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Etiquette

Thank You Note vs. Thank You Phone Call....thoughts?

Hi everyone!  I'm a longtime lurker and I've made a comment or two, but this is my first post. 

From reading for such a long time, I know how important thank you notes are not just for wedding and shower gifts, but all gifts!  I was wondering though what everyone's thoughts were on receiving a phone call of thanks instead of a thank you note.  I know some people like thank you notes because the receiver isn't just thanking you, but also letting you know that they got your gift.  Since a phone call of thanks would do the same thing, would you be upset if you didn't receive a card as well?  Personally I would not (I would be happy with a thank you text too, but that's just me!), but I was curious what you all thought!

(Note: I write thank you notes so this isn't a post trying to justify poor etiquette or anything like that, this is just purely out of curiosity and work boredom!)
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Re: Thank You Note vs. Thank You Phone Call....thoughts?

  • I much prefer the personal effort taken to make a phone call. To call, you actually have to make time in a schedule to call whereas with a card you can write them whenever, which makes them impersonal to me. So for the actual personal connection, phone calls are so much better than thank you notes.

    But that said, thank you notes are so engrained in wedding etiquette that some people really get their knickers in a knot if they don't get the card... even if you thanked them in person or on the phone.

    It is really silly to have to thank people twice, but unfortunately it's expected when it comes to weddings for many people. But I think that's changing, most people I know prefer a face to face or phone call for that personal thank you instead of a piece of (folded, pretty) paper.

  • wmam35 said:

    Hi everyone!  I'm a longtime lurker and I've made a comment or two, but this is my first post. 


    From reading for such a long time, I know how important thank you notes are not just for wedding and shower gifts, but all gifts!  I was wondering though what everyone's thoughts were on receiving a phone call of thanks instead of a thank you note.  I know some people like thank you notes because the receiver isn't just thanking you, but also letting you know that they got your gift.  Since a phone call of thanks would do the same thing, would you be upset if you didn't receive a card as well?  Personally I would not (I would be happy with a thank you text too, but that's just me!), but I was curious what you all thought!

    (Note: I write thank you notes so this isn't a post trying to justify poor etiquette or anything like that, this is just purely out of curiosity and work boredom!)
    It sounds like you already know the answer.  Written thank you notes are indeed the correct way to show your appreciation for a gift.  My 5 year old niece is learning to write them for her birthday gifts at the moment, which is very cute.  

    Reaching out to someone by phone is also a nice gesture but shouldn't be done in place of a written thank-you.  

    Not to raise the roof to myself but my mom was very proud when so many of the women who attended my shower mentioned what nice, personal thank-you notes I had written them. I hadn't seen a lot of those women in a long time (I live out of state) and I put a lot of thought and effort into the notes.  A phone call wouldn't have taken that much time or effort at all.  My mom put a lot of work into the shower and I think that she appreciated me taking the time to properly thank our guests.  

    The advice in the first comment is just wrong.  To assert that the effort it takes to make a phone call vs. writing a thoughtful note is greater b/c the call has to be scheduled is laughable.  Complete logic fail.

    Go with your instinct on this, written thank you notes are a must to show your appreciation for your gifts.  
    RezIpsanovella1186mrsdee15
  • @notdoingitbythebook - I don't understand how TY notes are "impersonal", but OK...

    OP - I would rather get a TY note. When DH and I attend a wedding or a shower, the gift comes from both of us. Unless we're both together and available to take a phone call, it's harder to thank both givers. And that's just two of us, if a family gives a gift or people go in on a gift together, it's even harder to thank all people. And "let them know I said thanks" doesn't really cut it IMO.
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    RezIpsa
  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.
  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield
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    Send a note as soon as possible. I sent my thank you notes 2 days after my wedding, before we went on our honeymoon and my mom got so many texts/messages saying how nice is was to receive a thank you note so quickly and how refreshing it was.

    Notes are the only way to go. 

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    RezIpsanovella1186
  • larrygagalarrygaga Czechoslovakia
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    edited May 2015
    I prefer a call but only because I like to save paper and chat with people.

    However, I think you should play it safe and write notes. If you really apprciated the gift, you would put the work in to write notes. It's not about being personal or not, it's about the effort you put into thanking people. 
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  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
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    @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.

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    Kahlylalyndausvithespeshulestsnowflake
  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
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    mikenbergerRezIpsanovella1186MairePoppy
  • edited May 2015

    @flantastic The conversation after the initial thank you is what makes it more personal to me. I want to catch up with Aunt Bessie about life after whatever event happened that precipitated the thank you note. Chat with her, find out what's going on with her on top of thanking her (probably again, since I thank people in person at the time of the event).

