forwarding praise to my boss, late thank-you note complaints, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. Committing to a start date before the background check is done

I’m well aware it’s common practice for employers to want a start date nailed down before the background has cleared, but why?! I know you’ll say this is a red flag, but it’s so common. I’ve done it before with previous job changes but I’m just not comfortable this time around, even though my background will run squeeky clean.

I’ve recently been offered a new position I am super excited about with a great company. When working with the recruiter to accept my offer and make some negotiations, etc., she was taken back a little that I was insistent that I needed to wait for background to clear before I put in my 2 weeks. It sounds like people don’t request that often from her.

What’s the deal? Why do employers keep doing this? And why do new hires just keep letting them? I realize it delays filling the position which isn’t great for them, but in the big picture it’s our livelihood. In the end the recruiter is allowing this, but I can’t help that I’m annoying them with such a request.

They do it because they see the background check as a rubber stamp and assume that it will come back fine, and — particularly annoyingly — that the only people who need to worry about it are the people with reason to fear that they won’t pass the background check. But of course, sometimes people don’t pass, and sometimes it’s for good reason and other times it’s not. Regardless, though, it’s not at all unreasonable to decline to quit your job until they remove the background contingency from their offer. When they’re ready to commit to you, you’ll commit to them. Good for you for holding firm on that.

2. Can I forward praise of me to my boss?

I’ve been at my job for 8 months now, and it’s been a steep learning curve, learning completely different processes than what I’ve been used to. I’ve had admin assistant jobs for the last 10 years, but this job is basically acting as a PA for about 20 or so consultants. I’ve encountered some hiccups since I started; some were my fault and some were things out of my hands. I’ve put my hands up and admitted they were my fault when they happened and worked on improving the processes to stop them from happening again.

Luckily, I have an extremely supportive boss who has helped me learn, and also helped me with this small issues and is happy with my progress, and I haven’t had any issues in a couple of months and have really settled into my work now. Recently I’ve received a couple of really nice praise emails thanking me from the consultants I support. Is it okay to forward these on to my boss to make her aware of the good things I’ve done, rather than her just seeing the negative?

I am not seeking out a pat on the back from her, but these things I’ve helped on have been big, complex, last-minute trips and she was unlikely to have these consultants loop her in on positive feedback as they’re so busy. I don’t want to come across as insecure in my abilities, but I’d like her to also see that I’ve done a lot of positive things too.

Yep, absolutely. Don’t forward minor praise (like a quick “thanks for your help”), but when people go out of their way to praise your work in a more substantive way, it’s perfectly appropriate to share that with your boss. I’d just forward it on with a note like “Just FYI, thought you’d want to see this” or “here’s a nice note from Jane!”

3. Should I reach out to a hiring manager before applying for a job?

I am currently freelancing, but I am considering looking to join a company to have a bit more stability and benefits over the next few years. I am not actively searching for a new role, but a company I really admire and like to work for is hiring for a position that sounds perfect for me. In researching the company, I found that one of the cofounders (who would also be the head of the department I am applying for) and I share a few interests that we both blog about. I am considering trying to connect with him on LinkedIn sending a personal message about our shared interests and my desire to work at the company. In addition to this, the job description is fairly vague and I was considering contacting someone from the company to get a better idea of what the role would entail and what goals they are trying to achieve with the position (it is a new position). However, I don’t want to come off as pushy or overbearing. So my question to you is, do I:

a) Send a LinkedIn connection to the manager at the company with a personal message about our shared interests, while also expressing my interest in applying for the position at the company. Once (if) he accepts, consider asking for an informational interview.
b) Ask directly for an informational interview by emailing the hiring team.
c) Do nothing and just send in the best application I can.

I think it’s also worth noting that the company is very big on candidates being a good fit with the company culture, which was why I was so excited about our shared interests.

Just apply the normal way. If you weren’t applying for a job right now, it would be fine to reach out to him with a message about your shared interests, but when you’re also applying for a job, it’s going to look like you’re just trying to circumvent their normal application process, and most people get annoyed by that.

Don’t ask for an informational interview (same reason as above). And don’t contact anyone there with questions about the role and its goals before you apply; that usually comes off as wasting their time on questions that are better discussed in the interview, if they decide to offer you one.

Just apply and see what happens. (And if it ends up not going anywhere, you can always reach out to the cofounder afterwards and network with him, and that might set up in a stronger position the next time they have an opening. But you can’t do that until this process is over, or it’ll look insincere.)

4. Should I ask for an on-the-spot interview at a store event?

I shop at Sephora a lot, and I’ve ended up become well-acquainted with one of the sales associates. (I’d say friends, but I don’t want to be too forward, since generally we all have to be extra nice in customer service positions.) I asked her about openings and she seemed really excited to tell me they were hiring currently. She talked to her supervisor, who said I should apply online that night (which I did) and had me put her name down in the employee referral spot on the app.

There’s a special event before the rest of the mall opens this Sunday and that sales associate and the main manager will both be there. She said that she would introduce me to the manager, and I was hoping I could ask for an interview. Would that be too forward? I don’t want to just ask for them to pull my application because I haven’t had a job for over a year, I quit it without notice, and it was just Subway.

I really, really want this job. It’s the only job I’m applying to, even if I don’t get it. I don’t necessarily need work, and I’m currently in school. Since I take a lot of online courses, my schedule is pretty open and I’d like something to fill the time. I know this job would be a great fit for me. I’m applying as a cashier, which is one thing I felt I really excelled at while I worked at Subway, I love the employees at this particular Sephora, and I’m really passionate about makeup and sharing products that I love with people.

How can I make a good impression on this manager? Would it be wise to come prepared for an impromptu interview if they happen to offer or accept my request on the spot? Is that common? Would it be a weird to bring a folder with a copy of my resume, references, and maybe a cover letter? I planned to dress similarly to their uniform, full face of makeup, a dress, leggings, and stylish flats, to maybe look like I would “fit the part,” but not be out of place and -too- dressy if nothing came of it.

I wouldn’t ask for an interview on the spot, but I would say this: “Jane told me that you’re currently hiring and I’d love to talk with you about that at some point. I’ve submitted an application online and would love to work here!”

I would then be prepared to be interviewed on the spot in case she offers it, but don’t go in expecting it. But prepared means that yes, coming with a copy of your resume would be great to do. A cover letter isn’t necessary in this context but would probably make a great impression if it’s a good one, and the same goes for a reference list. Good luck.

5. A shower guest asked where her thank-you is

I am insulted that I have been asked by a guest if I sent out a thank-you note from my wedding shower. Is it wrong to feel this way? I feel it to be rude, as I have been sending them out as time goes on. It’s been three months since the shower. I have 150 handwritten thank-you’s to write. Do you find it rude that a person should be asking why she hasn’t received it yet? Is that really the reason why someone should give a gift so she receives a thank you?

This isn’t a workplace question, but it’s Saturday so what the hell, I’ll answer it.

Etiquette experts seem to agree that you should send thank-yous for wedding showers within two to three weeks. So yeah, you’re late.

If your guest asked where her note was, that’s not terribly polite either. Any chance that she’s feeling unappreciated for other reasons? It sounds like the kind of remark someone might make if they thought they saw a pattern of apparent ingratitude or self-centeredness. I have no idea if that’s the case here and I’m not accusing you of that, but it’s worth considering whether there could be something like that going on. Either way, I’d get her note in the mail immediately.

And no, it’s not about giving a gift in order to receive a note, but rather that people want to feel that you cared about them and their gift and it wasn’t just one in a pile that you simply accepted as your due. This person is telling you that she currently feels unappreciated.

{ 241 comments… read them below }

  1. Graciosa*

    Regarding #5, the request from the guest was rude.

    However, if you had written eight notes a day since your shower, you would have finished them all in less than three weeks – and I’m betting that the time it takes to write a thank-you note is less than the time it took the giver to select, purchase, wrap, and present your gift (even without a card). I just timed one at less than 2 1/2 minutes without consulting a gift list or addressing an envelope, so call it double that.

    The note is probably less important to her than the belief that her effort wasn’t worth five minutes of your time.

    1. Awful Waffle*

      Exactly – when you don’t write a thank you note, you’re basically saying that the time, effort, and the gift really isn’t appreciated.

      My rule is that if I don’t receive a thank you note for the wedding gift, no baby gifts or subsequent gifts for you.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        I agree, and so do the rules of etiquette! If you don’t send a thank you (although in some situations an in-person thank is sufficient, but not at a shower), it’s a signal that you don’t want gifts from that person. It’s not just a way of enforcing gratitude–sometimes you actually don’t want gifts from a person, and this is how you can tell them that.

        1. C Average*

          I sometimes wish it were easier to just have “I don’t want gifts” conversations than it is.

          I am someone who loves giving gifts to people I care about, but I want those gifts to not feel like millstones to the recipients! I tend to buy a lot of perishable gifts: wine, food, flowers, experiences, etc. I also like buying people really nice things that have definite shelf lives; for years I’ve kept my mother in a steady supply of really good socks, because I know she loves having them, won’t spend the money on them herself, and can’t get all sentimental about them and keep them just because they’re from me. It’s a strange thing about gifts: I dislike the idea of buying from an explicit wish list because it makes me feel like some kind of catalog (“place your order with C by December 1 for Christmas delivery!”) but I also hate the idea of burdening people I love with crap they don’t want.

          At the same time, I feel like there are people who send gifts to me purely out of obligation or beyond what seems like their means, and I wish I could let them off the hook. For years my aunt, who’s in poor health and doesn’t have much money, spent God only knows how much time and money putting together these amazing , creative holiday packages. Which we loved and thanked her effusively for, but among ourselves we always wondered, “Can she afford this? Is there a polite way to let her know we’ll still love her just as much if she isn’t Super Ultimate Rock Star Christmas-Present Giver?” And we really didn’t want or need the annual box o’ weird miscellany from my father’s certifiably insane stepmother. (I can say this because, bless her soul, Grandmama is no longer with us now.)

          1. JB (not in Houston)*

            I know that feeling, but just like you like giving people stuff, I think the people like your aunt *enjoy* giving stuff. I have had told people before that I can’t enjoy gifts if I feel like they are a burden to the giver, but that hasn’t really stopped anyone. There are a few people I have the kind of relationship with where I can say that if they give me a gift, I’m not taking it. But even then, sometimes you have to because it means a lot to give something.

            At least I’m easy. My favorite gifts are (1) $5 Sbux card, (2) a random book from the $1 clearance section and Half Price Books, and (3) that thing you found in clearance at the grocery store, the dollar store, or at a garage sale that you can’t identify or can’t believe someone made. So at least my broke friends and family know they can get me something cheap that I’ll love. So I figure that means if they get me something that costs more it’s because they want to get that for me and not because they think they have to spend that to make me happy about my present.

      2. Melissa*

        I mean, on the one hand I understand why someone might feel this way given the rules of etiquette. But as someone who loves to give gifts and is in a stage of life when it seems like all of my friends are either marrying or procreating, I find myself just not caring about handwritten thank you notes. In most cases, my friends have told me thank you in person verbally, or after the fact verbally. And I don’t expect handwritten thank-you notes when I get people other kinds of gifts like birthday or anniversary gifts – so why would I expect them specifically for wedding and baby gifts and why should they, to me, feel more important than a heartfelt verbal thank you? Or, for that matter, why must I expect the gift-receiver to waste paper and stamps sending me a thank you when an email note is probably less of a burden on them and something I am more likely to keep?

