How Much Thanks Is Too Much Thanks?

Recently, we were discussing whether you could go overboard with thanking someone…

Jaya: Okay so the question is, is there ever a time where a thank you note is not appropriate or too much?
We’re always harping on how thank you notes are so great, but they do have a tendency to be Very Official and that can be weird for certain things


Victoria: That’s true. I think thank you notes can be weird for monumental gifts and services…like, they are so small in comparison, that they seem silly? Although, I guess, when my grandmother sent me my inheritance early, I think I sent a note but also called her (for me, calling her is a supreme gesture since we just…don’t talk on the phone).


Jaya: That’s a good point! Yeah, I think with large, generous gestures, especially with family, a phone call or in person thank you seems more meaningful. Like, I sent thank you notes to people who got me bowls for my wedding. This should be different than that.


Victoria: Haha yeah, exactly. And like, even aside from money gifts, like say someone came and stayed with you when you were sick for a period of time, or something. like…a thank you note is just not enough. And really, you aren’t GOING to be able to even really thank them in a way that is meaningful enough for what you received from them. Other than to sincerely thank them when it is occurring and hopefully be willing to do something similar for them.



Jaya: Right. I think that’s key, that this is all in service of conveying a deep emotion, which is a hard thing to make tangible. But to me, someone looking into my eyes and thanking me for something is always going to FEEL nicer than a note.
Victoria: Exactly. I like notes for wedding presents and stuff because it feels very formal for a formal exchange. But its very rote.


Jaya: Though, you bring up that nothing will ever be enough, which brings me to another pet peeve–people who will not stop thanking.


Victoria: Ughhh yeah, it’s very embarrassing.


Jaya: It seems like they understand that a note or a phone call is not enough, but try to make up for that by bringing it up all the time.


Victoria: Just be cool everyone.


Jaya: hahahaha


Victoria: No, I am serious though. It’s the same with taking compliments.


Jaya: Yes!


Victoria: Really and seriously try to bite your tongue and just say thank you the once.


Jaya: I mean, if anything, it just unnecessarily raises the bar. Then it makes people who only get one thank you from someone feel like that is somehow inadequate or in-genuine.


Victoria: That’s true.


Jaya: And also, I think it’s almost like saying “I’m sorry.” You’re not doing this to come off as a good person, you’re doing this to convey a specific feeling for the benefit of someone else. So just like, be sincere in your thanks and you won’t have to do it more than once.


Victoria: Agreed. Although, I think it can come up naturally sometimes- like with the Hamilton thing (ED: Jaya chipped in with a ton of people for Hamilton tickets for Victoria’s birthday), yeah, I thanked you guys at the time (and tried to thank everyone individually, in person) but then also specifically mentioned it when posting about it when it happened, and a few times when mentioning it to other people. But that feels organic, I guess?


Jaya: Oh totally. I’m not saying it has to be a hard and fast rule of ONE THANK YOU AND THAT’S IT. I think you nailed it, when it feels organic that’s fine. Instead of it coming out of an anxiety that you haven’t done enough.


Victoria: Haha yeah. I mean, I think the giver can feel the difference between joy and anxiety? Hence the be cool thing. When in doubt, say thank you once.


Jaya: Probably. Nobody is as smooth as they think they are, so if they send a note and call and bring it up twice in person, the giver is probably like “okay but you can chill now.”


Victoria: Hahaha I am smooth. But yeah, agreed.


Jaya: Well of course YOU’RE smooth. We’re talking about people without an extensive glove collection here.


Victoria: I am available for lessons for the low low price of $50 an hour, LOL.


Jaya: hahahahaha. Lessons on how to own gloves and thank people effectively, call Victoria.

Separate Thank You Notes for a Joint Gift

[Via Emily Orpin]

[Via Emily Orpin]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

If a mother and daughter gave me a joint gift for my wedding shower, do I need to send them separate thank you notes? They live at different addresses.


Splitting My Thanks

Official Etiquette

In this situation, you would send separate thank you notes. The exception is a large group gift, such as a work team chipping in on something, you can write one note and send it to the main organizer to pass around.

Our Take

Jaya: Do you need to write a thank you for both of them?

Victoria: Yep! That was easy!

Jaya: I think so too.

Victoria: Yay, we agree!

Jaya: With the caveat that, if the daughter is like in college and likely just threw her name on the card (like I did and still do too often), a card to just the mom will probably be fine.

Victoria: Just like, if you are inviting a family of parents and kids but the kids are grown up and live on their own, they also need their own invitation.