    Yes, you can (and should) personalize a thank you note, that's definitely the right way to do it. I just feel it is MORE personal to actually pick up the phone to thank someone or to thank them face to face than to sit down to write a thank you note.

    I have and will be writing thank you notes for all wedding activities that require them. I understand that it is an expectation that I cannot get out of. I will fulfill it even though my preference is to be more face to face and intimate with whoever should get a thank you card.

  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    To me, the fact that you can write thank you cards at your convenience makes a card less personable than taking the time out of your schedule and the other person to track them down and actually have a conversation. That is the difference in my mind. Yes, a thank you card can be personalised but it can be done whenever you want. A phone call needs to happen at certain times of the day, which means you have to make an effort to make that phone call happen.
  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
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    The conversation after the initial thank you is what makes it more personal to me. I want to catch up with Aunt Bessie about life after whatever event happened that precipitated the thank you note. Chat with her, find out what's going on with her on top of thanking her (probably again, since I thank people in person at the time of the event).

    Yes, you can (and should) personalize a thank you note, that's definitely the right way to do it. I just feel it is MORE personal to actually pick up the phone to thank someone or to thank them face to face than to sit down to write a thank you note.

    I have and will be writing thank you notes for all wedding activities that require them. I understand that it is an expectation that I cannot get out of. I will fulfill it even though my preference is to be more face to face and intimate with whoever should get a thank you card.

    Can I honestly as you WHY are you having a wedding? You seem to hate everything that has to do with the wedding culture. 

    "Receiving lines are a tradition I will not be partaking in. I hate them."
    "Showers are an estrogen fest and why would I do that?"

    etc. etc. etc. Why not just go elope somewhere with just you and your FI?

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    KatWAGmrsdee15thespeshulestsnowflake
  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    I'm sorry, but this literally makes no sense at all.  You seem clearly "turned off" in some way by proper etiquette and are trying to justify breaking the rules all over the place for one reason or another.  

    When you write a note is certainly at your discretion (within a certain period of time after the gift-giving event) but to try to assert that a phone call is somehow more thoughtful and time-consuming is baseless.  The two activities are totally different and cannot really be compared.  @southernbelle also made a great point.  

    Thank You notes >>> phone calls (as a formal "Thank You" for your gifts).  If you're compelled to make a call as well, great!




    This is a personal preference of mine. I prefer a phone call over a note. I prefer seeing the person face to face over a note. I make the effort to call people if I can't see them face to face to thank them. That is my preference.

    No where did I say that I wasn't writing thank you notes. No where in my post did I say that anyone shouldn't write thank you notes. In fact, I said they were an engrained part of wedding etiquette and thus need to be done. The question in the OP was about preference and whether someone would be upset if they didn't receive a card as well. I answered with my preference.  

    Anything else you'd like to assume about me?

  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
    True enough. It can be more convenient for the recipient, though I know of few people who wait for a convenient time to open their mail. Everyone I know just opens it when they get it. But yes, I see what you're saying.
  • lovegood90lovegood90 Ontario
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    edited May 2015

    I think for something like a wedding or other big event, a thank you card is the best.

    However if a close family member got me a birthday present, I'm going to call them up to personally thank them instead because we have that kind of relationship, you know?

    ETA: Anyone else who I don't have a "talk on the phone" relationship with who would get me a birthday gift or something like that would still get a thank you note.

    Formerly martha1818

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  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
    True enough. It can be more convenient for the recipient, though I know of few people who wait for a convenient time to open their mail. Everyone I know just opens it when they get it. But yes, I see what you're saying.
    I'm another person who hates getting random phone calls from people I don't normally communicate with over the phone. I hate talking on the phone in general and usually don't answer at all, unless it's my aunt or best friend. So getting a phone call as a thank-you would be extra irritating and inconvenient to me. It wouldn't be a nice thing at all. 

    From my end, I had several wedding guests from other countries. The logistics of finding a time to call them-- given our extremely different time zones and work schedules-- and then having them pay for the long distance (because even if I'm the caller, charges apply to them too) just doesn't make sense at all. There's a reason written notes are the norm. 
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    [Deleted User]ohannabelleKahlylathespeshulestsnowflake
  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
    True enough. It can be more convenient for the recipient, though I know of few people who wait for a convenient time to open their mail. Everyone I know just opens it when they get it. But yes, I see what you're saying.
    I'm another person who hates getting random phone calls from people I don't normally communicate with over the phone. I hate talking on the phone in general and usually don't answer at all, unless it's my aunt or best friend. So getting a phone call as a thank-you would be extra irritating and inconvenient to me. It wouldn't be a nice thing at all. 

