In almost every culture within Western Civilization, it is considered right and proper that one sends a thank you notes after receiving a gift. These notes should be handwritten and should be sent in a timely manner. By “timely”, most experts agree that the note thanking a giver for a gift should be done within three weeks of having received the gift. Exception to this “three week” rule is usually given to new brides and grooms, because newly married couples often spend a week or more honeymooning after their nuptials.
Thank you notes are a relatively simple concept. The idea is to express appreciation for a thoughtful act, expression, or gift. They don’t have to be long, but most experts agree that they should not be electronic. Even in today’s “connected” world, there is something to be said about a tangible envelope that is sent by postal mail. An envelope that comes in the mail that is not an advertisement or a bill is a rarity. When a person takes the time to get out the stationary and personally write out a note thanking someone for a gift, it shows a type of caring that is not evident in an electronic piece of mail that can be written and sent within minutes. A tangible thank you note is also permanent; it can be held and read over and over and even shown to others.
Thank you notes are so important that it is not only women and etiquette experts that make use of them. It has been said that when he was campaigning, President George H.W. Bush (George W’s father) carried a box of cards with him on the campaign trail everywhere he went and wrote a note immediately after each event to the volunteers or hosts.
When writing out a thank you note, it is important to make mention of the gift received or the reason the note is being given. Don’t say “thanks for the lovely gift”. Say, instead “thank you for the beautiful necklace. It goes very well with a pair of earrings I bought last year.” Discuss how you plan on using the gift and tell the person a little bit about what it means to your relationship with them. Allude to the future. You might say something like “I am so glad you were able to come to my Christmas Party. I hope our kids can get together for ice skating in January.”
Another time that it is appropriate to write a thank you note is after a prospective employee has a job interview. It has been said that it is important to get that note written and sent by return mail. The prospective employee thanks the interviewer for taking time to speak with him or her and re-establishing why he or she would be a good fit for the job. Surveys have shown that thank you cards have often given prospective employees a keen edge over other interviewees when the decision of which person to hire is made.
Thank you notes are an important aspect of culture in the Western Hemisphere, and it is vital that each person know when and how to send them.