Question: Is failure to send thank you cards socially acceptable or an etiquette faux pas?
Today we are living in a much less formal world. There was a day when etiquette required thank you cards for service given. While these are still nice items in a more casual society, these courtesies appear to have gone away.
The origin of sending cards dates back to the Chinese and Egyptians, which were written on papyrus paper. In the 1400s historians note the Europeans hand delivered social notes to their family and friends. Greeting cards and thank you cards were introduced to America in 1858 by a German immigrant named Pouis Prang. That practice has continued to this day.
Positive aspects of sending or receiving thank you cards you may have overlooked.
- Physical. A card received in the mail can be held tightly, read and re-read, examined, stored and cherished. I had a friend who loved the excitement of receiving the card before she actually opened and read it. She would place her unopened card in her back pocket and periodically pull it out throughout the day to look at it in anticipation of what it might say, and then return it back to its secure place. She could drag this out for hours before actually opening her cherished card. If the sender only knew what an impact that card was on her life. A written note can be held and re-read long after a verbal thank you has been said.
- Emotional. Everyone loves the feeling that comes from being appreciated, loved, and recognized. Although you may intellectually know that, a written note leaves no doubt. Or you may have no idea how your gift or actions have been noticed and appreciated unless the sender actually follows through with that written note. Psychologists have pointed out the simple act of verbalizing your words actually brings relationships closer. It is an exercise in showing gratitude, a principle that is just as beneficial to the sender as well as the receiver.
- Social. In today’s world, our style has become less formal but a thank you card is always in order for a kindness extended and a gift received. The Emily Post Institute states that it is never wrong to send a written thank you. In fact, not sending wedding thank you cards after the effort of shopping for the perfect gift, not to mention the expense, can be the end of a friendly relationship. It helps keep you in touch and can brighten someone’s day.
- When. A genuine thank you is always in style – all year long. A sincere thank you for recent Christmas gifts, acknowledgement of all those life milestones, such as birthdays, weddings, graduation, baby showers, retirement, or a special thank you for acts of kindness that have been bestowed upon you. In the business world, proper etiquette is also remembered and appreciated.
- Where. Mail will reach you anywhere and the card and message wait to be read. It doesn’t get lost or deleted from the email box or forget to pass the compliment.