By Wilma Bedford
What with the fast, material and digital world in which we live, a thank-you letter may seem needless and old-fashioned, but good manners and etiquette are still necessary.
When is a thank-you letter necessary? With every gift, however small, when somebody has done something special for you, when a person has gone out of their way for you. The giver has gone to some trouble looking for a gift with you in mind and will appreciate your acknowledgement of and thanks for the gift through a personal note from you. It is also good manners to thank wedding guests and mourners for their interest in the occasion, as well as guests at a kitchen tea or stork party.
Select a blank card of good-quality paper or any good-quality writing paper with an envelope and write the giver a handwritten message. If possible, mail the thank-you letter because the giver will also appreciate a carefully addressed note. If the postal service is unreliable, it would be in order to design a digital card with a suitable message with a photo of yourself or the occasion attached.
The purpose of the thank-you card is to say thank you for the gift you received. Be specific and mention the gift or the gesture for which you are grateful and say how you are going to use the gift, especially if it is a wedding present. Say, for instance, that the wine stand has already been given its place in the dining room and is in use. Also compliment the giver for his or her careful choice of a gift. Write a thank-you letter to everybody involved with the arrangements for the marriage, as well as to the parents. In the case of wedding gifts it is etiquette to send out the thank-you gifts within eight weeks.
When you receive a gift of money, do not mention the amount in your letter but only refer to it as a generous contribution and how you are going to use it. If somebody has made a contribution towards something specific, for instance a funeral, hospital expenses or charity, express your appreciation and thanks and refer to the money as a welcome donation.
End your letter on a personal note and say that you highly appreciate the relationship and the fact that the person has remembered you.
What to do about an unwelcome or unusable gift, for instance a set of carving knives, if you are a vegetarian, or the wrong colour of shirt? Still say thank you because the gesture of friendship is more important than the gift. Say that you appreciate the gift and appreciate it that the person has thought of you. Keep the gift for a year, display it or wear it once so that the giver can see that you haven’t thrown it away. Be friendly and courteous at all times.
When is it not necessary to send a letter? When you have been invited for a meal and have thanked the person verbally. When somebody has sent you flowers a phone call or digital message will suffice. When somebody prepared a meal for you when you were sick a phone call will be enough but remember not to return the containers empty to the giver.
Do’s and Dont’s of Thank-you Notes. Bortz, Daniel. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com