        Maybe this is where my Millennial-ness shows through, but I…just don’t care about written notes. Certainly not enough to make me stop giving gifts to my friends. If they tell me thank you verbally, then I trust they are being sincere, and don’t expect them to write 200 handwritten thank-yous in the first two weeks of their marriage or – god forbid – while jugging a newborn infant.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Ugh, so much this. It burns me when people complain about having so many thank-yous to write, they can’t possibly get to them all in a few weeks. I get that it’s a pain sometimes, but it takes less than 5 minutes, as you say, and these people came out to celebrate YOU and took the time, effort and money to get YOU a gift. Write the notes right away– people will love that and– surprise!– the task will be off your plate.

      A friend of mine wrote all of her notes on the flight to her honeymoon. She is my example to live up to. Another friend wrote the most beautiful, personalized notes that arrived within two weeks of her wedding. My cousin’s husband wrote all the notes to her side and she wrote all the notes to his, they had 300 guests plus gifts from people who couldn’t come– done in less than a month.

      Don’t get me started on the pre-printed, generic “thank you note” that arrived six whole damn months after the wedding.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        “A friend of mine wrote all of her notes on the flight to her honeymoon.”

        So did I. My sister-in-law still talks about it (in a “wow, good idea” way). I mean, what else are you going to do on a plane ride? It was especially convenient since my husband was sitting right there next to me, so I wrote the notes, left him some room to sign and add anything else he wanted to, and put them on his tray table.

        If politeness and genuine good feeling aren’t reason enough to write thank-you notes (for ALL your presents, not just shower gifts), here’s a more selfish reason: If you are known as a prompt writer of thank-you notes, and there’s a time that you DON’T write one, the giver will think, not, “How rude!” but rather “I wonder whether she got my gift!” This is how the aforementioned sister-in-law and I figured out that I hadn’t received my birthday gift (and, conversely, that she hadn’t forgotten my birthday) a couple of years ago.

        1. the gold digger*

          My mom drilled the art of thank-you notes into my siblings and me. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile, I got a letter from a friend asking if I had received the Halloween candy she had sent a few months earlier. “It’s just that you are so good about thank-you notes,” she wrote.

          And I had not gotten her package. Apparently, someone in customs or the post office had stolen my candy corn. Jerk. I hope he got cavities.

          PS I am also in the “No thank you note? No gifts again ever” camp.

          1. Chartreuse*

            Wow. So to you and Awful Waffle gift giving isn’t about, “I want your life to be happier/better/easier so I’m giving you this thing that will make it so.” It’s about “I want to test you to see how good you are at noticing my generosity and stroking me for it, and not just noticing it and stroking me for it, but doing so in a Certain Prescribed Way in a Certain Prescribed Length of Time.” To me, when I give a gift, my main concern is whether the recipient likes/enjoys/benefits from the gift and if so I am quite happy regardless of whether I happen to get a card in the mail later. In fact I am usually surprised when I get a thank you note to remember, oh that’s right I gave them this or did that. It would turn me into a much more negative and judgmental person than I want to be if I were to waste brainspace on keeping tally of the gifts and favors I’ve given to people for the purpose of condemning them for not being grateful enough if they don’t send me a piece of cardboard in the mail.

            1. Meg*

              I’m sure you don’t need random Internet strangers telling you that your comment was unnecessarily adversarial, but I’m going to tell you anyway. She’s not being negative or judgmental to want to be appreciated for giving a gift. It’s common, polite courtesy to say thank you when someone gives you a gift, and when someone goes through the effort of giving a gift and the recipient doesn’t bother to show thanks? That’s pretty inconsiderate.

              1. Marcela*

                Yes, it’s polite to thank, but from my foreign point of view, it looks like it doesn’t matter if you say thank you in person (or over the phone) to the people who gave you a gift: you have to write a letter anyway. So it’s not really about gratitude. That reminds me of my grandmother, who was very generous, but she wasn’t really thinking of you when getting a present. Instead she was dreaming about all those times you would have to show gratitude, even years later. She would complain bitterly, to all my extended family, if you didn’t show the level of gratitude she expected. It was terrible. Honestly, many of us grandchildren would prefer not receive anything.

                1. Noelle*

                  That reminds me of my grandmother, who for every single birthday sends me *just* enough money that I need to write a thank you card, but not enough to be fun. The actual amount is never even enough to cover the cost of a card and postage, but I always write the thank you anyway because she will lord it over you until the end of time if she does not promptly get her note. She threw a fit at my brother’s wedding because she’d sent me a card the week prior and I hadn’t sent her a note yet.

              2. Chartreuse*

                Well, I have a different philosophy of gift giving than yours. If I give something expecting something in return, it’s a transaction, not a gift. Now, of course, if I am the recipient, of course I should show gratitude, in both conventional ways and more personal and meaningful ways. And personally, I do! But as a giver, I should not be keeping score about whether gratitude was shown to me. I should be giving freely, simply because I want the person to have and enjoy this nice thing.

                I really like the way C Average explained it down below.

                1. Kate M*

                  I always advocate for thank you notes, definitely. But I do think there is a slight difference in situations. For instance, if I just decide to pick up a gift for a friend on a whim, give it to them, and they thank me on the spot, I don’t really expect a thank you note (though I have got them before, and always appreciate them).

                  BUT, if I’m invited to an event specifically for gift-giving (like a shower), then hell yes I expect a thank you note. I mean, people threw themselves (presumably, or were ok with it being thrown for them) a party specifically to get gifts. In doing so, I think they enter into to societally acknowledged area that you owe gift-givers a thank you after that. Like, if you’re going to buy into society’s expectation of showers being an ok way to get gifts, then you have to accept society’s expectation of thank you cards after. You can’t buy into one (the one that benefits you) and not the other.

            2. Ellie H.*

              It’s not that you give a gift in order to get a thank you note as a rote social ritual, it’s that writing a thank you note is polite and not getting one gives you an impression of the other person as an impolite and less thoughtful person which could make you feel a little less generous/warmly toward him or her.

            3. Artemesia*

              The idea that the world is full of people who want to shower you with bounty while being happy to be ignored is infantile. Literally. Babies and small children expect the world to give and give and give without giving in return. But adult society is based on reciprocity. At minimum that means gratitude and acknowledgement of gifts and favors. Why would I or anyone else want to give gifts to people who care so little about us that they don’t even acknowledge the effort. The person who gives and gets not so much as an email in return is not the selfish one here.

              1. De (Germany)*

                And thanking someone at the event when receiving it is not acknowledging the effort?

                1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Etiquette does say that if you thank someone in person, there’s no need to write a note on top of it — but etiquette also explicitly says that showers are an exception to that rule (probably because the whole point of showers is to give the person gifts, and so it comes across as fairly greedy if the person can’t be bothered to write a separate thanks afterwards).

                2. Green*

                  I bring a Christmas gift to my friend Tom; he opens it and says thank you. No card required, because it’s just me and my buddy.

                  150 people show up to an event where you send out a wishlist in advance, and you don’t actually have time to have individual conversations with everyone there? An “OMG Thanks!” doesn’t work. Yeah, you need to send a card or choose not to have parties where people are obligated by social etiquette to give you a gift if they attend, if you hate writing thank you notes.

            4. Cordelia Naismith*

              To me, when I give a gift, my main concern is whether the recipient likes/enjoys/benefits from the gift and if so I am quite happy regardless of whether I happen to get a card in the mail later.

              But how do you know if the recipient liked the gift if they don’t send a thank-you note? It seems to me not sending a thank-you note means they didn’t like it.

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                I just read some of the other comments, I want to clarify that I was thinking of wedding gifts here or other gifts where the recipient was not present when it was opened.

              2. Melissa*

                Even if the recipient does not like the gift, they’re not going to tell you in the thank you note anyway. Since social etiquette requires you to send the note, social etiquette also requires you to at least faintly praise the gift given/be positive about it. No one is going to write a note like “We know that it’s the thought that counts, so thanks, but we really hate this toaster you gave us.”

                So getting a thank-you doesn’t mean that they liked it.

          2. Oryx*

            My mom did the same. To this day I still write thank you cards so when I don’t even get at least an *acknowledgement* of the gift I a) get a little miffed and b) worry about whether or not it was received (which brings up a whole other issue of etiquette as expressed here, because I don’t want to be rude by asking if they got it but what if they didn’t get it? and ugh, so much angst)

        2. Sunny*

          Yup, the proper way to say “where the hell is my thank you note?” is to ask if you had received the gift.

          This worked pretty well when I had received an e-gift certificate. A couple of weeks later, my friend asked if I had gotten it, because I am usually pretty good about thank you notes. Turned out, it had gotten sent to spam. I am so glad she reminded me!

        3. Taylor*

          I had to ask my close cousin if she received her wedding gift from me (shipped from Amazon) because I hadn’t received a thank you. Sometimes Amazon doesn’t include the personalized note, so she might have received it and not know who the hell it was from! And truthfully, I WAS wondering where the thank-you note was, and thought this might be a gentle push. Not only did she tell me that she received it, but she added “By the way, I have 2 years from the date of the wedding to send out thank-yous.” Brusque! And incorrect to boot! Well.

          A year and a half later and no note. Even though I’m a “millennial” and “thank you notes are sooo old fashioned,” a note from her would mean a lot, considered my boyfriend and I spent over $800 to attend her wedding (not to mention, we spent 12+ hours trapped in the airport and missed our one-hour flight due to a shooting in the terminal).

          Whatever. At least now I know that that must be her “no gifts, thank you” signal.

      2. Tessa*

        I went to a shower where we were handed a “thank you” note (the message was something like thank you for your thoughtfulness with a signature underneath) as we left. I gave up most of my Saturday to travel to the shower and back and couldn’t believe the bride was tacky enough to think that would be appreciated.

    3. Green*

      The guest might also be asking that question as an awkward proxy for (1) did you get my gift?, (2) did you know X was from me so you don’t think I didn’t give you a gift?, (3) did you like my gift?

      Send thank yous within a month of the event. However, for baby showers I tend to expect them a little later, depending on when the baby arrived. It feels like there’s “a lot going on!” with a wedding, but ultimately it’s a day or two; at least when someone has a new baby, they’re typically sleeping every time the baby is. :)

    4. Chartreuse*

      2.5 or 5 minutes? You must not put much thought or care into your thank you notes. Mine always go through a draft, rewrite, then polish process that takes at least ten minutes (not counting the time for gathering supplies, addressing, sealing, stamping etc) – longer if I really care about the person or was particularly touched by their gift. On the other hand, I could care less whether I *receive* thank you notes and it baffles me when people react as the giver in #5 or Awful Waffle above me. I enjoy to be thanked in the moment, get to see the look on the person’s face when they open the gift and hear their spontaneous exclamations of enjoyment and appreciation. That shows me they really like the gift. Getting a card in the mail in a few days or a couple weeks with the standard, perfunctory formulaic lines? Not so much.

