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April 27, 2008 / Amanda Jakl

A Great Example of “What Not To Do” in Thank You Note Writing

I was reading Dear Abby today and came across this mortifying example of thank you card writing, or should I say lack of writing. I’ve included a link and pasted it here since I think it’s worth reading. Read it for yourself:

DEAR ABBY: A friend and I attended a bridal shower of a friend’s daughter. After the young woman opened her gifts, we were escorted to another room where blank note cards were strewn on a coffee table, surrounded by envelopes and stamps. The hostess instructed us to write on these folded cards our names and what we had given the bride-to-be.

The hostess told us to write: “Dear Mary (using our own names, of course), Thank you for the nice afghan” (or whatever we had given), and place the card in one of the envelopes. We were then told to address and stamp the envelopes, but not to seal them so (I assume) the “too busy” bride-to-be could sign her name.

As I foolishly followed these ridiculous instructions, I was tempted to thank myself for the 30-minute drive I had made in each direction to purchase a gift, and the 45-minute drive I made to attend the shower.

How stupid are we going to feel when the “thank-yous,” in our own handwriting, show up in the mail? My son says I should refuse the letter.

And do you want to know the “topper”? I asked the bride-to-be before leaving when her wedding was. Get this — it’s in two days. I am not even invited to the wedding!

What’s wrong with this generation? Please shed some light on this. Thanks, Abby. I feel better now that I’ve vented — stupid, but better. — FEELING USED IN KANSAS

DEAR FEELING USED: Nothing is wrong with “this generation.” What you have described is a family that never learned basic good manners. Rather than an “afghan” — or whatever your gift was — the bride-to-be would have been better served to have received a book on etiquette.

I understand the craziness surrounding a wedding and the showers that go with it. Many things happen in a very short period of time. But weddings end, life goes back to normal and people will remember how tactless you were. I made my husband help me fill out thank you notes on the flight to our honeymoon destination. We finished all of them in two hours.

While I like the idea of people filling out their own address on the envelope, I draw the line at writing your own thank you note. It defeats the whole purpose of writing a note in the first place. A thank you note is supposed to express gratitude to the giver while also showing how gracious the receiver is. It might sound pompous, but a thank you card is a two-way street. And the bride in the Dear Abby column made it a one-way dead end. It only showed how discourteous she is and how little she thinks of her guests.

My only complaint is how mild mannered Dear Abby’s response was. This is
something that shouldn’t be happening. Then again, how do you confront something like this while being discreet? What would you do? Leave a suggestion in comments. I’d love to know what you think.



Leave a Comment
  1. Vel / Apr 28 2008 9:23 am

    I was shocked when I read the column. Maybe the bride knew nothing about it and it was the hostesses’ idea? Whoever thought of it really did get it all wrong. I agree that I have seen the idea of addressing your own envelope before, but this was at a baby shower of a friend that was expecting twins. I showed the column to my husband and we both agreed that we might write something rather funny or even sarcastic in the card for example; “I can’t thank you enough for the fabulous wine glasses (gift). It was very thoughtful. To extend our thanks we would like to take you and your husband out for dinner when we return from our honeymoon! Just let us know when it would work best for you.” For the more sarcastic response maybe write “Thank you for the fabulous wine glasses (gift). They are beautiful. We will miss seeing you at the wedding. Enough said.

  2. impossiblegift / Apr 28 2008 2:01 pm

    I love your ideas! Let’s just hope that the bride-to-be actually reads them before signing and mailing them. Then again, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had someone else sign them for her too.

    Thanks for reading!

    (im)possible gift

  3. Julie / Jun 6 2008 12:33 pm

    How absolutely rude is that! Okay, okay, so the request for guests to address their own cards
    is tacky but forgivable. However, asking guests to actually write their own thank you cards shows the utmost in poor taste and a TOTAL lack of gratitude. Such a stunt makes no sense whatsover. She may as well have sent no thank you cards at all, rather than waste money on cards and postage to send meaningless thank yous to her guests. The nerve of some people!

  4. Julie / Jun 6 2008 12:46 pm

    Also, if the “bride-to-be” cannot handle all the obvious responsibilities that accompany having a sizeable shower, wedding, etc., perhaps she should have just had a very small and intimate wedding for the immediate families of the bride and groom and be done with it.

    Or, she should have enlisted the help of someone close to help her with addressing and mailing thank you notes, and even keeping track of who sent what in the way of gifts.

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