Jaya: That’s a good rubric! If you sent separate invites, send separate thank you notes. Which made sense cause like, in college, invites to things like that got sent to my parents house.

Victoria: Oooh yessss, that is a good summation of my point!

Jaya: Yeah. God why are thank you notes so involved?

Victoria: Haha I mean, you could just send them for everything and not worry about it.

Jaya: Side note: handwritten notes are oppressive when you’ve injured yourself and can’t actually handwrite (ED: Jaya recently shaved the tip of her thumb off using a mandolin. Stay away from mandolins!). Stop being so ableist, handwritten notes.

Victoria: LOL, yes, well, I think people will understand in that case and also then your husband or partner should write them (which they should be doing anyway.)

Jaya: what if he’s come down with a terrible case of having illegible handwriting?

Victoria: Raise your sons to have good handwriting! Don’t let women to continue to carry the full burden of emotional labor!

Separate Thank You Notes for Shower and Wedding Gifts?

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

Do I need to write two thank you notes if a person gave me both a shower gift and a wedding gift? What if they arrived very closely together?


Doubly Thankful

Official Etiquette

Separate events, separate gifts and separate thank you notes.

Our Take

Jaya: So do you need to write two separate thank yous?

Victoria: Yep. That was easy!

Jaya: Really? I think if you’ve already received both gifts you can put them on the same note.

Victoria: Hmmm, I supppppose.

Jaya: Unless one is explicitly for the bride and one is explicitly for the couple.

Victoria: Which, technically the shower implies (Ed: Traditionally shower gifts are specifically for the bride alone). But these days its not so much.

Jaya: But if you got a towel set at the shower and a toaster in the mail a week later why shouldn’t that be both in one note?

Victoria; Haha yeah. Thats a good point. Just semantics, I guess. Two events, two notes. Like people who have birthdays close to Christmas- it’s nice to have the division.

Jaya: Right. it’s whether you see it as two events or like, all tied to one big event.

Victoria: Yeah, I mean, to an extent often, the shower is just the women, so if the woman was part of a couple, you’d be thanking her both for the gift and attending the shower. And then thanking the couple for the wedding gift.

Jaya: Umm single people give gifts too, Victoria. Jeez.

Victoria: As a single person, I know they do, lol.

Jaya: Nah I bet you’re rude and never give gifts.

Victoria: I mean, I would probably still send two, but you are also probably fine with one. I might also posssssibly change my mind depending on the age of the gift giver. Younger people probably won’t care as much as older people, so if it was like a 60 year old friend of your mom’s….then probably two notes. It’s kind of rude to do that, have different levels of thanking, but I see it more as peacekeeping.

Jaya: Ehhh, hopefully future generations understand that one note with lots of thanks in it is intent enough. That’s not politeness, that’s expected custom.

Victoria: Yeah, true. I would say, in generally, go with your gut!

Jaya: Yeah!

Victoria: If you are afraid that person is going to whine to your mom that you are the RUDEST if you don’t send two notes, send two notes, otherwise, one is probably fine. IF the gifts really did come THAT close together.

Jaya: And then maybe don’t invite them to future things.

Victoria: Haha well, politics and blah blah blah. But once you are married you probably don’t have to worry about another big event

Jaya: Good point.

Always Thank You Note Questions

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy  fancy stationery.

If I had infinite dollars, I would only buy fancy stationery.

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,


I know that thank you notes, specifically wedding thank you notes, are a hot topic on the site! I’m getting married next month, and–don’t worry!–we plan to send thank you notes promptly after the big event. 
Here’s where modern wedding arrangements and technology complicates things. We’ve been living together for years.Our family and friends are located all over, meaning that more than half of the wedding guests are traveling out of state (some out of the country) for this thing. The wedding is actually an 8 + hour drive for us. Nobody wants to transport heavy housewares around the country. So, we set up a housewares/honeymoon registry on Which yes, we know is controversial, but our guests seem into it for convenience.
Anyway, here’s what I don’t know how to navigate. I’m getting a bunch of notifications that people are sending us gifts through the site. Some of whom are coming to the wedding, some of whom are not. Should I wait until after the wedding to send thank you notes? 
More complex: we’re taking our honeymoon three weeks after the wedding. Some of the cash gift categories on the site are for specific honeymoon experiences (meals, boat rides, etc.). Should I wait until after the honeymoon to send these thank you notes so they can be more specific and we can talk about how we enjoyed the experiences? I know that promptness is encouraged, but “Thanks Cousin! Your cash gift enabled us to enjoy some delicious treats on our honeymoon. We had the most fantastic macarons at an adorable cafe overlooking the Seine.” is a lot more personalized than “Thanks Cousin, for supporting us through a cash gift as we begin our marriage.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Promptly Thankful

Jaya: Okay, so there’s a lot here! So first off, transporting heavy things across the country. I wouldn’t worry about this.

