Wednesday, May 12, 2010

how do you say thank you?

This article on the New York Times' style blog caught my eye the other week. It's about how people say thank you, be it a gift, mailed note, email, or horror of horrors, Facebook message. Snobby and pretentious the story may be ("Flowers—now considered amateurish pre-party gifts because they a) smell of a hasty trip to the Korean deli and b) force a hostess to scurry for a vase and rapidly marshal Martha Stewart skills she may not have—seem to be more welcome in the aftermath."), the writer, Alexandra Jacobs, brings up some interesting points. She focuses mainly on dinner parties and thinks that formal, handwritten thank you notes are making a comeback, even though some people dislike them, saying that they are "predictable," take too long to arriveand our old favorite!make people feel guilty.

What do you think? I agree with one of the people interviewed in the article that saying thank you, no matter how, is the most important thing. Small gifts upon arrival like a bottle of wine, or, yes, bodega flowers are always nice, but it's extra thoughtful to send a note the next day. I like sending (and receiving) email because it seems looser, friendlier. Putting pen to paper requires more effort, and somehow creates a more forced missive. "Dear Grandma, thank you for the Christmas sweater. I love it very much."

Plus snail mail does take a really long time to arrive. I always imagine my friends and family wondering why I didn't thank them for the lovely spread/gift/other nice thing while my letter bounces around in transit for a week.

But there was one rare occasion when my friend Sarah sent me, somehow very speedily, a handwritten note thanking me for a very casual supper. This meal certainly didn't deserve sacrificing a stamp, but getting the card and seeing her handwriting meant so much to me. It made my own efforts seem more special.

So maybe there is something to a handwritten note. What say you?

5 comments:

latenac said...

I like to bring a little gift if I can and we definitely e-mail afterwards.

However, I actually prefer handwritten note if I can get my act together. But maybe it's b/c I live in Vermont and if I mail something within Vermont before 5pm it arrives the next day. So if we go to a dinner on Friday, I mail a note on Saturday it's their mailbox on Monday brightening up their Monday.

Lisa said...

latenac: Next day? Wow, that is amazing! (And so thoughtful of you.)

Daniel said...

I have sent my comment responding to this post by standard mail. Please use the enclosed SASE to indicate that you received it.

Tender Branson said...

I like the handwritten notes, for some reason I just can't enjoy email as much. But there are cases where you just have to do it with email. Most important, like you said, is just saying thank you in whatever the way.

Pink of Perfection said...

That was not a stamp sacrifice! First of all, you introduced me to my new favorite tuna, and secondly, well, I was thanking you for so much more than dinner.

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