    From my end, I had several wedding guests from other countries. The logistics of finding a time to call them-- given our extremely different time zones and work schedules-- and then having them pay for the long distance (because even if I'm the caller, charges apply to them too) just doesn't make sense at all. There's a reason written notes are the norm. 

    Yes. I can understand those logistical issues. Again, I did not say I wanted phone calls to become required, I said I prefer them. There's a difference. If I knew you and had to thank you, I would be disappointed that you would refuse to talk to me on the phone, so I would send you a thank you card. Or arrange a coffee date or something. I just prefer to contact people directly and to have people contact me directly for stuff like this. I'm not sure how much clearer I can make this.
  • @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
    True enough. It can be more convenient for the recipient, though I know of few people who wait for a convenient time to open their mail. Everyone I know just opens it when they get it. But yes, I see what you're saying.
    I'm another person who hates getting random phone calls from people I don't normally communicate with over the phone. I hate talking on the phone in general and usually don't answer at all, unless it's my aunt or best friend. So getting a phone call as a thank-you would be extra irritating and inconvenient to me. It wouldn't be a nice thing at all. 

    From my end, I had several wedding guests from other countries. The logistics of finding a time to call them-- given our extremely different time zones and work schedules-- and then having them pay for the long distance (because even if I'm the caller, charges apply to them too) just doesn't make sense at all. There's a reason written notes are the norm. 

    Yes. I can understand those logistical issues. Again, I did not say I wanted phone calls to become required, I said I prefer them. There's a difference. If I knew you and had to thank you, I would be disappointed that you would refuse to talk to me on the phone, so I would send you a thank you card. Or arrange a coffee date or something. I just prefer to contact people directly and to have people contact me directly for stuff like this. I'm not sure how much clearer I can make this.
    ----------lost my box-----------------------------------------------


    You would be disappointed in me? Then I would see no need to inconvenience you with a gift in the first place. I don't "refuse" to speak to people on the phone. It's just not my normal thing, so I keep my phone on silent (especially for my office) and usually don't even notice if I get a phone call, which isn't often anyways since everyone who knows me knows I don't like phone calls. 


    Not disappointed in you, just disappointed that you as a friend or family member wouldn't want to converse with someone that I would think (hope?) is near and dear. But hopefully I would know your preference and would not call you as that is your preference. My phone is always on silent in the office (ringtones are so annoying) but I see when calls come in. Really, this topic comes down to different strokes for different folks... and respecting those differences while maintaining what's expected.
  • There is no reason that you can't do both a thank you note and thank them next time you speak with them. As others mentioned, notes are definitely required but you can always call people up more informally to say hello in your normal course of your relationship and bring up how much you appreciate the gift after you've used the gift. Like, next time you're talking to your friend say how much you like the blender she bought you and you've been making awesome smoothies with it.   

    I feel like it's a bit overkill to call every person from your wedding and shower to thank them for the gift since presumably you've spoken to them at the wedding and shower as well. Honestly, I'd probably find it a bit odd as a 30-something person if a friend called me specifically to thank me for a gift but not odd if a friend called me to chat and then brought up how useful my gift was as part of a bigger conversation. Plus, people in this age group are often busy with work, social engagements, young kids, etc. so its harder to have a common time to chit chat about a thank you for a gift. However, for older / lonelier people like grandparents or more elderly aunts and uncles (not saying universally older people are lonely) I would find it nice since you probably talk with them less and they may appreciate the contact. 
  • KatWAGKatWAG Chicago
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    I just ignored a call from SIL. I was sitting right next to the phone, and I like SIL, but did not have the time or desire for a phone conversation right now. That happens a lot. I figure if it is urgent, she will leave a message and I will call her back. That is absolutely what would happen if someone tried to thank you-phone call me.




    Yes. I rarely answer my phone. So I would be getting a thank you voicemail.

    If I am taking the time and money to get you something that I think you will like, then I expect a handwritten TY note

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  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
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    @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.



    I find this to be nonsense.  The recipient isn't gonna care about whether or not it arrives at "a convenient time" because they can open and read it whenever they like, but if you call them at an inconvenient time for them, they're not going to appreciate your thank-you call so much.  They may even be thinking, "Why doesn't she just send me a note that I can read whenever it's convenient for me?"

    Plus, I think that not writing a note, whether or not you call them, is lazy.

    [Deleted User]mrsdee15
  • I think the issue is that a phone call is more convenient for YOU.   You have no way of knowing that it's more convenient for the recipient.   People often call when I'm in the middle of things.   I can't tell you how many times the phone rings when I'm eating dinner, changing a diaper, in the bathroom or just have my hands full.