      So my preference if I am going to be thanked is in-person thanks (though I do send thank you notes, I’d rather not receive them they seem so perfunctory and ungenuine, and I do take time on mine to try and make them more “real”).

      But there’s another thing that baffles me even more – regardless of whether the thanks is given in person or in writing – is the attitude of some givers where they are actively “keeping score” in their head about who they’ve given what to and how long ago and making the effort to notice that it has been a certain amount of time and gosh darn it that thank you still hasn’t turned up. What? It kind of makes the whole thing seem transactional, like “I give you this and now you have to give me that” – that’s fine for craigslist (I give you used bike, you give me twenty bucks, and if you don’t you are a bad person – yes, that does work that way because that’s a transaction), but for giving a gift? Isn’t the very definition that gift giving is done freely and nontransactionally, simply because you like the person and want them to have this nice gift to enjoy? At any rate, that’s why I give gifts. Maybe other people do it because they want the thank you card (what do they do with it when they get it? hang it on a wall like a trophy? put it in a book like a stamp collector’s album?)

      1. Myrin*

        I’m very interested in all the responses to this question as I’m form a culture where neither wedding/baby showers nor thank you cards are a thing (except for weddings, and then it’s usually something with a picture of the couple and a printed “Thank you for attending, we were very glad you came!”, nothing horrifically elaborate). So the whole thing is very curious to me and my feelings are very in-line with yours, Chartreuse. That being said, I’m also a horrible card writer for some reason. My sister writes the most thoughtful, crative birthday cards and I just can’t think of anything better than very generic, basic things. So I guess I can be greatful this whole cards business isn’t a thing where I’m from anyway (although people obviously appreciate a friendly card).

        1. Lulu*

          I also find this interesting. Maybe it’s because I’m always telling people not to give me gifts, so I don’t get a lot of them, but I don’t really get why people put so much stock in killing a tree to say thank you. Quite frankly, if I get a paper/card thank you note from someone, those are the people who might not get more presents from me. I much prefer a phone call or a quick email, because they both feel more personal than an etiquette-book driven piece of recycling.
          It’s just a social convention that makes no sense to my brain. I’m so glad there were only 10 people at my wedding – at least I only offended a small number if people who already know me!

          1. the gold digger*

            I much prefer a phone call or a quick email

            But it’s not even the form that matters so much. Sure, I prefer a handwritten note, but what I really want is for the recipient to acknowledge receipt. It is good manners and yes, I totally judge someone who doesn’t even thank me in person or by email.

            As far as US wedding showers, the non-optional social convention is that you write a thank you note. It is What Is Done.

            1. mirror*

              Maybe in some parts…I also grew up in a household that expected thank you cards, but only when you couldnt thank the gift giver in person. And the best thank you was a phone call.

              I had a wedding shower and didnt send thank you notes. I had no idea this was such a strict rule, since I grew up thinking in person thanks was the ultimate thank you. I had 10 friends there and I thanked each personally. For my wedding, yes I did send thank you cards within 2 weeks of the wedding.

              I’m not trying to be disrespectful but it’s always irritated me that people would rather have a piece of paper than my in person or phone thanks. I think both of those take more effort, time, and are much more personal. When people get stuck on the paper I feel they are focusing on their tally and like looking down on others who can’t follow the ‘rules,’ rather than focusing on the gesture.

              1. Cordelia Naismith*

                Showers are different from other gift-giving occasions, though. For birthdays, Christmas, etc, a sincere in-person thank-you is fine, no note needed. But a shower is a party you threw yourself for the express purpose of getting people to give you gifts — to then not acknowledge those gifts with a note just comes across as thoughtless.

                1. Jenna*

                  Where I am from, technically the shower is thrown by the maid of honor for the bride.
                  Sometimes it is only technically true, because often the bride controls everything about the party, but, it isn’t supposed to be a party thrown by the bride for herself, because to actually do that with no fiction would definitely come across as a gift grab.
                  I know it is different in different places.

                  For the wedding gifts, I knew I was going to have trouble getting them written, but, I wanted to follow the expected rules and let people know that I had gotten and enjoyed their gift. So. My husband and I(because I was not going to do this all by myself. no.)wrote the notes as we opened the gifts. My logic for this was that we could not use the gift till it was acknowledged, and we would never be happier about whatever it was than right as we opened it. It made it easier to be at least slightly effusive about some of the more interesting gifts, and it got the note writing done right away.

                  I suspect that my wedding was tiny in comparison to many, though. My shower only had 5 guests, not 150.
                  If my wedding HAD been that large, I suspect I would have needed my strategy to get it done even more, or to even remember who gave what. A written list can only do so much.

          2. Cat*

            Obviously you can give presents to whoever you want, but have you told people you really don’t want thank you notes? Because otherwise they’re sending them because other people would be deeply offended if they don’t get them.

              1. StarHopper*

                Not sure about your age, but all through my 20s, I received many thank you notes for various wedding and baby gifts I’ve given, all from people also in their 20s/30s.

                1. Joline*

                  I’m 32 and in Canada and don’t run with a crowd that does thank you cards as a general thing (birthday or Christmas or what have you) but showers – both wedding and baby – and weddings always led to a card.

                  I admittedly probably wouldn’t really notice if I didn’t get a card but if at one point I am the person benefiting from one of these events I’d do the cards because as someone said above – it’s What Is Done.

                2. Jenna*

                  Nesting ended, but this is to Jolene.
                  The one time I went to a wedding and really noticed the lack of a card was when I gave money….and then wondered if the intended recipient had even gotten that part of the gift or if it had been waylaid.
                  Mostly, I just want to know if it got where it was supposed to go, so, if I drop a package off at a gift table, or send something to another city or state, then something to let me know that it got to the intended person in one piece is good.

        2. Jen RO*

          My thoughts exactly! I think AAM was the place where I learned that thank you notes are A Thing.

          1. De (Germany)*

            I really only know them for weddings. And then it’s mostly, I think, because gifts are not opened at the event, so you usually don’t thank the person for this *specific* gift in person.

            I really don’t see why a letter would be needed when thanking someone in person.

          2. Sigrid*

            I have never in my life written a thank-you note. They were never even mentioned in my house growing up, let alone taught as etiquette. I had no idea, until this thread, that they were a Thing.

      2. fposte*

        It’s fine to take several hours over each note if you like; it just doesn’t mean you get to send them any later than people who dash off two lines.

        And while this letter was about a shower, plenty of us are talking about weddings, too, where you don’t get to see the happy looks of people opening gifts because that’s not what you do at weddings, and the gifts should have been sent to somebody’s house instead.

        1. Chartreuse*

          I think it is strange that the same people that do not attach much importance to the card on the sending end “just dash of two lines, it only takes me 2.5 minutes” then turn around and attach a huge, ridiculous amount of importance to the card when they are on the receiving end. Frankly, I don’t view a perfunctorily dashed off card as being significantly more impressive than no card. Wow, so you can write down standard formulaic lines. And you can afford a card and postage. Why don’t you give the money for the card and postage to charity and just tell me next time you see me how much you like the gift.

          What impresses me (and note, impresses me, it is not “points off” if the person doesn’t do it) is either a thoughtfully written card that really shows the recipient actually cares, or better yet if they mention something in passing later on when they are actively using the gift “you know, I think you are the one who gave me this thing I am using right now – I can’t tell you how much I’ve been enjoying it – everytime I do this activity it makes things so much easier/more fun/whatever.”

          To be clear, as I said above, I do send thank you notes because I understand that the pieces of cardboard are important to some people (right before they throw them in the trash…). I just don’t care if anyone sends them to me and I don’t get why anyone else cares.

          1. fposte*

            Sure, and a lot of people don’t care if they get presents for their wedding, either. Which is fine, because it’s people’s prerogative not to care, and I guess people who feel like that might not get why other people would like presents.

            But the fact is that a lot of people do care about these social conventions, and I don’t think anybody has to get why; it’s enough to know that they do and to realize that it’s going to mean something to the recipient if you do it and if you don’t.

            1. Chartreuse*

              Hm… I think actually we *should* think about the “why” of social conventions, and whether there is or isn’t a good reason for having them for having them in a certain form. There are plenty of other social conventions that get questioned in these comment boxes (I’m all for that, too) with people being vocal advocates for changing the status quo (I’m not always in favor of that, depends on what is being changed and the the reason for the change, which is why the debate and questioning is good, to iron all of that out).

              And I think you skipped the first part of what I wrote, which raises the question of why someone would treat a thank you card as being of no great significance when they are the sender, yet turn around and treat it as being of such great significance when they are the receiver? Seriously, you dash it off with no thought yourself, but then you get offended like its absence means there was no thought and you just can’t be friends with someone so thoughtless. Does not make sense.

              For every anecdote about “the ones who don’t send thank you cards are the ones who are so selfish in other ways too” I’ll raise you my own anecdotal evidence that some of the people I’ve been around who have been the most conscientious about sending out formal thank you cards for every last little thing are the ones who stupendously fail to actually live the gratitude that the card is supposed to symbolize. I’d rather get no thank you card from “Emma” who is so warmhearted that she wouldn’t dream of even so much as exchanging a gift for another color because the act of choosing the gift for her was “so sweet and thoughtful” on the part of the giver, than a lovely brand name fashion forward thank you card from “Susie” who privately mocks and makes fun of gifts that everyone gave her and happily exchanges, or even tosses on the Goodwill pile the things that those hopeless schmucks thought would meet her standards.

              1. fposte*

                As I said, it’s fine that you want what you want, and it’s fine to decide that your intimates need to be people who want what you want rather than social conventions as well.

                1. Chartreuse*

                  That’s not what I said at all fposte. Are you mischaracterizing what I wrote on purpose or is it a genuine misunderstanding? I’ve rephrased and reiterated things several times in an effort to be clear, but it’s possible that I still wasn’t clear. I will try once more.

                  I’m *not* saying “your intimates need to be people who want what you want rather than social conventions.” I am saying that it does not make sense for you or Graciosa or anyone else to say on the one hand that when you send thank you notes you don’t take them seriously, and on the other hand when you receive (or don’t receive) them you do take them very seriously.

                  In what way is it significantly different to thoughtlessly and uncaringly dash off a perfunctory thank you note versus thoughtlessly and uncaringly not even send a thank you note. How are the two things different? It seems to me it is a difference of degree not kind and it is only a small degree, not large, so the difference is completely insignificant. If you choose to judge and look down on people for doing the latter, you should also judge and look down on them for doing the former.

                2. Chartreuse*

                  Alison, there have been several commenters who have talked about just dashing off two lines, or taking only 2.5 minutes just to get the task completed. If it’s just a task, something to do as quickly and perfunctorily as possible, that’s pretty thoughtless.

                3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’m a fast writer; if I sit down to write a genuine, heartfelt thank-you, it will probably take only a few minutes. I’m sure there are many others who are the same.

