Thank You Card Etiquette

How should I practice thank you card etiquette?
The art of thank you cards should not be considered old-fashioned etiquette. Even in this busy world, a small sign of gratitude should be at the top of our priority list. You can buy a batch of blank thank you cards at your local drug or discount store and simply personalize each one by mentioning the gift that you received. Another tip is to ask someone to write down the gift next to the correct name on the guest list for easy reference later.

Most everyone knows that you should send a thank you card after receiving a present, but hardly anyone practices the same etiquette after being invited to attend a special event. If you have been invited to a dinner party or other special occasion, you should always send a thank you card to the host and/or hostess stating what a wonderful time you had and expressing your gratefulness for being invited.

Cathleen Hanson, who is one of the owners and founders of the International School of Protocol, which teaches proper etiquette to children, adults, educators, and businesses, says, "If you know the person really well, you don't have to write the thank you note. You can certainly call them. That is the more informal thank you. Whether you write or call, you need to acknowledge the event. Send the note as soon as you can…make the thank you card as personal as you can. State that you really liked the food, enjoyed the company, and what a great time you had." For added enjoyment, enclose a copy of a picture that you took at the event, of you and the host and/or hostess, or them with the guest of honor.

If you and your spouse attended the event together, you can respond as a couple with one thank you card. If your children attended with you, you may also respond as a family, but why not take this as an opportunity for your children to practice thank you card etiquette? Have them write their own message on either a handmade or an additional store bought card. It will help build the foundation for future gratitude and they'll be proud of practicing something so "grown-up".

While handwritten cards are the best form of expressing gratitude and a phone call may be acceptable if you are very close friends, you should never send an e-mail to thank someone for a gift or invitation. According to Cathleen, this is a definite no-no when it comes to proper thank you card etiquette. She says, "Today, with email, people can get lazy and send an email thank you card. However, do not email it. Write it…Having something to hold in your hand is so important. It becomes more tangible."