Even in this modern age of e-mail and cell phones, there are still some occasions when a paper note is the most polite medium for a message. You wouldn’t text the invitations to a formal wedding, would you? Well, like wedding invitations, thank you cards are also ideally made out of paper. Making the extra effort to write a personal message on a card and place it in the mail shows that you really appreciate a gift or thoughtful gesture. Although some people might not expect thank you cards, if you send them, nobody will be offended. Some people may even be pleasantly surprised, and your grandma won’t have to wonder whether you ever received the gift she mailed.
One challenge that you may face when it comes to sending thank you cards is that you might not have mailing addresses for all of your friends and family. If you have their e-mail addresses, though, you can always request their mailing addresses that way. One “Dear Abby” reader suggested a clever and efficient way to obtain addresses for baby shower thank you cards: Ask each guest to write his or her address on an index card, along with their guess about the baby’s length and weight, so that the person whose guess was the closest can receive a prize. Of course, this also ensures that all the guests can receive thank you cards as well. And once you get their addresses, hang onto them, so you’ll have them in case you need to send any of these people thank you cards for something else in the future.
Ideally, thank you cards should address the recipient by name, and include a handwritten sentence or two to acknowledge the specific gift and say something nice about it if possible. E.g. Thank you for the cute pink umbrella. Your timing couldn’t be better; my old one was on its last legs. If you receive a lot of gifts at once, and might have trouble remembering who gave you what, try tucking the gift tag or card into the box or bag with each gift, so that you can make a list later on. Alternately, at parties such as baby showers or wedding showers, you could get a friend to help you by jotting down a list as you go.
When it comes time to select the cards, you can always pick up a box of innocuous thank you cards or blank cards at the nearest drugstore. Stationery stores or greeting card stores will, of course, have a better selection. You may even be able to find wedding thank you cards or baby shower thank you cards in addition to the generic varieties. It is also possible to order personalised thank you cards online. Photo thank you cards are a popular choice for occasions when you need to thank a lot of people who attended the same event. A picture taken at the event can turn thank you cards into keepsakes. Some wedding photographers even include wedding photo thank you cards in their catalog of services. Vendors who sell wedding stationery tend to offer thank you cards (and other items) that match their various styles of wedding invitations, too.
The best time to send thank you cards is as soon as possible. Sometimes, though, life gets hectic. If you have trouble getting cards out in a reasonable time frame, it can help to keep a box of blank thank you cards and a package of stamps on hand, so that you won’t be delayed by the need to run to the store and the post office. For most purposes, sending a thank you card within two weeks of a receiving gift or thoughtful gesture is perfectly reasonable. If you receive gifts at your wedding, though, you can take a little longer – up to a month – to get those thank you cards in the mail. People understand that you probably have a lot of people to thank, and they don’t expect you to spend your honeymoon writing thank you notes.