life to do that’s polite, thanking people should be it. You can use a spoon for a fork and argue about politics and never offer to bring a bottle of wine to a party, but if you thank someone for the pleasure of their company, you’ll probably still be considered a nice person. Actually, who knows, the person I just described sounds like sort of a dick, but thanking people is still important!

One of the biggest thanking tasks adults face is thanking guests after a big event, and for most people this means a wedding. Currently, the median age at first marriage is around 29 for American men, 27 for American women, so plenty old enough to have mastered a thank you note and know that they should be sent timely. But guess what else happens around age 28? Graduating from grad school. Having enough money to buy a home. Pursuing an active career. Maybe a kid happened, or a parent died, or you moved across the country. Life doesn’t stop for weddings!

Which is why this belated thank you note package makes me so happy.

I recieved this from two friends who got married in March 2012 and had not yet sent out thank you notes. Honestly I didn’t notice, because we’d seen them many times since and always talked about what a good time we had together on that day. But the other day we received a rather thick envelope from them, which included a card that began “Thank you for your patience…” It reads:

To our wonderful family and friends,

Between New Year’s Day 2011 and now we have had: a grad school graduation, a wedding, a giant honeymoon to the other side of the world, several job changes, and more. Through all of that, we had all of these cards sitting at our house waiting…and waiting…and waiting…to be mailed, and it just didn’t happen, because well, we failed. We have owed these to you for quite some time and wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to correct our error. Hope you are doing well, and happy…Veteran’s Day?

Inside were personal thank you notes, photos, holiday cards, etc., all which had clearly been written at the time they should have been sent. Honestly, it was fantastic. You know how we questioned whether someone would feel loved and appreciated getting a thank you note a year later? Well, I did!

The key is, though, that they acknowledged their missteps. If they had just sent a card a year later it would be one thing, but clearly they felt a little bad and wanted to remind everyone they cared. That’s what this whole thing is about. So kudos to the couple, for knowing how to make someone feel thanked.

How Do I Send A Business Thank You Note?

Even this baby knows to email a thank you after an interview.  Via

Even this baby knows to email a thank you after an interview. Via

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

What is the best way to thank someone in a business setting? I’m used to writing thank you notes for gifts and things, but not for job interviews or references.

Best,

Professional Confusion

Official Etiquette:

The Emily Post Institute suggests thanking twice, once verbally when leaving and once in writing. Ask A Manager says they are always a good idea, in email form, and intending to build on the conversation in the interview.

Our Take:

Victoria: Basically, the idea is that you should absolutely be writing thank you notes after all job interviews

Jaya:  Does it have to be on paper?

Victoria:  Nope, paper is way too slow! I started at my current job 2 days after my interview- paper would have gotten there way too late.

Jaya:  Yeah, and you’re probably already emailing with them.

Victoria: Also, you should wait at least a few hours to email it so it looks like you have actually considered your words and thought about the interview.

Jaya: Haha I never write interview thank you notes and that is why I never get hired.

Victoria: Duuuude, you need to.

Jaya: Well in my line of work usually they tell me a specific way to follow up, just like “send us clips/pitch something/etc.”

Victoria: That’s different because you’re still talking. And I would think maybe you would say “it was great talking to you….here are my clips.”

Jaya: Yeah, that’s what I usually do.

Victoria: Then you are doing it!

Jaya: But I remember I got a handwritten thank you note from a girl I had a 15 minute conversation with about working in in my field,  and I was like ‘gahhhh what is this.”

Victoria: Was it just an informational interview?

Jaya: Basically? She was a friend of a family member, just graduated, wanting to know what working in my field was like. Can we make a point that I am the worst at etiquette because people do stuff and I’m like “ew what are you doing, everyone stop talking to each other.”

Victoria: You are not the worst! But for those I do send handwritten notes because the person took actual time to help me out. But that reminds me of another thing I was thinking of recently that’s kind of a side topic.

I went on an informational interview once and the person who was talking to me bought us coffee. And now thinking about it, I probably should have bought the coffee and should have made it clear in my original email to her, like, could I buy you a cup of coffee and ask you about how you got your job and how can I get a job like it.

Jaya:  Really? I mean, that doesn’t come off as a bribe?

Victoria: Nah. But yeah, it’s confusing! Because they are probably the more successful person and you are probably broke-ish.

Jaya:   I think it depends on who does the asking.

Victoria:  Hahaha, like a date.

Jaya: Hahahaha, and you have to leave your napkin on the left when the interview is over.

Jaya:  So what do you actually say in your thank you notes? My standard for interviews is something like “just wanted to thank you for taking the time to talk to me. I’m very excited about the position, and please let me know if you need anything else from me…”

Victoria:  I have actually started eliminating the thank you part- as these are supposed to be more of a follow up, and you are kind of equal partners in finding a good fit for you and for them. And it’s really more of a business meeting than someone really giving you their time. They want you to solve a problem for them!

Jaya:  Oh interesting! What do you write?