        2. Artemesia*

          My daughter and SIL did their thank yous after the wedding and before the wedding trip (they had a couple of days) They sat down at our dining table and wrote exceedingly charming and personalized notes. They had about 50 to do (some had been done earlier for gifts received earlier) and this took an afternoon and certainly didn’t require drafts and elaborate re-writes. There really is no good excuse for not getting this done quickly and in a personal way unless one is hospitalized or similarly incapacitated. for wedding gifts it an wait till after the honeymoon. For shower gifts, it should be done within a week or two.

      3. C Average*

        In some ways I agree with you. I’m not crazy about the transactional, score-keeping mentality and don’t subscribe to it myself. I don’t give gifts expecting a thank-you note, and receiving or not receiving one has zero bearing on whether I’ll give the recipient further gifts in the future.

        I do like to receive some indication of gratitude and appreciation, even just a delighted smile or a “thanks, I love this” text message, just because my gift-giving budget is finite in terms of both money and time, and I want to make my gift-giving efforts count. An expression of gratitude tells me “you’ve hit the mark” and helps me know whether to give that kind of gift in the future or try a different approach. I’m usually pretty good at reading a “meh” response to a gift and won’t give a similar gift again.

        But I do love both receiving and writing a good thank-you note and think it’s a custom worth preserving in my own life. (I won’t make any “everyone should do this” pronouncements because that’s above my pay grade, and Miss Manners is already doing a fine job of issuing edicts along these lines.) I, too, try to make these notes personal. I keep an eye out for especially beautiful, funny, or clever thank-you cards and keep a stockpile, and sometimes I dash one off on the smallest of pretexts–I’ve written them to friends who called at just the right time or colleagues who have been particularly helpful on a project. I’m always pleased when I see the notes I’ve written to people pinned to corkboards or cube walls, and it makes me want to keep writing them. I have a few tucked away in a box because I especially treasure them.

        One friend writes such wonderful thank-you notes that I’ve thanked her for her thank-you note and then she thanked ME for the thank-you note and we joked about how long we could keep the volley going–it was a really fantastic little festival of gratitude and mutual affection out of all proportion to the original gift I sent!

        tl;dr: I’m not a score-keeper, but I do love thank-you notes. I’ll keep writing them and I’ll keep enjoying receiving them.

      4. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Chartreuse, of course it’s not the note itself that people care about (and no, people aren’t keeping them). It’s that they took the time to acknowledge your thoughtfulness on their behalf and to genuinely appreciate it. At least in this culture, thank-you notes is the mutually agreed upon way we do this. It is What You Do if you want to show appreciate and gratitude and basic politeness, so when someone doesn’t do it, yes, it feels rude and ungracious.

        No is giving gifts because they want a card, come on. But they’re giving gifts because they want to connect with the recipient, and the recipient isn’t holding up their end of that interaction if they don’t thank the person in a non-perfunctory way.

        1. Chartreuse*

          Well, a few people in this thread have actually advocated for thanking in a quite perfunctory way! To which I object. As a receiver, of course a person should warmly and genuinely thank the person who gave them the gift.

          But as a giver, I do not think a person should keep track of whether or not they’ve been thanked; it seems like doing so is actively watching for someone to be – as you put it – “rude and ungracious”, which isn’t exactly a gracious attitude itself, now is it? Isn’t there a definition of politeness out there somewhere that says something like “it’s not polite to notice other people’s impoliteness”?

          1. Chartreuse*

            edit: that should read “actively watching for a chance to deem someone to be – “

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            No, what etiquette says is that it’s rude to point out someone else’s rudeness. You can certainly notice it, and modify your own behavior accordingly (in this case, not giving additional gifts to the person and/or thinking they’re unappreciative/rude).

            1. Chartreuse*

              Okay, we all notice things and “modify behavior” accordingly, but the noticing can be active and deliberate or just happening to catch our attention, and the behavior modification we choose can be a good or a bad modification!

              It’s not good or gracious to actively and deliberately watch for and try to keep track of whether we’ve been Properly Appreciated for the gifts we’ve given; that changes the gift giving from a free and true gift to a transactional attitude where we are feeling owed something in return.

              And if aren’t doing that, but we still do happen to notice that a thank you note was omitted, it’s hardly a gracious “behavior modification” choice to get in a huff over that one data point and decide based on that alone that they are a Bad Person and unworthy of receiving our precious gifts ever again, especially if we wouldn’t have gotten in a huff if they’d sent a completely insincere and perfunctory thank you note. See my example of “Sally” and “Emma” above.

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Hmmm, I disagree. Gift giving is an interaction — a reaching out for connection; it’s not a one-way delivery of a gift. To complete the interaction, the other person is expected to circle back to the gift-giver and complete their side of that connection. So it’s not unreasonable to notice when that doesn’t happen, or to feel like it really changes the nature of the experience.

              1. Chartreuse*

                What word would you use to describe the completely altruistic gift, given purely because you like and care about the other person and their happiness, not because you want anything circling back to you?

                In the set of vocabulary I normally use to when I think about (and discuss) such things “gift” is the word that describes that kind of pure and free altruism. And I do think it fits with common understanding and usage, which would usually make a sharp contrast between a gift and a transaction. But perhaps in your thinking, you use a different word for that concept of completely free giving?

                1. StarHopper*

                  You are being a little obtuse about this issue. Gratitude for gifts received is part of the social contract. In formal situations, like weddings and baby showers, a formal note is called for. If a recipient doesn’t express thanks in some way, it is no great leap to assume that further presents would also not be appreciated. Don’t do it if you don’t want to, but be aware that some people will think you are rude.

                2. Belinda*

                  I just wanted to add that I agree with Chartreuse. I think the point of gift giving is to give it of your whole heart, because you want that person to enjoy the gift. Who cares if the person acknowledges their thanks or not? That is my own view on it. Of course, though not everyone is like that. I think ego has a bit to do with it, to be honest. Whether or not someone sends a thank you is not a good way to judge people in my view.

                3. Chartreuse*

                  Oh, I think you misunderstand me StarHopper. Of *course* as the recipient I thank people (by cards as well as in person) and of *course* I think that is the only right thing for any recipient to do. I’ve said that in numerous places on this thread. However, when I am on the other side -when I am the one doing the giving – I think it’s inappropriate to be concerned about whether one is thanked properly.

                4. StarHopper*

                  Chartreuse, I think what I (and a lot of other pro-thank you people) have an issue with is not the TYPE of thank you (note vs phone call vs whatever), bit rather the complete ABSENCE of any thank you at all. Especially now that it is so easy to give a gift online, you kind of feel like it’s just*poofed* into the ether if the recipient doesn’t bother to call our write. I have that issue with my own family members. I spend my time and money picking something out and shipping it, we chat later on the phone, they don’t say a word about the gift. Amazon tracking says it’s there, so… Should I stop bothering? Do they hate my gifts? What is the deal? It’s awkward to be on the un-thanked side of things.

                5. Chartreuse*

                  I can see what you are saying, StarHopper about wondering what happened if there’s no response whatsoever (did it get there safely? did the email end up in spam?), especially for something mailed or emailed , but isn’t that pretty easily solved by just calling them up a day or two before the package arrives to give them a heads up to expect a package?

                6. Chartreuse*

                  I guess wondering if they liked it would be hard. At a distance it’s just really hard to know without feedback. You know, something that has worked in my family is sending the presents prior to whatever occasion and use Skype or Facetime so the giver can get to be “present” at the birthday party or whatever it is while the little one unwraps it. I was there in person with my nephews when they opened some things their grandparents had sent by mail, while their mom had the grandparents live on Facetime talking with the boys and enjoying seeing their grins and squeals. It actually worked really great!

                7. Cordelia Naismith*

                  I get what you’re saying, Chartreuse. I have a relative who uses gift giving as a way to keep score, it feels like, and it definitely makes any gifts I exchange with her a task I’m completing solely out of duty, and not for any more genuine emotion. For example, I usually send her a thank you note the day after Christmas, but one year I waited a week for whatever reason. The next year, she waited until a week after Christmas to send my gift. That kind of thing is annoying and petty.

                  But that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t express gratitude for a gift in the societally agreed-up way, which in this case means a thank-you note. It’s just rude not to do that. I may give a gift out of altruism, but I don’t want to foist gifts upon people who don’t want them…and if I feel like someone didn’t care about the gift I gave them or just couldn’t be bothered to thank me for it even if they liked it…well, that’s going to hurt my feelings a little. I’m going to be less inclined to want to give them a gift in the future if I think they didn’t want and/or appreciate it.

                  I think there’s a big difference between the kind of petty game-playing my relative engages in and a general expectation that you thank a person for giving you a gift. It’s just rude not to say thank you.

                  I don’t expect a note if:
                  A) I gave the gift in person and saw them open it, and they thanked me verbally for it.
                  B) The person gives me a thank-you phone call instead.

                  The only exception to this is showers. I do expect a thank-you note for a wedding shower. A wedding shower is a party thrown explicitly to get extra gifts on top of the wedding gift I’m already giving them. The whole party centers around the gifts. In that situation, I’ll admit that I would feel pretty ticked off not to get a thank-you note. It might be petty of me, but I can’t help feeling that way. I don’t like feeling like the only reason I was invited was to get the gift and that the bride didn’t really care about my feelings or want to interact with me socially.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yup, this. It’s not that I’m wanting for a note (I will keep really nice or unique or thoughtful ones when I need a pick-me-up), it’s that the thanks is acknowledging the gift (or wedding attendance) like “Hey, I know you have no reason to shop at Babies ‘R’ Us aside from my registry and could have spent money on other things and I appreciate that.” I’m not a stickler about a formal note, but just some thanks would be nice.

        3. sam*

          I’m a little late to this party, but I’m going to tell a little story from years ago.

          This was back in the 90s, when internet shopping was not much of a thing yet, and one of my friends was the first of my friends to get married. When she got engaged, I got her a fun margarita glasses/pitcher set off her registry and gave it to her in person while she was in NY (she lived in Texas), she sent a thank you note right away (I couldn’t attend the engagement party because my mom died the same week – needless to say, friend was clearly understanding of this).

          Some months later was the wedding. Friend was getting married in NY, but as she lived in Texas, I went to Macy’s, bought her a blender (to be both funny as a “traditional” wedding gift and also to go with the margarita set) off of her registry, paid for the item in store and then had the store ship the gift to her home in Texas.

          Some months after that, friend was in NY and we were out to dinner. After several drinks, friend started talking about how she had finally gotten all of her thank you notes out. I, possibly fueled by alcohol, said “huh, that’s weird, I didn’t get one”. She, responded right back “um, that’s because you didn’t get me a gift?”. At which point we both look at each other, and I’m like “WTF, I totally got you a damn blender to go with the margarita glasses, and had Macy’s ship it from the store!”

          Which then led to the two of us spending about a month dealing with the incompetent asses at Macy’s bridal registry to find out what they did with my money/my friend’s gift.

          We’re still good friends. and when she got married to husband #2 (after divorcing #1, of course), this time in Texas, I went to the wedding and ordered a gift on the internet, because we can do that now. She did not register at Macy’s.

          If nothing else, a thank you note is a signal that your damn gift has actually arrived where it was supposed to go. (As well as common courtesy and a basic expectation in American culture for, at the very least, gifts given at formal occasions).

