Should You Send Thank You Notes For Gifts?

I went to college with a guy that has been a fairly good friend for quite a number of years.  We keep in touch regularly.  He played in the fantasy football league that I ran for eight years.  He lives pretty close by.  We met his girlfriend, who later became his wife, and we felt like we might have the option of developing a good friendship with this couple.  They were fun and friendly, and when they started their family not too long after ours, it seemed even more of a potential match since having the kids play together is always a good catalyst for family friendships.

Unfortunately it hasn’t really worked out as we might have thought.

We still get together with them and see them socially, but that closer friendship hasn’t really developed.  And, it’s all because of the habits coming down to the couple saying thank you.

Or rather, the fact that they don’t.

We’ve given several gifts to their young child, one time when they came over to our house for dinner and we were introduced to the baby for the first time, and another at his first birthday, and neither time did we receive any sort of thank you note.

Habit Forming

As a kid, it was instilled into me at a pretty early age that I should send a thank you note for a gift that I received.  After receiving gifts for Christmas or my birthday, at some point in the following several weeks, I was expected to sit down and write a small note thanking my aunt or grandma or whoever for the nice gift.

I realize now that it wasn’t so much about sending the gift or writing the right words as it was about my parents teaching me proper manners.

My wife must have learned the same habits because she naturally writes out thank you notes any time that the kids get a present.  Little Boy Beagle, who is three and a half, even ‘writes’ his name on them now, and the thought is that when they get old enough, they’ll be expected to write them and send them out themselves.

But, the couple in question has never sent a thank you note.  I would even accept something on Facebook or an e-mail.  In one case, the birthday party, they had it at a facility where the kids could play in bounce houses, and because of the short window, they didn’t even open the gifts in front of their guests.  I don’t have a problem with the fact that they didn’t open the gifts, but you would think that they would provide some sort of acknowledgement of having received the gift.

I’m trying to think of reasons on why they might not send out a gift.

They didn’t know?  My father-in-law suggested that, if neither of them were raised to send out thank you notes, maybe they see it as perfectly normal to collect gifts without writing thank you notes.  In fairness, they did send out thank you notes for the wedding gift that we gave them, but I know wedding thank yous are a little more known.

I don’t know if I necessarily see this as an excuse but I’ll ask readers, is this one that maybe should be given a little more consideration or should they have learned by now to send out thank you notes.

They didn’t like the gift?  For the gift that we gave them when we first met the baby, my wife created something she’s given out multiple times, a personalized frame with the baby’s birth details.  It’s a new thing that everybody else we’ve given it to has gushed over, but maybe it didn’t fit their style or they didn’t think much of it.

Even if they didn’t like the gift, is that an excuse to negate sending a thank you card?  I always thought that you were thanking the person for the thought that they put into the gift as much as you are the gift itself.

Are we expecting something that we shouldn’t? Maybe the issue is on us. Maybe receiving a thank you note is something beyond what we should be expecting.

I just don’t believe this though.  We know a lot of friends, many of whom have had babies that we’ve exchanged gifts with either as newborns, for first birthdays, or the like.  In every other case, we’ve received thank you notes after having given a gift.

It got lost in the mail?  Maybe they did send a thank you and we never received it.  I could see this happening maybe once, but twice?  I think it’s probably a fair assumption that it never got sent.  Now, we do have a friend in common, and I’ve been tempted to ask whether they received a thank you, but I never have simply because I don’t want to even bring the chance of it getting back to the couple.  That’s not our goal.

What’s the big deal?

I don’t want to drop these people as friends, and I don’t want to make a mountain out of a mole hill, so I wonder, are we overreacting?  Or does it speak to something about the type of friends that we want to have (and that we want our kids to have) by getting bothered by this?  Our thought is that we will continue to be social with them but as far as trying to develop a friendship where we see each other outside of birthday parties or the like, it’s not as high on our agenda as it might have been a while back.

I don’t know all their is to know about manners and ettiquite, nor do I want to. I’ve never considered myself a person who would describe themselves as ‘proper’ but at the same time, when someone goes out of their way to do something for me or my family, whether it be by offering their time, their money, or a gift, I try to express my gratitude and thanks.  I’m sure that I’ve failed to do so at times, but when it becomes a regular thing, it seems hard to blame it on an oversight.

Readers, what do you think of our thoughts on this matter? Do you notice if you don’t receive a thank you note or some expression of gratitude after a gift is given?