Is a "thank you" expected for a greeting card?
June 29, 2013 1:21 PM   Subscribe

If I get a greeting card in the mail, am I expected to reach out and say "thank you" right away, or is it OK to wait until I happen to come into contact with them? If I forget to say it when I see them, is this something that somebody would be offended by?

Lately, my husband and I have been getting a lot of greeting cards in the mail. I'm pregnant and we just went through Mothers Day and Fathers Day, so people have been very thoughtfully sending us cards for those occasions. The cards don't contain any gifts and I'm not expecting them to. I just think that's worth mentioning because if there were gifts enclosed I would, without question, reach out to say thank you right away.

I thought we were doing OK with our method of saying thank you when we saw the person next, but my mom commented that my husband never thanked her for the Fathers Day card she sent him. He hasn't seen her in over a month, so I wouldn't have thought it was expected that he would have to have done so by this point.

I've also been wondering if somebody sends a card, and you don't see them for a while and forget to say thank you when you finally DO see them, is that something somebody would be offended by?

So, am I supposed to be reaching out to people to say thank you for cards? We're all in the US and are from here, if that makes a difference.

Thanks for you input!
posted by smirkyfodder to Human Relations (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can just text them like "thanks for the card"!

If you wait till you see them again, you could wait a lifetime.
posted by tel3path at 1:23 PM on June 29, 2013

I think a quick "got your card, thanks!" email, text, or phone call - depending on who sent it and how you normally communicate with them - is the "proper" thing. If only because you don't want them to be wondering if the card ever got there. I put "proper" in quotes because I don't actually know, but that's what my mom taught me and I still do it.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 1:25 PM on June 29, 2013 [6 favorites]

I can confirm, what DestinationUnknown said is the "proper" thing.
posted by tel3path at 1:42 PM on June 29, 2013

I was raised (in the U.S.) by a mother who required me to write thank you notes for any gifts, but I have never heard of sending thanks for a greeting card. If it contained cash, a check, or gift card, sure. But sending a thank you note for a greeting card seems totally unnecessary. Thanking the person when you see them next is frankly more thoughtful than I would be. Your mother is being a bit unreasonable, in my opinion.
posted by Snerd at 1:44 PM on June 29, 2013 [5 favorites]

DestinationUnknown is correct. If it's just a card (no gift certificate, money, etc.) enclosed, I say "I got your card! It's lovely/made me smile/etc.!" via text, email or Facebook wall post.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 1:51 PM on June 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I send stuff in the mail all the time. I put thought into sending silly cards and getting things organized so they arrive on time. It drives me bonkers when people never acknowledge getting things in the mail! I certainly don't expect a letter or even a full email, but a quick text, IM or Facebook message makes all the difference. If you see them within the same week, sure, mention it in person. But if you wait a month, are you really going to say, "Hey, thanks for that Mother's day card 6 weeks ago! It was so sweet!"? I can't remember what happened yesterday, let alone 6 weeks ago.

Short, sweet and prompt is the answer.

Think of it as putting goodwill in the babysitting bank ;-)
posted by barnone at 2:07 PM on June 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I may be generalizing a bit here, but all of the people I know who take the time to send real cards -- not online cards -- but real cards, usually prefer to be thanked ASAP after the card is received. Some people are fine with a quick email or text, but others (like certain friends, co-workers or faraway relatives) really want and expect either a phone call or a simple letter of acknowledgement. Some people really do put a lot of thought into the cards they choose to send and it saddens them when the recipient doesn't even let them know they appreciated it. Since I'm not a mind reader and don't know who prefers what -- just to be on the safe side -- I always send a quick, simple letter saying "Thank you for the sweet card! Blah, blah, blah..." It only takes a few minutes and I feel it's the least I can do for someone who has been keeping me in their thoughts and took the time to pick out and send me a card in the first place. (It's also a good excuse to use up all of those stupid, oddball postage stamps I've got lying around.)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 5:41 PM on June 29, 2013

First of all, I agree with others that a greeting card with nothing inside generally doesn't require more than a casual thank you at the next encounter, though the sooner the better to let them know the card actually arrived. The post office can be flaky.

That said, it sounds like you've been in touch with your mother since Father's Day, even if your husband hasn't? In which case, she may have thought you would have said something on his behalf: "Husband says thank you for the Father's Day card, by the way." Then he can follow up the next time he communicates with her personally.
posted by asciident at 7:54 PM on June 29, 2013

It seems to me that if a greeting card requires a written note, then you never get out of the chain of sending notes and letters and cards back and forth. But then most of the people I know who send lots of greeting cards send pretty darn generic ones, with nothing inside but a signature.

However, I do think it's nice to take 'getting a card' as 'reminder to call'. I can't say I do it myself, though, or that it's a 'must' - just that, hey, now you know your mom wants you to, so why not.
posted by Lady Li at 9:50 PM on June 29, 2013

Emily Post says that you're always supposed to send a card thanking people for their generosity, so I'd recommend that you take out some of your plain Jane stationary and thank them for thinking of you. You don't have to write a novel to show people that you appreciate their going out of their way for you.
posted by lotusmish at 11:05 PM on June 29, 2013

Nthing I go nuts when I go through the effort of ever-so-thoughtfully selecting and sending a greeting card to a friend or family member for whatever occasion only to not hear back from that person that they received the card and thanks.

It may be a bit self centered (the act of sending a card isn't really to make ME feel good) but if I go through all that trouble, a simple "cute card, thank you!" text is all I need to feel appreciated. Also to maintain faith in the post office to deliver my mail in a timely manner.

Of course I'm not getting upset with anyone... Just sometimes I send a card specifically to reach out to someone and it makes me sad to not hear back.
posted by ista at 5:24 AM on June 30, 2013

Response by poster: These are helpful answers. I feel like sending a quick text, email, or Facebook message sounds like the right move. Writing a note of thanks for a card seems like a bit too much to me, especially when nobody has even written any message in the card.
posted by smirkyfodder at 5:44 AM on June 30, 2013

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