Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Thank you. No, Thank YOU. No, THANK YOU!

My girlfriends helped write my blog this week by giving me questions they had about thank you's and emails - I've researched everything and below are the answers.  (And, if you have, by chance, been to a dinner party at my house in the last week, this is NOT FOR YOU!  How awkward!  I am asking you all NOT to write a thank you, OK? :) )

Q: Is email an accepted form of a thank you?
A: When someone gives you a present, or....when you are a houseguest at someone's home (with the exception of a kids' sleepover), or.....when you've
attended a dinner party, or.....when someone has done something to make your life easier.....a hand written thank you note is your way of telling the person how much you really appreciate their th0ughtfulness.  Even though it is easier to email the sentiment, if the person took the time to hand-pick a gift or plan a beautiful dinner, then you should show always them the courtesy of taking the time to write them a hand-written thank you note.   If someone mails you a gift, a nice gesture would be to let the person know by email that the gift arrived (my mother always reminds me of that), but a follow-up hand-written thank you is really the considerate thing to do.
P.S. Please send a thank you note as quickly as possible - usually within 1 or 2 days is common courtesy.  And, if you think it's too late to write a thank you note because you've waited too long - you're wrong!  It is never too late!
P.P.S. And, if you are writing a thank you note for a job interview, you should absolutely use the real mail.  These days, a hand-written note delivered through the U.S. Post means that what you are saying is really important  or really personal.   It definitely stands out.

Q: If someone offers to pay for a dinner, should you insist on paying or let them pay?
A: Usually, the rule to follow is that the person who does the inviting is the person who pays.  This is definitely the case in a social or business setting.  So if you are the one inviting, expect to pay and you should do this without hesitation.  If you are the person who was invited, offer to chip in. If the person insists on paying, let it go and offer to pay the next time - and then do so!  The person will appreciate the gesture that evening - and even more so, the night you pay!  If someone invites you to an event, you can always say, "May I take you to dinner before or after the event?"  But ALWAYS communicate early on in the evening.  At the time that the bill comes to the table is not necessarily the time to talk about who pays.  If you know it might come up, talk about the issue ahead of time  so that you can enjoy the evening without worrying about the moment.  Your dinner companion will appreciate your consideration.

Q: When is it ok to email an invitation?
A: If you really want to know that someone received an invitation, it is still appropriate to send a written invitation or do so with a phone call.  An emailed invitation is acceptable, but you can't always be sure you have the person's correct email or that they check that email account.  So, if you do send an invitation by email, make sure you ask for an RSVP and not Regrets Only.  That way you'll know if they received the invitation.  Invitations to more formal events such as weddings are still considered to be so important that a written invitation is the correct way.  Responding to an invitation by mail should then be done so by mail. And even a middle schooler is old enough to do this.  If it's an informal event, you do not even need to mention an excuse - you can say either "I'm really looking forward to your party on (date)." Or, "I am so sorry I won't be able to come to your party on (date). "  Of course, a formal invitation to a wedding, etc., needs to be answered with a specific formal reply - and we can address that one another time.

Q: Do you need to write a thank you note for a hostess gift?
A: One of the benefits of being licensed by the Emily Post Institute is that I can go right to the source when I have an etiquette question or emergency. :)  I started reading in their different publications that, yes, you should write a note, but I wasn't sure that was still really true.  So I emailed them yesterday and the response I got was surprising, but I'm sharing it with you.  The answer is that it is never wrong to send a thank you note.  It is always memorable and appreciated.  If you are able to open the hostess gift on the spot and your appreciation is expressed sincerely in person, then that is enough.  However, if the gift is not opened, you really should send a thank you note.

More next week! Have a great long weekend!


  1. so helpful,Jill!!

  2. I always learn so much from you!

  3. Jill,

    I just love your blog! The girls and I are learning something every week. Love, Kim

  4. Hi Jill,
    How funny that I just saw you and picked your brains on the exact subject of thanking for thank yous!!! Now I know I need to subscribe. The world needs you1



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