Victoria: Yeah, people will figure it out. Plus, BTW to EVERYONE, you are supposed to ship the gifts to the couple/the bride’s home! Don’t bring it to the wedding. Because thats a pain for you and its a pain for the couple to get it home.

Jaya: That is a plus side of registries. People don’t want to schlep a stand mixer to a wedding, and I don’t want to schlep one home!

Victoria: Exactly, I mean, even if you buy off the registry, you should ship it to them. The registry will probably even tell you what address it should be sent to.

Jaya: Definitely. Unless there are explicit instructions otherwise.

Victoria: Yeah, always follow directions.

Jaya: But with thank you notes, I think everyone should be doing them as they get the gifts, even if some of them are cash to be used for specific honeymoon activities.

Victoria: Definitely, always always always send thank you notes as you receive the gifts. This way the giver knows that you received it and doesn’t have to wonder. Plus it cuts down on the amount of work you have to do after the wedding.

Jaya: Definitely. And if it’s for something on the Honeymoon, you can just word it about the anticipation. Instead of “Thanks, Cousin, for your gift that let us eat some delicious treats on our honeymoon” you can say “we can’t wait to eat some delicious treats on our honeymoon.”

Victoria: Yeah! And when you get back, there is nothing stopping you from sending them a quick email with a picture of you doing the activity that they gifted!

Jaya: The one I was always the most awkward about was thank you notes to people not invited to the wedding

Because there is that aspect of like…why are you sending me a gift? I know gifts are gifts etc, but it’s weird!)

Victoria; Haha yeah, that would weird me out too. I guess you just say, thank you so much for the [gift]. It is so kind of you to be thinking of us during this special time and we value your support.

And then…let it go?

But yeah, I think its easier to deal with when its older people. I think it would be really weird if a peer sent something and you weren’t inviting them to the wedding.

Jaya: Yeah, and short and sweet always works. Just try not to mention the wedding itself.

I’d like to take this time to encourage people not to send gifts for weddings they’re not invited to, unless it was a courthouse wedding/explicitly very small wedding. Maybe not all people getting married are like me, but you’ll probably be making the couple feel really guilty.

Victoria: And if you ARE a peer who wants to send a gift, please include a card that says “I know you are having a small wedding and I am very happy for you, so I really wanted to give you a little token of my affection with no strings attached.”

Jaya: Yesssss. That’s good.

Victoria: Except try to make it not sound passive aggressive. But if you are close enough to send a gift, you are probably close enough to get the right tone in.

Jaya: Definitely.


How to Graciously Accept a Gift You Do Not Want

Always an option

Always an option

There was a video going around recently (that turned out to be fake) showing a husband surprising his wife with a $60,000 kitchen remodel. And when she walks in she is not impressed and walks out. Now, if it were me, I would be FURIOUS that my (hypothetical) husband spent $60,000 of our money without consulting me on a change in our house that I would have to look at and cook in for at least the next 10 years. And the fake kitchen in this particular video was not even that nice, so adding in that anyone who had spent $60k on it was an idiot who got wildly ripped off. It was baffling to me, then, that so many of the comments on the video were about the wife being ungrateful and horrible. Now this is an incredibly extreme example of being ungracious about a gift, but highlights this visceral reaction that people have to their gifts being rejected.

Thus it is important to learn how to receive gifts gracefully and with tact.

Obviously, it is important not to scowl, say “this isn’t what I wanted,” call the thing ugly, throw it across the room, or otherwise make the giver aware that you hate their gift.

You should at least act like you are pleased- say something like “this is great! I always wanted a purse shaped like a cat!”

If it’s someone close to you like your grandma who you see frequently, it’s a nice gesture to keep the offending item around and pull it out when they come over, but this is completely optional.

Say thank you in person or write a thank you note if you are not with them.

If you are able to figure out where they bought it and return it, that’s fine and great. If not, give it away to someone who can use it more.

Avoid regifting if it is likely that the original giver will find out.

If you do run into a problem where someone is consistently giving you tons of stuff that you don’t want and don’t have room for (like bringing you random junk every week) then you can have a gentle conversation about appreciating the thought but you are trying to get clutter out of your life and you would love to see just them, no presents.

If a repetitive poor gift giver is someone VERY close to you like your parents or your spouse, you can also have a gentle conversation to try to steer them in the right direction.

So tell me, what are the worst gifts you were ever given?