The yearly thank you card debacle

Thank you cardI’m not a harsh parent, I don’t think (well, English Dad is always telling me I’m too soft), but I do like my children to be polite.  They’re really lucky in that they have a pretty large (and slightly fragmented) family, so they get pressies from all over the place, and even if it’s just a tenner in a card, I do like them to say thanks.

Trouble is, we get later and later, and it causes more and more hassle and nagging (on my part) and annoyance (on theirs) every year.  My nephew and niece, lovely Turtle and Jackson, are a pretty good alarm system for thank you cards.  When theirs drop through the letterbox, regular as clockwork, in about mid-January, it’s my signal to go hell for leather at the ‘HAVE YOU DONE YOUR THANK YOUS YET?’ reminders, generally yelled from the bottom of the stairs in the direction of closed bedroom doors.  And so it goes on.

Them: ‘Lucky I spent my HMV vouchers before they went bust…’

Me: ‘That reminds me, have you sent your thank you cards yet’

Them: ‘Sigh, I’ll do them tomorrow…’


Them: ‘This is the t-shirt I got for Christmas’

Me: ‘That reminds me, have you sent your thank you cards yet?’

Them: ‘Sigh, yeah I’ll do them later..’

Frankly, it makes us all a bit stabby.

This year, we’ve negotiated a few ‘modern’ changes, including:

  • If they’re friends with the present giver on Facebook, they can say thank you via Facebook message.  
  • If the person who gave them a present has children for whom we buy presents and that don’t send a thank you, then they’re let off with the verbal thank you (the ‘they don’t thank us so why should we thank them?’ rule).
  • If they opened the present in front of the person and said thank you PROPERLY, then we’ll accept that as enough.
  • With Grandparents and those of the non-electronic variety, it HAS to be a thank you card. It must be written nicely, it must acknowledge what the present was, and it must be done, preferably, before about June.


Am I being old fashioned?  Is the time of the thank you card gone, along with letter writing and licking stamps?

Anyone got any tips or opinions on the matter?

17 replies
  1. D.D
    D.D says:

    Yes,but what about the thanks for the thank you card? I would bet that all of the parents now complaining about inconsiderant offspring can remember when they were kids and had better things to do than write appreciative cards.I can well remember one such young madam !

  2. Keris Stainton
    Keris Stainton says:

    I’m in two minds about this. I do like the idea of thank you cards and think it’s good manners, but I’ve never had a single thank you card from any adult in my family and yet the expectation is that the children must send them. What’s that about, eh?

  3. Ian
    Ian says:

    We’ve gone electronic, I get the boy to make a thank you note, we scan and send it to everyone. Out of minimum courtesy.

    As a child – and still as an adult – I said tell them not to send me a present if all they want is a thank you. And I meant it. It’s all about politeness, and how the gifter feels. The whole present giving thank you cycle is ridiculous. But it’s a practice that isn’t about to change.

    Nor am I.

    Mr Grumpy

  4. simone
    simone says:

    Hello :)

    Isn’t it sad when a written card is considered or thought of as “old-fashioned”?! :(

    I am totally in favour of thank you cards. I think it’s just good manners – and those never go out of fashion (I’m sounding like my mother!!)

    My children write them every year and haven’t complained yet – but they’re not teenagers so I appreciate my battle is much easier than yours :)

    Is it okay to say that I think a thank-you text is just not right or enough?

    Hope you’re well,
    Simone X

  5. English Grandma
    English Grandma says:

    Dare I contribute to these comments? I do agree with ‘nuttycow’ – written notes and cards are treasured and read again and again – however I did have some very loving and personal thank yous, and modern texts – I do have to move with the times!

  6. The40yearold
    The40yearold says:

    A subject very close to my heart at the moment. We are still battling with the Christmas thank you’s and have since had a 2year olds birthday and party and a 5 year olds birthday and party. Admittedly, they are not of an age where they “do” their own cards, but my 5 year old can write if we provide the necessary text for her to copy and it has been such a long winded process that the last few cards I’ve written, just getting her to write her name at the bottom.
    My sister keeps telling me she doesnt need thank you cards, but I think if someone has taken the trouble to go out and purchase a present and as my children are thoroughly spoiled in the process, the least they could do is write a formal thank you.
    Not sure if I’ll change those rules when they get to the same age as your children. We’ll see!!
    *heads off to buy more bloody thank you cards*

  7. Sarahffelan
    Sarahffelan says:

    Haha I can completely relate! The longer it drags on the worse it gets. Ours were embarrassingly late last year & this year had stupid idea of getting eldest to ‘design’ the card so now have half drawn picture!

    But I’m going to stick to my guns -not old fashioned, especially for the older gift givers (like grannies & aunts) who’ll really appreciate it. I’m quite shocked these days how few people send thank you cards.

    I have resolved to be one of those people who sends thank you cards after overnight stays with friends but as yet haven’t produced anything beyond a hungover text message. Must try harder!
    Stick to your guns!! X

  8. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    I imagine that every household everywhere is having the same debate! I am old school and think that a thank you letter still has it’s place and is polite. We don’t always get them back but I think it is a tradition which is important to keep up and teaches my children good manners. This gets harder as they get older and we only did ours yesterday! I literally have to sit them down and put the card in front of them to write! I think it’s important for the older generation and even for younger people, it’s lovely to receive a handwritten letter. Like you though, we do have slacker rules – if you opened the present in front of the person, the thank you was done there and then and that is good enough!

  9. nuttycow
    nuttycow says:

    I’m old fashioned, I think written thank you notes are one of the nicest things you can receive (see also bread and butter letters when you stay at someone’s house). There’s something very personal and charming about it.

    That said, I’ve just remembered I didn’t write my B&B to someone I stayed with in November. Bugger.

  10. Anne Speak
    Anne Speak says:

    Had to gently remind 18 year old that he owed a god father a thank you but agreed electronic was OK. Have been slack this year but you have prompted me to chase the boys this evening. Would hate them to be disinherited because they were lazy teenagers! Let’s face it they are happy to receive the gifts so they should send thank yous.


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