      5. Waiting4Godot*

        You send a thank-you note because it is the polite way to graciously acknowledge the generosity of the people who like/love/value/whatever you enough to expend time and money on you, in celebration of whatever milestone you are celebrating. Everyone wants their efforts to please someone to be acknowledged, to know that they are appreciated and valued more than the gift itself, to wit, that the recipient is not just a greedy pig. If someone makes me feel that gift is more important than the gesture of making that gift, then that’s the last gift you will get from me. So yes, I guess gift-giving IS a transaction of sorts — a social transaction. Oh, and in answer to your last question, I sew them together into quilts.

        1. Chartreuse*

          Yes, of course a thank you note is “the polite way to acknowledge…” that’s why I send a (carefully thought out and as genuine as I can make it) thank you note when I receive a gift. There’s a difference though between what I do as a recipient and what I do as a giver.

          As a giver, I am not looking for something in return. I love getting appreciation in return! Of course! But I do not expect it like something I’m owed, like a debt I can collect on. Transaction and gift are contrasting ideas. If you are going to call gift giving a transaction – where in your world view (or vocabulary) is the concept of (I won’t use the word gift-giving) offering someone something, bestowing something on someone purely because you like them and desire their happiness?

          I don’t think I would really be happy if everything I did had to circle back to me and my benefit in some way. It is much more freeing to be able to have people and situations where I give truly and openly without desiring a “return.” And honestly, that really is how I view things like birthday presents, wedding gifts, and other things I give to people. I love making them happy! That’s the reason for the gift. Do I also enjoy their effort to show appreciation? Yes! But it’s a side benefit, it is not the reason that I gave it; and a big part of the reason I like it is because it confirms for me that I did indeed succeed in my aim of making them happy!

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Then why not give all gifts anonymously? There’s a reason people don’t do that, and it’s because gift-giving is a way of reaching out and connecting with the other person. When the other person doesn’t acknowledge that, it’s hurtful.

            1. Chartreuse*

              Sure, you can give anonymously and some people do! There are times though when the receiver enjoys it more when it they know who it is from, so it’s appropriate to do it non-anonymously. Still doesn’t make it a transaction where I am expecting anything other than their benefit and enjoyment.

              1. Sigrid*

                I have to admit, not having grown up giving (or receiving) thank-you cards, I find the concept baffling. I don’t give gifts because I want thanks, I give gifts because I want the recipient to have a gift! The few times I’ve received a thank-you note for a gift as an adult, I’ve been VERY confused. I had no idea it was A Thing! I still don’t understand it, but I’m glad to know that there exists a social convention that I should be following and haven’t been. I will write thank-you notes in the future.

                1. Cordelia Naismith*

                  So if you gave someone a gift and they never said thank you, you’d be okay with that?

      6. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I put a ton of care and thought into my thank you notes, thank you very much. To say otherwise simply because it doesn’t take as long as it takes you is… mind-boggling. When I am sincerely thankful for something and sincerely glad I got a chance to see the giver, or sorry I missed that person, it doesn’t take me that long to write down that thought. It’s not “perfunctory”, it’s heartfelt. And I don’t think I’m alone.

      7. Zillah*

        2.5 or 5 minutes? You must not put much thought or care into your thank you notes. Mine always go through a draft, rewrite, then polish process that takes at least ten minutes (not counting the time for gathering supplies, addressing, sealing, stamping etc) – longer if I really care about the person or was particularly touched by their gift.

        That’s really nice of you and I’m sure it’s appreciated by the people you’re thanking, but I don’t feel like it’s fair to say that anyone who doesn’t go through that fairly extensive procedure isn’t putting thought or care into their thank yous.

        I also think, tbh, that there’s real danger in the idea that something isn’t meaningful or worth doing if it’s not done perfectly. A thank you doesn’t need to include enough detail to require drafts and polishing to be genuine and personal.

      8. SystemsLady*

        I totally agree. I don’t really understand why thank you notes (the way they are, at least) are such a big thing here in the US.

        The way we’re expected to pop them out feels really insincere to me. If I was at the event in person and saw the person opening the gift, I really wouldn’t care if I got one at all, but if I do get one, I much prefer reading the personalized ones (which would’ve taken much more than two minutes to write) to the “Thank you for the ____! It was great to see you! Thanks again!” form letters. The latter read really insincere to me – not that I actually think people who send those are being insincere or ungrateful, but it’s just weird to me that people get so hung up over getting/not getting a note that reads like that.

        Now if I’ve sent or received a gift by mail, that’s a little different – of course the sender wants acknowledgement that their gift was received. Not to mention that if you’re writing thank you notes in the form letter format and they’re late, I’d be annoyed (I’d use an Excel spreadsheet and some Internet service to bulk print the cards and envelopes for me- just need a sign and a stamp – before letting a note in that format be late, personally).

        But, personally, anxiety over trying to push in a personal note to each and every wedding guest on “my side” is why mine were so late.

        1. SystemsLady*

          Of course, I do write thank you notes, because I understand that a lot of people find them important. And I don’t judge people who write “form letters” because I recognize this is a weird hangup of mine (unless they’re late and there’s no otherwise good reason for them to be late).

          And of course some people can write very heartfelt letters in two minutes! I am definitely not one of those people and I doubt Chartreuse is either.

          This is just me – maybe some of those points are where the conflict and confusion is coming from.

          1. Jaydee*

            It can take me drafts and longer than 5 minutes to end up with a formulaic, “perfunctory”-looking thank-you note. I have a terrible mix of social anxiety, perfectionism, and Michael Scott when it comes to writing thank-you notes.

            First, I try to think of something witty or creative or deep and profound or especially meaningful to write.

            Second, I latch onto one idea and write multiple drafts until it’s perfect.

            Third, I realize that my great aunt doesn’t want to read a limerick in which I rhymed “salad bowls” with “dinner rolls.” She wants to know (and what I really want to tell her is) that 1) I was happy she and my great uncle were able to come to my wedding because I know that it’s hard to travel when you’re in your 70s; 2) I miss my grandparents like crazy, so seeing their siblings and siblings-in-law on a day I wish I could share with my grandparents helps to fill that void a little, and I know it makes my mom happy too; 3) my husband and I love the salad bowls and suddenly feel like actual grownups with dishes made of something other than plastic, let alone dishes that have a specific purpose.

            So, 20 minutes later (and 3 cards – because one time I messed up the “l” in “bowls” very unfortunately and it looked too much like an “e” and one time I forgot a word, so a whole sentence didn’t make sense), I end up with the following entirely truthful but not very spectacular thank-you note:

            “Dear Uncle Frank and Aunt Anne:
            Thank you so much for sharing in our special day. It was wonderful to see you again, and I am so glad we were able to have breakfast together with Ron and Kathy and my parents on Sunday! The salad bowl set is lovely – James and I can’t wait to use them when we have friends over.

            And yes I did start crying while writing a fake sample thank-you note in a comment on a blog, because even though I got married 10 years ago and I haven’t seen “Uncle Frank and Aunt Anne” since then (and actually “Aunt Anne” passed away a few years ago), I’m a huge sap and everything in that note is accurate except the names, and the salad bowls are really nice, and now that I think of it, we should use them tomorrow for dinner, which reminds me I should text my husband a list of what salad toppings I want when he goes to the store after work tomorrow.

      9. Melissa*

        I agree with all of this comment! I write thank-you notes to others because I know they will be expected (although I definitely don’t spend more than ~3 minutes on each one), but I couldn’t care less whether I got one or not. I prefer seeing the reaction in the moment and getting a verbal thank you. And if we’re at a big event where they can’t thank me in the moment (like a wedding), I just assume that they enjoyed the gift and/or will return it and get something they do like. It doesn’t matter to me, because what’s important is the experience of giving the gift. I like picking up the gift, wrapping the gift…it’s fun. I like imagining how the person will feel when using the gift. A thank you card isn’t really doing anything for me.

    5. Tenn*

      Even birthday or holiday gifts to nieces and nephews — one side of my family just flat-out doesn’t ever say anything, not even a text that says THNX or GOT IT. I mean it’s actually super-gross.

      1. Artemesia*

        I am happy with a phone call or an email — it doesn’t have to be a note and I’d rather have a charming personal email than a perfunctory note although unlike Chartreuse I don’t see a charming personal note as being time consuming or a big deal to write. What I don’t want, will resent and will drop the person from my giving list is no personal acknowledgement.

        1. StarHopper*

          I am having that dilemma right now. I send gifts to my nowhere and nephew who live out of state, and really, I don’t expect a thank you note. But is it too much to ask that my brother acknowledge it in a phone call our email? If it weren’t for Amazon’s tracking info, I wouldn’t even know of it arrived. I’m not looking for effusive praise, but I wonder, do they even like the gifts I pick out? Should I stop bothering? The kids are 2 & 4, so it’s not their fault.

          1. Noelle*

            This. I have five nieces and nephews under the age of 5. Whenever I buy anything for my sister’s kids, I get a call or text when they get it, and a thank you note later. She actually does a really cute thing where she takes a picture of the kid enjoying the present. With my brother, I have never received any acknowledgement whatsoever when I send his kids presents. Of course I’m going to get my nieces and nephews presents, but seriously, their parents can’t take 5 minutes to call me?

    6. GHL*

      I’ve followed up on a mailed gift before – 6 months after the wedding and no thank you note! I was worried it had actually gotten lost in the mail.

      Turns out, they never got it – after searching through my purchase records I NEVER ACTUALLY SENT IT. When I logged into the website again it was STILL in my shopping bag. So, here I was thinking they were rude for not sending a thank you when they were thinking I was rude for not sending a gift! Oh well, it was within the 1 year but gah I felt like an idiot :/

    7. ZenCat*

      I love to write thank you notes but not many of my friends do (unless it is something “official” and standard practice like a wedding). Granted many are late twenties meaning it’s usually a text or pic text of something or an in person thank you even after I see them again. I love to give gifts and love to receive mail but a thank you note isn’t that important to me. I would still ask if someone received something though.

      The way I like to say thanks is to mention things later (if they’re true and I remember) like with my parents who got me a fancy coffee machine I’ll mention sometimes if I try something new (they love coffee too) and say thank you again for the machine. Those are my absolute favorite thank you’s… When I get those I remember them and feel good and it helps me on future gifts if applicable! I got a friend a weird kitchen gadget and still get pics of the crazy things she will make.

      It matters to me in that I feel appreciated but it’s bot required. Nobody sent thank you notes in my family, I thankfully grew up with an unhealthy office supply fetish and became polite by accident.

      I think it was very rude to ask where the card was but at the same time that’s a really long time without a note for a wedding where it’s sort of required socially.

    8. jpnadia*

      I spend at least ten minutes per thank-you note, because it takes me that long to come up with something both related and sufficiently personal. It’s harder (longer) for gift cards and cash that I have no clue how I’ll spend. It sounds like you’re quicker than me at thank-you notes!

      That said, I personally would rather abolish all gift-giving occasions. I don’t want more stuff, and if I want stuff, I’d rather buy it myself in a way that doesn’t feel subject to someone else’s approval.