Victoria:  Here is a sample:

Dear Whoever,

It was such a pleasure to meet you today. I really enjoyed our conversation about your wonderful company and really appreciate your taking the time to meet with me.

The position sounds like it would be a great fit for my skills and career goals and I want to reiterate how excited I would be for this opportunity. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,

Victoria

So I guess I sort of thank them in saying I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me but I just don’t like saying thank you.

Jaya:  Ahh yeah. Damn yours is better, no wonder you get hired.

Victoria Hahaha, I mean, I’ve used the same format for all of my recent interviews and it was only successful 1 out of 10 times. I would also be a bit more specific in what skills I had discussed in the interview that I think would be a good fit. And maybe add in a bit about what I liked about the company. But anyway, working in HR a bit myself, it is noticed when people do or do not send SOMETHING. So it’s important.

Jaya:  That’s good to know that people actually notice it. I feel like a lot of people think “ehh who cares” but it makes a difference!

Victoria:  Another thing- you should send a note to everyone who interviews you- like if you sit in with a couple different people or whatever.

Jaya:  I try to do that but damn, it is so hard to get everyone’s names.

Victoria:  However, I did have one interview where all my contact was with HR, but I also spoke to a person who would be the supervisor for the role. She didn’t give me a business card or any contact info and told me to direct all questions to HR, so I didn’t send her a note, just sent to HR. Sometimes you can look them up on the company website or on LinkedIn, but just do your best and ask everyone for a card!

You Do Not Have A Year To Send Thank You Notes

no-letters-webThe other day, while on our various rounds to wedding websites because we like to see how things are done, we stumbled upon YET ANOTHER person saying something along the lines of “well whatever, even Miss Manners says you have up to a year after the wedding to send thank you notes.” We’ve addressed this before. Miss Manners has called it “slander.” (FYI she says: “It is a popular young brides’ tale (as opposed to an old wives’ tale) that one can take up to a year writing thank-you letters for wedding presents.This is not true, and never has been. Thank-you notes are due right after presents are received.”) And yet the myth persists. Today, we try to figure out just who the hell is perpetuating it.

Victoria: First off, Miss Manners is the STRICTEST etiquette expert. She doesn’t even like registries and will call it a “shopping list.” She pretty much thinks you should psychically figure out what people are getting you and send the note ahead of time so it arrives the same time the gift does, lol.

Jaya: Yeah, and that’s insane. But now I’m worried. If enough people think that you have a year, is that gonna become the rule? Hahah “worried.” Obviously there are bigger issues, but still.

Victoria: I mean, we can only do so much.

Jaya: I personally do not care about settling on a specific time frame. I’ve gotten letters late and it’s been perfectly fine (more on that in another post). I’m just frustrated that people seem to get tied up in the rules and forget about looking at this from a common sense perspective. Waiting a year to send thank you notes just does not make sense. Would you feel very thanked and appreciated if you got a note a year later?

Victoria: Exactly. Besides, then you just have them hanging over your head for a year.

Jaya: I’m guessing if you’re the type of person to think a year is ok, you wouldn’t feel like it’s “hanging over your head.” I  mean maybe they are, but I always felt like if you really wanted to thank someone, you’d do it quickly whether “etiquette” says so or not.

Victoria: Yeah! Like why would you bother sending thank you notes a year after the wedding? At that point no one even remembers, and the people who do are already mad at you about it.

Jaya: Hahahahaha. Ok, so where the hell did this idea that you have a year came from?

Victoria: I think it came from the idea that you do, technically, have a year to send a gift, and people got confused about what you had a year to do. And if someone sends you a gift 8 months later, you are going to be sending out that thank you note 8 months after the wedding. But not for gifts that got there around the wedding! Although, I feel that waiting a year to give a gift is kind of dumb too.

Jaya: Yeah, that seems impractical.

Victoria: On the other hand, maybe it’s wise to wait—especially if you are going to a celeb wedding—they might be divorced by the time you get around to it.

Jaya: MISS MANNERS MADE THAT SAME QUIP ABOUT CELEBRITIES AND QUICK MARRIAGES!

Victoria: I have been reading her column regularly.

Jaya: Maybe it’s that people planning weddings are looking for any excuse not to have to do something.

Victoria: Haha yeah, but that’s a total bridezilla move, to write off something for the courtesy and happiness of your guests/loved ones in order to make something easier for yourself.

Jaya: I have noticed another trend of waiting to send thank you notes so you can include photos. Most of the ones I’ve gotten 4-5 months out have prints of the bride/groom and any of me that the photographer managed to snap. Which is nice, but there is also no reason why you can’t do both.

Victoria: I honestly think most people would prefer a plain old thank you note on time to stewing for 6 months waiting for a photo- which 75% of the guests will throw away. And with a picture of the bride and groom, unless you are super close- what are you going to do with it???

Jaya: Yeah! I am not gonna have my 2nd cousin’s wedding photo framed in my apartment.