Graceful Gratitude?
July 29, 2009 12:23 PM   Subscribe

How can I show gratitude in a socially appropriate way?

The husband of a close friend of mine is helping me move house. Considering that moving is a stressful, exhausting activity, I'm overwhelmed by his generosity. In situations like this, I usually embarrass and eventually annoy the recipient of my gratitude by showering them with thanks and gifts. To put it simply, this kind of thing brings out my social awkwardness. How can I show sufficient gratitude, and where do I draw the line?
posted by smilingtiger to Human Relations (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Provide beer and food, a nice bottle of wine for him and your friend for later.

Thank him in the beginning. Thank him in the end.

That's pretty much it.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:24 PM on July 29, 2009 [5 favorites]

people usually are not embarrassed by being thanked, only by being overthanked. just say "Thanks so much for doing this," when he arrives and "Thanks again," when the work's done. So long as you don't get all "Thank you thank you thank you, this means so much to me" every time he picks up a box, it should all be good.

Then, afterwards, buy him a single thank you gift, ideally something consumable like whiskey or beer or cigars or whatever his vice is.
posted by 256 at 12:27 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is typically done by stocking a large cooler (or two) with ice and whatever beverages are desired. Beer is a common one, but various sodas, maybe some mineral waters, etc. Snacks and non-heavy food on hand. Towels are good, too, for wipedowns.

Later on, make something personal. That's the followup. Something you do, yourself. Could be a cake, could be a sweater, could be a website. It's best if it is something for which you have a flair and he's commented on.
posted by adipocere at 12:34 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

My usual thank you is to a) provide pizza and drinks, b) simple thank yous before and after, and c) reciprocating when they need a favour later (either help THEM move, or with some other, similar project that helps reduce their stress).
posted by sandraregina at 12:36 PM on July 29, 2009

Pizza and beer on moving day and a nice note and either a bottle of booze or tickets to a concert or something along those lines.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:37 PM on July 29, 2009

Once I modeled for a friend (as an amateur decent looking girl) in exchange for him helping me move. Next time they need a favor, make sure you're there.
posted by Juliet Banana at 12:40 PM on July 29, 2009

Thank you notes are always appreciated. I would:

a) Thank them verbally when they arrive, and after the work is done.
b) Provide refreshment.
c) Follow up with a note that tells them why their help means something to you.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:42 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yep, whenever he comes over to help, just say "Thank you so much" or "I really appreciate this" in your normal speaking voice, not gushingly. When the job is done, give him a nice gift and a short note or card ("thank you for all your help with my recent move, couldn't have done it without you, love my new place and can't wait to have you and friend over for dinner soon, sincerely, smilingtiger").

In return, help your helpers during the move by staying as organized as you possibly can. Have everything pre-labeled and keep your moving accoutrements (bubble wrap, labels, tape, markers, scissors, directions to the new place, whatever) in a single location, along with cold drinks and some food. I'm still kind of annoyed about the time I showed up with about ten other people to help our friends move the hottest day of the year, and their stuff was only half-packed, lying all over the apartment in random fashion with no direction on what we were actually supposed to be grabbing, no idea where we should be taking it, and the only thing we got in return was a single granola bar and some warm water.
posted by anderjen at 12:46 PM on July 29, 2009

I think most guys in this situation would prefer you express your gratitude via pizza box. And maybe like some wings or something. Does he like wings? You should find out when you ask his wife what his favorite pizza toppings are.
posted by The Straightener at 1:02 PM on July 29, 2009

People have said it before me - food and drink. Money can be a little insulting depending on the relationship you have with this person and if you asked them to help or if they pretty much offered on their own.

In the past when I've been on the receiving end, I treated the helper to all relevant meals (cheapish for breakfast and lunch) while moving and then to a nice meal for dinner after we were finished. In the last case, this meant waffle house and takeout thai, although the time before that was a huge sushi dinner. These are the sort of meals I'd have with this friend normally, but the difference is the fact I'm paying.

Ultimately, a good friend helps you move without really caring about it. Spending time with you is enjoyable, and helping them move is just another way to spend time with your friend. Yeah, there's some physical labor involved, but it's a very satisfying sort of work (at least for me).

Oh, and if you really appreciate the effort, make sure you're fully packed before your friend arrives. That's part of how you show if you respect them (or don't). Leaving things to be wrapped up (or packed) at the last minute is basically saying you don't value the friend's time.
posted by ydant at 1:34 PM on July 29, 2009

Food and drinks is the traditional payment for moving, as others have said.

If you're not comfortable with the idea of getting your girlfriend's husband drunk, you can take them both out to dinner afterward.
posted by rokusan at 2:17 PM on July 29, 2009

i'm going to chime in & agree with most of what folks have already said: simple & basic are the keys to expressing true gratitude in a situation like this - good food, good brew, & straightforward acknowledgment of their generosity & efforts

this isn't the case for everyone, but for many folks generosity is it's own reward - this is not to say that expressed gratitude is not appreciated - just that helping people can feel really really good all by itself

i have always tried to help friends move & i've never really understood other folks reluctance to do so - yes, it's hard work - but also, it can be camaraderie, exercise, & shared memories ("remember that time i dropped the piano on your head? oh mann!!!") - except for one notably disorganized move, i have had a great time every time i've done it - beer & pizza were just icing on the cake
posted by jammy at 2:46 PM on July 29, 2009

People have sort of said this with "make sure you're packed", but beyond that: make sure you're participating, too. By that I mean don't just boss him around. (I estimate I've helped on a dozen moves a year for the past 6 years, so I've seen EVERYTHING.) If he's lifting your couch, you should be lifting your couch too. If it's just the two of you, everything should be as equal as possible.

You are excused from this if you have physical limitations, natch, but airheadedness and indecision and rudeness are not physical.

Personally, I like gatorade + beer during the move, and pizza + more beer after it's all done. A hug if it's appropriate for the friendship. Nothing more. I'd feel weird if I got cigars or a nice meal out of it. Then again, I'm a poor student with poor student friends.
posted by knile at 4:00 PM on July 29, 2009

I'd feel weird if I got cigars or a nice meal out of it. Then again, I'm a poor student with poor student friends.

That's the thing, I guess - different people have different weirdness meters. I'd like to get my friend's husband a special gift (see question) but I'm pretty sure it would be awkward, and he might even feel weird about dinner at a restaurant (although those are excellent suggestions and would probably make someone else very happy). Pizza, beer in a cooler, towels, and having everything packed and organized are slam dunks.

Thanks for all the great answers - no bests here - gatorade's on me! :)
posted by smilingtiger at 4:49 PM on July 29, 2009

« Older It's Business Time   |   Walk from Moscow to Istanbul? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.