Do or Don’t: Mailing Thank You Notes

Do or Don't: Thank You Notes

I’m a big etiquette nerd and love all things politesse, like making eye contact while toasting and tilting your soup spoon away. But I have to say, I’m not feeling thank you cards anymore.

Last weekend, I went to a dinner party at my friend Abbey‘s apartment. She and her husband made pasta and chicken cutlets and arugula salad with mustard vinaigrette. Wine was flowing, and for dessert, they busted out this chocolate pear tart. Everyone laughed and talked about books and movies and travel and gossip, and it was one of those perfect evenings that make you feel glow-y the whole next day.

On the cab ride home, I texted Abbey and raved about her hosting prowess. The next day, we emailed more about the night. She sent me the tart recipe. And, then, the following day… I wrote a thank you card.

But was it needed? It felt weirdly redundant after our many texts and emails.

For the host’s opinion, I asked Abbey and she said, “I loved your handwritten note, but loved even more getting a text or email the next day. Immediacy is wonderful.” Right?

Thoughts? Do you still love writing thank you cards? Getting them? Or can we all agree to skip them?

P.S. Funny NYC etiquette, and how to introduce people.

(Photo of letterpress cards by James Ransom/Food52.)

  1. Candice says...

    Thank you for starting this conversation! In December I was offered a new job and wanted to send thank you cards to the two references I knew had spoken highly of me to the HR rep from my new company. When I asked for their addresses they both seemed very confused and one even said “If you’re sending me a thank you card, it’s not necessary.” I felt so silly! I still sent the cards because I truly appreciate a hand-written note, but it made me question whether I’d gone too far.

  2. Suzie says...

    I don’t know how I missed this post until today. YES, thank you cards are SO important and are so awesome to receive, ESPECIALLY when mailed! Even if you live in the same city! I love choosing interesting stamps and making the envelope pretty. It really only takes a few minutes to write a thank you, compared to the time spent by whoever you’re thanking for whatever they did. I don’t think people do it enough. I especially think for birthday, wedding, and baby gifts they are a must. But these days I’ll take anything – as far too many people these days don’t even say thank you in any form.

  3. Talor says...

    My mother always raised me to send thank you notes when I was given a gift and I still make a point to do that (even if it takes a some time for me to send it – like after the two baby showers I had recently, one before my son was born and one after). I don’t usually send thank you notes after being invited over for dinner, but I would instead bring something as a host/hostess gift (bottle of wine, dessert). I would follow up with a text message either that night or the next day however.

  4. Maybe it is a cultural thing (I live in the Rocky Mountains) but I’ve never heard of someone sending a thank you card for having you over for dinner, or even for parties such as retirement parties or baby shower. People do say thank you and might text or chat about it, and people definitely send thank you cards for gifts. Then again, it is not a very formal culture; outside of weddings, I can’t think of a whole lot of more formal events that are very common around these parts. Even a funeral has people in jeans….

    That said, I think everyone enjoys getting handwritten mail. I like the suggestion one commentator had about maybe sending a “thinking of you card” instead a week later.

  5. I love buying and receiving handwritten cards, but that said, my mind goes blank when I’m about to write the card, so yes to immediate text and perhaps send a ‘hello, I’m thinking of you’ card one week later :)

  6. Keiry says...

    I think ‘thank you’ emails are adequate for casual occasions, but I do prefer thank you cards for more formal events. I wouldn’t know what to do with the thank you cards I’d receive every time I spend time with friends. Plus, one can be pretty creative w/ emails and attach pictures to share!

  7. I think it’s a nice touch but since thank you notes take a few days to arrive, I try to call the next day also. Regarding thank you notes, I absolutely love getting them in the mail, hiding between bills and random flyers. It’s a nice surprise and always makes me happy!


  8. Ann says...

    I love sending them and I love getting them via snail mail preferred. I make my kids write them too because it feels good to get a hand written note.

  9. I heart thank you notes… even though they may not be totally necessary, there’s something sweet and polite about them. I would hate for the tradition to be lost due to technology. <3

  10. Ser says...

    Thank you notes are not even a thing in Australia. Never even seen one or heard of them! Verbal thank yous seem perfectly adequate to me!

  11. I do both. I like the quick feedback for the hosts, but I also think that a note that arrives a few days later shows how much you really enjoyed it – enough to get out the beautiful card/stationery and sometimes even a fountain pen. And be sure to use different words than you texted – otherwise, it does come across as redundant and insincere.

  12. Maggie says...

    I often take a thank you card with me to the dinners I’m invited to. At some point throughout the evening, I have found a private moment to write a thank you, and I leave it somewhere they’ll find it. I know this is a little unconventional, but I especially do it when I’m a +1 and I know I may never see them again or get their address. I think it’s the best of both worlds: immediacy, surprise, and traditional hand-written.

  13. I send a lot of cards/notes and won’t stop doing it. I think mail is important. :)

  14. Benay says...

    Thank you texts/emails to/from good friends is always appropriate, but I send thank you notes whenever someone hosts a formal meal or it’s a coworker/boss. Super essential.

  15. I reserve thank you notes for special occassions – weddings, bridal/baby showers, etc. In other instances I send a text or sometimes I use an app to send a postcard because I can add a picture from the event. The postcard is more about sending the photo as a momento of our time together than I feel the need to send thanks.

  16. Silvie says...

    It’s so interesting to read all the comments! Where I live, we don’t send thank you cards, except for weddings (and even then it can take months until you get yours – the longest I had to wait was 9 months! Although I have to admit that I was a bit offended, because the couple sent out the first thank you cards 2,5 months after their wedding; it shouldn’t take them this long to send them all.). I would find it very weird if a friend would send me a thank you note, but it’s so interesting to see how important they are in the US! Always learn something new… :)

  17. I love giving and receiving handwritten notes for any occasion, and I hope we’ll never stop doing that! Love opening the mailbox to find a handwritten note among a stack of bills bills and bills. Cheers me up instantly! :)