    9. Another Steve G*

      People getting married brings rudeness out of the woodwork. My wife and I got married last year and it was a nonstop battle for control between all the women involved (fiance, mom, sister, MIL). Now I don’t speak to my parents. Don’t get married.

      1. Melissa*

        Or rather, don’t have a big fancy wedding and/or get sucked into the ridiculous wedding machinery.

  2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

    Whoa – are there really 150 thank yous for the wedding shower? I’m assuming that some of those are for the wedding itself, in which case you need to focus on getting the shower thank yous finished before you work on the wedding gifts.

    My husband and I just plunked down at a coffee shop for a long day and cranked them out (we only had around 40). We wrote kick-ass thank yous, too. Really personal, with stories and jokes. I wrote the cards for my husband’s invites and he wrote them for mine.

    1. KarenT*

      In some cultures all of the women invited to the wedding are invited to the shower . If you have a large wedding of say 400 guests, you could easily have 150 guests at your shower. I’ve been to some pretty large showers.

      1. Newsie*

        Just chiming in to say I’ve definitely been to a shower that large. And I just recalled that even though this girl and I were decent friends I’ve never received a thank you note. It’s been a year. Hm.

        Git ‘er done, OP. I had a friend who would do 3 thank yous in the morning and 3 at night, every day, even while planning. At some point it even became a break from planning. Not fun, but courtesy is contagious, as they say.

        (By the way, your friend may also be concerned that her gift got lost and is awkwardly making sure you got it or it wasn’t stolen at the shower. I’m currently wondering if a new mom got the adorable baby clothes I sent the munchkin. I could see myself asking something like, “Oh hey, Katniss, did you get those adorable baby dresses I sent?” But I’m so concerned about that coming across forward or rude that I haven’t asked. Because I’m awkward as all heck, and because of the sentiment you’re expressing.)

        Alison, I enjoy that you answered this.

        1. Kristinyc*

          My wedding was two weeks before hurricane Sandy, so we just knocked out the thank you notes all at once since we had a week off for the hurricane. We had been keeping up with them when people sent gifts early, so it was manageable. I also didn’t have a wedding shower.

          Op- of all the weddings I’ve been to for my friends, the people who wrote thank you notes (even if it took a while) are all still happily married. The three couples who didn’t write them at all were all divorced 1-2 years later. I think there’s a correlation. (So yes, write them! As soon as you can! And congrats!)

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            Wait, we got mailed some gifts by people who were invited but couldn’t come, and some by people who were flying to see us and just had items shipped to us for convenience, but I don’t think we opened any of them before the wedding. That would have felt weird to me, I felt like I should wait until after the wedding to open them, but I guess if you wait until after the wedding to send the thank-yous, it really doesn’t matter.

            1. fposte*

              It’s perfectly fine to send the thanks before the wedding, though. I think we get overinfluenced by the “don’t open until Christmas” tradition and feel like we’re cheating if we open early even when there’s no custom against it. And once you’ve opened, it’s fine to thank people.

            2. Artemesia*

              The norm is to open gifts as they come in and thank people for them. In times past, ALL gifts would be delivered before the wedding and displayed in the bride’s home. It isn’t a birthday party.

              1. mirror*

                Oh my just learning another thing my family did backwards! When I told my parents we had opened one of our wedding presents (this was a couple weeks before the wedding, but the presents had been sitting in the corner of our living room for a few weeks already!) they were horrified. Apparently we broke some super important etiquette rule that doesnt make sense.

                It was like cursing our wedding. This is a *wedding* present and you are not *wed.* Their reasoning was “Now what if you dont get married? What if you break up?! You can’t keep that present!” Uhh…if we did break up, we’d still need to open the present to find out who to return it to!!

                1. CanadianMom*

                  I think a lot of this is cultural/regional.
                  IME, most shower gifts are still fairly inexpensive household items – $30 or less. Most brides do include these on their registries, anticipating that guests will buy the less expensive ones for shower presents and the more expensive ones for wedding gifts.
                  And again – most showers are fairly intimate affairs – 20 guests or fewer. The bride has plenty of opportunity to interact with everyone and give sincere verbal thanks for each gift. So TY notes for showers aren’t considered mandatory, although in certain cases (such as a guest who couldn’t attend but sent a gift with another guest) they would be necessary. And for a shower with a huge guest list, they’d probably be necessary as the bride might not have had an opportunity to do much than wave at a guest.

                  But weddings are considered to be more formal events no matter what the size of the guest list, and TY notes are always considered to be appropriate.

                2. Anna*

                  Exactly! If there was no wedding, you still need to sort out what to do with the gifts! It’s not like the boxes magically disappear if things don’t work out.

        2. Nobody*

          Yeah, I don’t care about getting a handwritten thank-you note, but I would like some acknowledgment that the person received my gift — even an e-mail, text, Facebook message, or phone call would do it. My cousin got married last year, and she sent a prompt thank-you note for the shower gift but not the wedding gift (which was shipped directly to her home), so I’m left wondering if she received my wedding gift and knew it was from me. I would feel rude asking about it, though.

          Maybe this can be a new thing for Alison, answering a random non-work-related question every weekend!

          1. Newsie*

            Yes! I sent two baby gifts on the same day. (2 different babies, 2 different mothers.) While I haven’t received a note/email/telegram/semaphore from Mom 1, Mom 2 sent me a Facebook message that was short but grateful. She’s dealing with a mewling creature who can’t sleep through the night. I get it. But she was kind and polite, and that reminded me of all of her other positive qualities.

            The point being: I don’t require a flowery note expressing beautiful poetry etc. I received a Facebook message, and I smiled as widely as if I got to hold the baby. Wedding showers have their own etiquette, but I feel like one needs to at least acknowledge a gift.

            1. the gold digger*

              Oh yeah – baby presents require almost nothing! New parents are super busy. And I only send baby presents to very close friends anyhow and I wouldn’t be close friends with someone who had not already proven to be a wonderful friend. I don’t care if I get a thank you note for a baby present. I already know what my friend is like.

              But sometimes you get invited to showers and weddings to people to whom you are not that close – that’s where it gets a little more annoying not to get a response. When a co-worker does not send a thank you note for a shower present (although this has never happened – I work with very considerate people) or a cousin (I have 26 first cousins, so am not close to all of them) does not send a thank you for a wedding present, then there is no strong friendship to fall back on. Then it feels a little gift grabby.

    2. fposte*

      I might prioritize the wedding thanks over the shower thanks, in fact; the people weren’t there to see if you received their wedding gift, and if they don’t get a thank you, they don’t know if it went astray or not. Baby showers you generally get to see the thing opened.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      It’s also possible that there was more than one wedding shower. Her mother might have thrown one for her family/friends of the family. Her people at work might have thrown one. Her friends might have done one. Her future MIL might have done one. If she was involved with any significant organisations — such as being really involved in church — there might have been another one there. When my sister got married, her future MIL threw her a shower at her church so that all her Church Lady friends could come.

    4. ZSD*

      I was thinking the same thing. The couple times my mother has been invited to bridal showers with 100 women in attendance, she’s called me to talk about how weird it was that so many people were invited. I think I had about 20 guests at my shower (compared to about 300 people invited to the wedding, ~180 of whom came). I wonder if in this case, “Where is my thank-you card?” is code for, “What were you thinking inviting so many people to your shower that you wouldn’t even have time to send them all thank-yous?”

  3. KarenT*


    Definitely send it, but not too often. Keep the rest in a folder for your PA or when you need a pick me up.

    1. OP2*

      Good idea cause there are definitely times I’ve needed a pick me up so this is a great way to do it

    2. Jaune Desprez*

      I keep a folder of good feedback so I can give it to my manager in advance of my annual review. They may or not remember things I’ve forwarded to them throughout the year, so I make sure they have a reminder when it counts. A couple of managers have mentioned that it was very helpful to them.

      1. Merry and Bright*

        I did this too in an old job. It worked well.

        In the contract I finished a few weeks ago the thing when someone sent praise or thanks by email was to copy in your manager at the same time. Different places.

  4. Yas Queen*

    #2 – Could it be that a) she’s not sure if you actually received her gift and this was her way of clarifying that or b) she’s not sure if your thank you note reached her?

    1. Sara*

      The wording the OP used makes me think not, but I had the same thought. My brother- and sister-in-law have been married for about two years and have yet to write any thank you notes for any gifts received in connection to their wedding (shower, wedding itself, whatever else you have to write thank you notes for…). In the first six months, my mother-in-law got a lot of calls from friends of hers who had shipped gifts to the couple, concerned that the lack of acknowledgement meant the gift had been lost in the mail or otherwise misplaced. Nope. They got it all. They’re just being inconsiderate.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The fact that OP has sent thank you notes sporadically to some, but not all, her shower guests makes me think that this friend has spoken with someone who *has* been thanked, and she feels overlooked and underappreciated in light of that.

      Send her one that really tells her why her gift (and she) are very much appreciated, and let go of the fact that she confronted you with this.

      1. Joline*

        I think that’s a really good point if the guests know each other. I don’t really care about receiving thank you cards but if I heard that several other people got them and I didn’t I’d be wondering what was up.

  5. Amber*

    #2 Actually I would do it by replying back to the sender & CC my boss and have your reply be something like “Thank you so much Jane, I really appreciate that!”

    That way you’re just indirectly looping in your manager instead of forwarding it directly to them saying “hey look at me”.

    1. OP2*

      Thanks Amber, I’ve done both actually. The one you suggested and cc’d her in. She replied back separately saying that she agreed I’d done good work and was glad Jane appreciated it.
      I’ve also sent one which was just a quick like Alison suggested saying “I just recieved this really nice thank you email on X project trip and just wanted to make you aware. As you know X project trip was a tough one so I really appreciated the thank you from Jane” kinda thing.
      Thanks for replying, I just wasn’t sure if it would come across as seeking out acknowledgement but my boss is HR and I’m a PA so doesn’t have a huge amount of day to day input into my role, she’s a hands off manager which I love as I know she has confidence in my self management but also wanted to know my stake holders are happy with my work enough to send a detailed thank you email

      1. Adam*

        Good managers love hearing how well their staff are doing from unbiased outside sources. It gives them something to go off of when filling out those pesky performance evaluations.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Late to the conversation but I’ll chime in anyway:

        Don’t forget, if you work for me and you forward a compliment about your work, it’s also complimenting me. (At least, that’s how I take it. :-) ). It’s complimenting either my choice in having you work for me or our good internal process that helped you please someone to compliment.

        So, in my world, don’t be shy. We love compliments!

        *obv the original compliment belongs to the person complimented, but there’s a radiating effect that doesn’t diminish with the original person receives.

    2. anon17*

      For me, feedback usually goes to my boss or my boss’s boss and trickles back down to me. Once or twice I received something that I just forwarded to my boss with no message. Is that awful? I just couldn’t think of anything to write, and even some of the ideas here just sound too “look at me.” I only forwarded them in the first place because I read here that bosses like to know. I’m just not a public praise person.

  6. HA!*

    “This isn’t a workplace question, but it’s Saturday so what the hell, I’ll answer it.”

    Too bad it’s not Wednesday.

