I have vivid memories of writing thank you notes as a child. I’d be sitting at the kitchen table, pencil in hand, while my mom reminded me that it was not enough to just write, “Thank you for the gift!” No, I had to write a sentence that explicitly stated the gift, (and if it was money I was then to say “generous gift,” not use the word money,) then a line about how I intended to use it, and then a cheery, personalized conclusion, after which I would sign my name.
As an adult, I enjoy writing thank you notes, and still believe in them, most times. I especially like taking the time to really personalize them, and write more than the minimum expectation. And now that my son is old enough to write a few words and his name, he’s starting to get in on the process. But, I’m noticing that this (dare I say, old-fashioned??) process is dying out. People are still polite and thankful…they’re just showing recognition in a different way.
For example, we now have social media. On social media, you have lots of options. A photo of you or your child enjoying the present, a public shout out that everyone can see, or a personalized tag and a public shout out. You can also text with a photo, send a video thanking the gift giver, or send an email. And I think it’s starting to replace the personal, but intimate thank you note because it offers something that a thank you note doesn’t; public recognition. We’re in the generation of oversharing, and public recognition falls right into this zeitgeist.
When you send a gift to someone or a meal to a new mom, isn’t it fun when they post a photo on Facebook or Instagram, with tags like #awesomefriend and #loveyou? It makes you feel awesome…right? Now everyone knows the super nice thing you did, and you have validation that yes, you rock! Plus, the person you have gifted now gets validation that yes in fact, she does have fantastic friends/family.
Or maybe it makes you uncomfortable, and you’d prefer an intimate thank you note; one that privately expresses the appreciation of your gesture.
Or maybe you don’t think a note is necessary. It wastes trees, it’s a waste of time…whatever. In this case, is a private email is enough? A text? A phone call? I have to say, I feel that just a text is the least personalized way of saying thank you.
I do admit that sometimes, I use the text/photo option, especially at holiday time. When we receive many gifts at Christmas for the kids, I rarely write thank you notes for each one, although each gift giver does get either a phone call or text with photo or video of the kids opening the gift. I’m usually not one for the shout out on Facebook, although I have friends who are. And, here’s another consideration to the public shout out. If you say thank you to the world when your friend gives you something, do her other friends wonder why she didn’t do the same for them? Does it embarrass or hurt anyone, unintentionally?
What method of thank you “note” do you prefer and why? Do you think that times are changing when it comes to the etiquette of how to say thank you?