    But I'll hold onto a thank you note for days / weeks / months / years.   
    STARMOON44
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
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    edited May 2015

    @southernbelle0915 I feel that thank you notes are more impersonal because you don't have to make an effort to write them at a convenient time for the recipient, like you do a phone call or seeing them face to face. You can write thank you notes at any time that is convenient for you, like 2am when you can't sleep. A phone call is something you actually have to schedule and connect with the peson, something you don't do with a card. A card is lovely, absolutely. But getting a call from someone or seeing them face to face is just so much better.

    What does it matter at what time you're writing the thank you note? You're taking the time to sit down, think about your words and put it onto paper. Then address it, stamp it and mail it. I don't see what sitting down at whatever time is convenient for you to write them has to do with how personable a thank you note is.
    This. And also, the TY note recipient can open/read it whenever they want, so it's not like someone writes TY notes only because it's convenient for them. It's actually more convenient for the TY note recipient as well.
    True enough. It can be more convenient for the recipient, though I know of few people who wait for a convenient time to open their mail. Everyone I know just opens it when they get it. But yes, I see what you're saying.
    I'm another person who hates getting random phone calls from people I don't normally communicate with over the phone. I hate talking on the phone in general and usually don't answer at all, unless it's my aunt or best friend. So getting a phone call as a thank-you would be extra irritating and inconvenient to me. It wouldn't be a nice thing at all. 

    From my end, I had several wedding guests from other countries. The logistics of finding a time to call them-- given our extremely different time zones and work schedules-- and then having them pay for the long distance (because even if I'm the caller, charges apply to them too) just doesn't make sense at all. There's a reason written notes are the norm. 

    Yes. I can understand those logistical issues. Again, I did not say I wanted phone calls to become required, I said I prefer them. There's a difference. If I knew you and had to thank you, I would be disappointed that you would refuse to talk to me on the phone, so I would send you a thank you card. Or arrange a coffee date or something. I just prefer to contact people directly and to have people contact me directly for stuff like this. I'm not sure how much clearer I can make this.
    ----------lost my box-----------------------------------------------


    You would be disappointed in me? Then I would see no need to inconvenience you with a gift in the first place. I don't "refuse" to speak to people on the phone. It's just not my normal thing, so I keep my phone on silent (especially for my office) and usually don't even notice if I get a phone call, which isn't often anyways since everyone who knows me knows I don't like phone calls. 

    Not disappointed in you, just disappointed that you as a friend or family member wouldn't want to converse with someone that I would think (hope?) is near and dear. But hopefully I would know your preference and would not call you as that is your preference. My phone is always on silent in the office (ringtones are so annoying) but I see when calls come in. Really, this topic comes down to different strokes for different folks... and respecting those differences while maintaining what's expected.

    You expect every friend and family member to be eagerly awaiting a call from you?  What if, they're driving, sick, having an emergency, in the middle of work or errands, or just happen to be doing something else and aren't in the mood for any phone conversations, regardless of how "dear" you think they consider you?  Expecting them to be automatically in the mood to converse with you, regardless of what else might be going on with them, will get you bounced from just about everyone's idea of who is "near and dear" to them.
    [Deleted User]mrsdee15
  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO
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    There are only a few people I answer the phone for my family, my best friend, my SO. That's it. I hate talking on the phone. So my preference would obviously be to receive a thank-you note. A well-written thank-you note feels more personal to me than a phone call anyway. The last thank-you note I got was just a printed out general thank you that was clearly sent to everyone so in that case a phone call would have seemed more personal.


  • I want a written thank you matter what. If you also want an intimate vocal connection with me, I don't see what that has to do with thanking me for a gift. Phone calls and coffee should already be a regular part of our relationship. If they aren't I'm not interested in you forcing the issue because I gave you a gift.
    [Deleted User]
  • banana468 said:

    I think the issue is that a phone call is more convenient for YOU.   You have no way of knowing that it's more convenient for the recipient.   People often call when I'm in the middle of things.   I can't tell you how many times the phone rings when I'm eating dinner, changing a diaper, in the bathroom or just have my hands full.


    But I'll hold onto a thank you note for days / weeks / months / years.   
    Most people I know throw thank you notes out. I know I was in a group once and we did a poll and surprisingly most people threw them out. Some people kept them forever and forever but most don't. However I get what you're saying. Most people who get calls when they are busy call the person back. I thought that would be a given. I don't expect people to drop everything and talk. Good grief. However, in my family and with my friends we just return the calls afterward. I didn't realize that wasn't a global thing.
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