  7. ZenCat*

    #1 – I think it’s great to want to have your job offer fully complete. A company I worked for in the past would hire and allow people to start without going through background or a required drug test. They’d drag their feet and frequently people would be fired within their first 1-2 weeks of training. Awful!

  8. Dan*


    The issue I have is that I have no idea what “contingent upon passing a background check” really means. I’m not being obtuse. We all know what “squeaky clean” means, bit what’s enough to fail? Nobody spelles that out in the recruitment/offer materials.

    For criminal records, you can have everything from an arrest with no conviction to doing a don’t for armed robbery.

    For credit checks, there’s everything from a 30 day late to multiple bankruptcies. How bad does it have to be to tank tour job offer?

    I have yet to be in that position, but I won’t give notice until my background check is completed either.

    1. Stephanie*

      Isn’t notification required in some states if you do fail a background or credit check? I remember getting a copy of one I passed via some state’s law.

      1. Snowglobe*

        It’s a federal law that if you are denied credit because of something in your credit report, you must be notified in writing with the name and address of the credit reporting agency.

      2. OfficePrincess*

        But if you’ve already left your old job, at that point it’s too late. Knowing what thing from your past just lost you a job doesn’t make you any less unemployed.

      3. Jessa*

        Yes but even with notification, you’d probably get it after you’ve been declined and they go with someone else. I do not think the notification rule requires them to tell you and let you give a rebuttal before they decide “nope, not you.” Just that they have to tell you they based their decision on such and such a check.

      4. MinB*

        Washington state definitely has that. I process the background check paperwork for my workplace and I have to get signed permission to run one and send the results to the person in a short period of time (it’s either a week or 10 days, can’t remember off the top of my head) after the results come back.

    2. It'sOnlyMe*

      Not too long ago I was in the unfortunate position of having a job offer retracted due to problems with a background check. I was offered an internal promotion which was scheduled to start a week after the offer; the morning following the offer I get a personal visit from our Chief accompanied by HR (which in itself was unusual) with the retraction and an apology.

      It turns out that the new position required a higher level of security clearance than I had and as I had lived overseas for some time, the new clearance would take several weeks to process. The new position needed to be filled immediately so I missed it. As it turns out, that was probably for the best.

    3. neverjaunty*

      Or, if they screw up and get you confused with someone else….

      AAM is right. It’s ridiculous for a company to expect you’ll treat an offer as firm when it’s not a firm officer.

    4. Coelura*

      I just finished a round of hiring – close to 20 people. The only people who did not insist on waiting to give notice until after their background checks were complete were the ones who were already unemployed. One of the challenges is that the background check confirms all previous positions, degrees and certifications listed on the resume. For someone who has been working for 20+ years, this isn’t always super easy. One of my new hires had worked at a couple of places that had been acquired. His background check took a month! Another guy is much younger and has only worked one place. His check took two days. My recruiter pushed everyone hard to give notice before the background check was complete, but accepted when the candidate refused.

      1. Audiophile*

        When I was finishing up a second round with a organization, they notified me that they would be running a background check and contacting references. (I had forgotten to put my SSN on a form for them.) I believe once my background check came back, they started contacting references.

        They waited to speak to all three before making an offer and once they spoke to the final one, they made a verbal offer. I knew my background would be fine, since I have one degree and that college can confirm I graduated from there, also all the companies I’ve worked for are still in existence. I’m not sure how they confirmed employment, since most of my jobs were contracted through a staffing type agency that handles security. They may have just contacted the individual companies and asked for verification, since I don’t list the security agency on my resume.

        I definitely didn’t put my two weeks in before I had an official offer and new everything was clear. But no one pressured me to put in notice either. Like the OP I’d hold firm on committing to putting in two weeks notice and a start date. Anything could come up, and you don’t want to be completely jobless.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        You should discourage your recruiter from pushing people to do that! If one of those people had given in and then not passed the background, they’d be job-less. That’s not cool of your recruiter to push.

      3. sam*

        My credit is fine, but BOTH law firms that I’ve worked for (for the bulk of my career) no longer exist. They’ve both gone bankrupt following my departure. So far I’ve been able to cover my periods working at these firms by keeping in touch with several individual partners that I worked for, who are willing to verify my employment at those firms even though they are now working at other places (although “please call this random person I know at this wholly-unrelated company” doesn’t necessarily seem like the strongest check, it’s worked so far).

        The funniest one though, was when converting from a contractor to a permanent resource at my current job, the background check people couldn’t seem verify my employment with the contractor I was employed by. Even though I was actively engaged through that contractor at what is now my employer and had been for a full year. It was completely ridiculous. We finally got it sorted, but even my boss at employer was like *I* can verify your employment with contractor. I signed a contract with them! and you’ve been sitting in our offices for the last year! the only thing we could figure was that contractor had a name that was in use by a lot of companies, and the background check company kept calling the wrong one, instead of calling the contact information I had explicitly given them.

    5. Lauren*

      I agree, some background checks do include credit stuff so they will weed people out for bankruptcy, too high balances, hell even skipping mentioning a job from 10 years is enough to kill a job offer. When I go through background checks, I know that my degree date is diff on my resume from reality, and I mention that. I put 2002 since I walked that year and finished by the summer. But my degree wasn’t printed until 2003 (college only prints them once a year) so any background check will show this anomaly. I may not pass because of this.

      1. sam*

        I would actually footnote that on your resume – something like “completed studies 2002 (degree awarded 2003)”.

        That would explain the discrepancy.

  9. Sail On, Sailor*

    Regarding #5: I agree that it sounds like the guest was trying to make sure their present was received.

    And Alison, you rock as an etiquette advisor! I think you should start another blog.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      In the thread Alison did about running the blog she mentioned that she used to give dating advice too. I bet that rocked also.

  10. Stephanie*

    #1: Good for you. Even if you don’t have any kind of criminal record, there are still verification logistics that could delay clearing the background check. I’m thinking of things like it taking longer to verify employment at a business that closed or verify residency at temporary housing. I’ve moved a lot, so it could also take longer to do criminal checks in several different jurisdictions.

    #2: Forward to your boss, but start a folder for this stuff. That stuff is good to have on hand when you’re trying to recall accomplishments for a resume, performance self-evaluation, or cover letter.

    #5: I never got a thank-you for my friend’s wedding gift and was a little annoyed. Not because I wanted the note (although I do love receiving mail that isn’t alumni donation solicitations, credit card offers, or bills), but because their registry was such a shameless gift grab. They were registered at Williams-Sonoma…when neither of them really cooks. So it was sort of like “Hey, can I at least get a tiny acknowledgement that I bought you this ridiculous gift you won’t use?*” But I never asked her flat out.

    *I was hoping she perhaps turned over a new (cooking) leaf with all the gifts, but no. The majority of the stuff was at her parents’ for a couple of years, still in the boxes.

    1. lonepear*

      I don’t understand the idea of a gift grab for things you don’t even care about enough to unbox! I can understand building up a fantasy of your perfect amazing kitchen and filling it with things you end up using only as decoration for your Barbie dream house–even if you never cook at least it may give you some pleasure to know you could if you wanted to, or that your friends will be impressed by your amazing kitchen, or something. But if you just want to make people spend money on showering you with gifts, why not at least ask for things you want?

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Some people are just… not nice. When my sister was getting married, I found out that her MIL had invited some people because, and I quote, “they give good gifts.” I was astonished that anyone could be like that. Some people really, truly are just about getting stuff and that’s sad.

      2. sam*

        My dad and stepmom, being older when they got married and having several homes full of stuff, registered for a few things at Bloomingdales basically because they knew some people would actually want to just buy things off a registry with guidance, but the main thing they registered for were things for their garden – they ended up with 14 new apple trees at their local nursery, and when we have a good apple year, it results in a ridiculous number of apple pies that are shared with many family and friends. Best wedding gift ever.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oooh, that’s really cool. If I were to get married, I think I would do something along those lines. I kind of have a lot of the “traditional” registry items already (I already have a ton of kitchen stuff, including appliances like a stand mixer and blender).

        2. Anna*

          I think it’s getting more common for people to register for honeymoons. I’ve seen it done two different ways. My best friend and her now-husband listed out specific things like “couples massage” or “appetizers and two drinks” and I thought that was a lot of fun. My husband and I got them tickets to Harry Potter World since they were going to Orlando for their honeymoon. The other honeymoon registry, which was less fun, was just for a honeymoon pot. So you gave whatever amount you wanted and it went in toward the overall trip. I fully support this for people who have already established all their household needs and don’t need more stuff. They also wrote thank you notes and included photos from the trip, which was really cute.

    2. Colette*

      Background checks can take longer than you’d think they would. When I moved from contracting to being an employee, the check took a couple of weeks – long enough that they had to extend my contract so that all of my access wouldn’t get shut off.

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      #1 I have a background check in progress right now for becoming an Uber driver (part of my desire, mentioned in the Friday open thread) for more customer service centered work. It’s been over a week since they started it.

        1. BRR*

          In the spirit of reader feedback I would be very interested if this was your next post in the interview series.

      1. Adam*

        I’ve considered doing Uber to make some extra money. I’d love a report on the experience if you end up doing it!

  11. Apollo Warbucks*

    #1 last time I moved jobs I got the offer in August and didn’t start until November, it took forever to get my employement contract together and there was no way I was resigning before I had the formal offer, then when I got the offer the recruiter asked if I could get out of the four weeks notice I needed to give as they’d been waiting for me for a while. “Erm no, no I cant and I would even try, I’m obligated to give the notice and I will be working it”

    I think it’s quite right to have an unconditional offer before resigning from your current job and in your case and mine, it’s the new company’s hiring process that are defining the date so if it’s not quick enough then they need to deal with that themselves.

    1. Artemesia*

      So agree. I know two people who accepted wonderful new jobs and left a solid job to take them and then had the new companies re-organize almost immediately and they lost the new job. In neither case was it a matter of them not being effective. One was a national reorganization where the local function disappeared; the other was a new boss who swept out people hired by the old boss. When my husband was out of work when we moved for my job he searched high and low and finally had two offers — thank goodness he accepted the one with the state which was slightly lower in pay but had good benefits because the poor schlub who accepted the second position was gone in a month when the position was cut.

      Job seekers are really treated horrifyingly badly in the US — I’d never give notice without a firm offer and even then it is prudent to have done homework on the company because employment at will means they can screw you over callously and will.

  12. Jane*

    #5. Did you thank her in person when she gave you the gift? Technically you don’t have to write thank you cards for gifts received and unwrapped in person. (Don’t get me started.) However, if she mailed the gift or there were too many gifts to individually thank people, suck it up and write the note.

    I do not particularly enjoy writing handwritten anything, so my husband and I split the thank you’s 50/50.

    1. NW Cat Lady*

      I am of the opinion that you and your spouse SHOULD split the thank you’s. The idea that it’s the wife’s place to write all the thank you’s is outdated, from a time when women didn’t work outside the home; when their job was to run the household and take care of the children.

      1. Green*

        Depends if it was a bridal shower or a wedding. If it’s a bridal shower (which I hate and did not have, but whatev) then the gifts are presumably “for the bride.”

      2. Cat*

        I always think it’s a little weird when I primarily know the husband but get a thank you note in first person from the wife (invariably signed by both parties but . . .).

    2. MK*

      Be glad you don’t live in my country. No one writes or expects notes, but te custom is to call everyone to thank them.

      1. Chartreuse*

        Oh, I like that, actually! In person thank you’s are so much more warm and real than some card.

      2. Kai*

        Oh man, that would cause me so much anxiety. I’m perfectly happy to write a thank-you note for a gift (and I love receiving them, too!).

    3. Chartreuse*

      Jane, you say “don’t get me started” as though this is a policy that really bothers you. May I ask what it is about an paper card that is so terribly important to you – especially if the recipient *was* very appreciative in person? When I give gifts what’s important to me is they get to enjoy the gift, not in what manner I get thanked.

      1. Jane*

        Oh, I meant “don’t get me started” on people expecting handwritten thank you notes when they were profusely thanked in person. I don’t see the point. However, where I live, some people expect to receive thank you cards for EVERYTHING (taking someone out to lunch, gifts given in person one-on-one, etc.)

        1. Chartreuse*

          Oh! I agree with that totally! I remember being very surprised on several occasions when I have received thank you cards for things where I was either already thanked in person, or it is not something particularly out of the ordinary – close relatives sending a thank you note after spending an informal lunch and an afternoon at the house. That second one I found especially strange because in my mind, that’s just what you do with family – you spend time with each other, it isn’t something extra and out of the ordinary that would require a special formal thank you apart from just warm hugs when leaving and big smiles next time we see each other. We enjoyed their time with us so much that if a thank you card is “owed” for spending time with relatives, then we probably owed them a thank you card for coming out to our place! It felt strange for family to be sending a card as though it had been a formal dinner party between mere social acquaintances.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            The kind of thank you cards I hate are the ones that come after funerals. I didn’t know that was A Thing until I got one in the mail and I was horrified that this poor person who was grieving sat down and wrote a card because I went to the visitation. IMO, that’s barbaric. I now make it a point to not sign the guest register because I don’t want to burden whoever it is with having to send a card. That is probably “wrong” and there will be people who are going to comment that I should sign, that they appreciated seeing all the names/whatever, I deserve it if I sent flowers or made a donation — Nope. I don’t want it. I go to funerals/visitations to say good bye/pay my respects/tell the family I’m sorry for their loss and I do not need to be thanked for that with a card or a call or anything after the fact.

      2. Jane*

        I guess I see thank you cards as kind of outdated, and being expected to send them in situations where they shouldn’t really be required just seems kind of wasteful. I mean, most of them will end up in a recycle bin (at best).

        1. fposte*

          Sure, but most of the gifts will end up boxed in the attic, too, and they involve a lot more resource use than the thank you card. If we’re going to stop waste, the place to stop it is before the gift gets given, not before the thank-you get sent. And gifts aren’t any more of a requirement than thanks–I’d argue less, in fact, because gratitude is more important than presents.

          1. Avocado*

            Wow. Maybe it’s because my friends are all poor twentysomethings, but that is not remotely my experience with how gifts are treated. Most of us don’t even have enough storage space to shove gifts aside and forget about them completely.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Are all your friends married and had wedding showers? I don’t know anyone who got married and didn’t get some gifts they don’t use. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I’m saying it’s very very very common for it to happen.

            2. fposte*

              That’s fine, but it still took more resources to box the thing than it did to send a card, and if you use the gift, then that’s even more reason why you need to thank the person who gave it to you.

              In short, I’ve never heard an argument for not writing thank-you cards that didn’t apply as much or more to not giving presents in the first place.

  13. T*

    I had this happen to me when I got my first full time job. I’d just accepted a part time job and the full time job offer from a big company came unexpectedly. They didn’t need me to start for 5/6 weeks but I was provisionally offered the job dependent on references. I very much got the sense that the offer might be pulled if I didnt agree. Because I’d only been working at the part time position for a couple of days and know they’d had trouble getting someone in I felt I had to let them know right away. They ended up finding someone quite quickly and I was only needed for another week or so. The new company then didn’t send the contract and acceptance letter until the week before!! Waiting that long was rather stressful and caused me to wonder whether I’d done the right thing. On the other hand I’m glad I didn’t take it as a red flag as now I’m in the job I love it!

  14. LizH*

    #5. From gift giver side a few ways of looking at this. I once sent a baby gift to my best friend who lived in Philly at the time. No response from her which was extremely unusual. Checked with her, long story short, turns out gift was stolen off her doorstep. So, very glad I checked.
    Last year, while I was unemployed, invited to a baby shower. It was a family member, who knew of my situation. It was a lot of time and planning to get her something off her registry. $50 May not seem like a lot to spend on a gift for family, but I was in a spot where every penny counted, and I could have used that money for something else. It was given out of love, but I never received a thank you. Clincher was that there was a basket of blank thank you notes, all we had to do was put our address on the envelope. This was a year ago, and it still bugs me.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, God, I’ve heard of that. It’d be tempting to be ready with an empty wrapped box for such people.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I used to send gifts to my sister/her children. It was always a huge PITA to make sure they were boxed up/mailed to they got there in time. All I ever wanted was just the acknowledgement that they had received it — because sometimes things get lost in the mail or stolen off the front porch. It’s one thing to use your tracking number to see that it was delivered, it’s another thing to know the person got it. So when she couldn’t even be bothered to let me know they had received it in a simple e-mail, I stopped… and my life has been so much more peaceful ever since.

      1. SJP*

        It’s such a shame that family members forget the ease and worth of a simple thank you. It costs nothing. From a young age my parents drilled into me and my sister about how we must always say thank you for things given to us, how ever small.
        Family would send us a present at christmas an birthdays and I’d always ring up and thank them for their gift and how much I liked it etc. My family also reciprocated and send gifts to my cousins.. we never received a thank you, even when they got old enough to call us themselves (teenagers etc) and in the end just stopped sending them. It really hurt my mum to not get a thank you.
        People, make sure your kids call family and thank them for gifts and they absolutely do not have to send presents!!!!!

  15. Merry and Bright*

    #5 I can see why you would be miffed if someone chased you up about a thank you note. But three months seems a long time to have received a wedding gift and not sent a thank you.

    Once when I was a child, my mum confiscated some christmas presents until I wrote my thank you letters. It taught me a lesson a I never forgot.

    1. StarHopper*

      I did that with my wedding gifts! We aren’t allowed to use them until the thank you note had been sent. It provided much-needed incentive!

      One of the most thoughtful things my friends who hosted my baby shower did was to provide pre-addressed, stamped envelopes for each invitee with a set of blank thank you notes. So sweet!

  16. Lady VonTrapp*

    On #1…UGH, yes. I had this same exact experience. I was told it was a minor thing, and I was nervous because I had a minor incident with the police as a teen but it was supposed to be wiped from my record. However, I don’t know what other things they’re looking for and it scares me. I did quit my job before it was completed though, and nothing seems to be wrong.

    On #3 my strategy has been to apply through the normal process then wait a a week and contact them. Some people like aggressiveness and some don’t so it’s hard to say. If I’ve had regular communication with a hiring manager I just say hello if they know I’ve done good work. In most industries people seem to prefer people they know to people they don’t even if that’s a really dumb way to hire.

  17. OfficePrincess*

    Just to play devil’s advocate, there can be reasons for thank you notes going out late, though we don’t see indication of that here. But it’s not always because the receiver is a bad person.

    I had a death in the family the day I got back from my honeymoon. There were also some pretty complicated family dynamics that had made the wedding a challenge and this just highlighted it. It led to a rough couple months. I couldn’t think about the wedding without thinking about the family issues and the death. Having aunts call all snarky about thank you cards didn’t help the situation. Eventually My husband helped me crank them out, but they were all superficial. At that point, I still couldn’t think about it, but I was able to numb myself and get it done.

      1. OfficePrincess*

        Maybe I’m still a little sensitive from what I’ve been through, but I would have to disagree. This thread has definitely taken on a vibe of “if you don’t get thank you notes out on time you’re a horrible person and don’t deserve anything from anyone ever again”. I did acknowledge that I didn’t see an indication that th OP had anything similar going on, but there has been a lot of negativity towards any delay in getting thank you notes out.

    1. Stuck in the Snow*

      I hear you on that, OfficePrincess. My mother died the day after my wedding, and the week after I had to begin the process of cleaning out her house and readying it for sale. Thank-you notes didn’t all get out until the end of the summer. But everyone was aware of the situation, and understood that we were limping along while working full-time, grieving, etc., and doing the best that we could under very trying circumstances. Normal people, healthy people, get that.

      There was only one person who made it all about them, despite having been thanked in person, on the phone, and sent a very nasty note two months after the wedding about having not gotten *her* thank-you note. Sadly, it was on the stack that I was writing the same evening that her reprimand arrived in the mail. I wrote that note, and that’s the last interaction I plan to have with her ever.

      1. Graciosa*

        “I am so sorry that the sudden death of my beloved mother delayed my expression of joy over your kind gift of a toaster.”

        The advantage of handwritten notes is that they can be customized appropriately.

        And yes, in your place, I would never have had anything to do with this woman again either. I am very sorry for your loss. I hope she was able to share in your joy at your wedding.

        1. Graciosa*

          Sorry – poor use of antecedents. I think my writing suffers when I am appalled.

          I hope your mother was able to share in your joy at your wedding.

          I don’t think I could muster up more than a perfunctory platitude if Gift Giver spent most of it in the bathroom with food poisoning.

  18. Brett*

    #1 Seems especially bad for a recruiter to push this. Different organizations have different levels of background scrutiny. There can even be variability within organizations Our department has a fail rate over 30% (we had several defense employees fail our background check), even though our overall org is less than 1% outside our department. (Ironically, we are the ones that have been criticized for not having stringent enough background screening, go figure. Right now we are probably failing near 50% because of that.)

  19. Ann Furthermore*

    #5: Here’s my take on thank-you notes: they’re one of the few things in life that are guaranteed not to fail. People who expect them are ticked off when they don’t get them; people who don’t care one way or another are impressed when they do get them.

    That being said, I am hereby vowing that today I will make my daughter write thank you notes for the gifts she got at her birthday party in February. It’s been on my list of things to do. But I somehow got put in charge of the fundraising auction at her school, which was a few weeks after the party (and the prep for it a huge time suck), and then traveling on and off for work too. The time got away from me. :/

    OP, crank through the rest of them as soon as you can. Do a few each day and you’ll be done before you know it.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haaaaaated writing notes for my Bat Mitzvah, but I’m glad I did. It put the habit in my head. I was allowed to choose my note card design and the color of my pen. My homework was 10 notes every day, and I wrote them while I watched TV after school. Your efforts with your daughter won’t be wasted!

  20. AdAgencyChick*

    #2 — if you feel comfortable doing so, you can also ask people to email your boss directly if they’re really gushing about work you’ve done. When I get the line, “How can I ever thank you?” from a client, my response is always, “Send my boss an email!”

    1. OP2*

      That is a great idea and will indeed do that. Although these have been only a small paragraph or so just explaining their thanks, what things really helped them out etc so not really enough to send to my boss, but if I ever get one like the example above I will definitely say that! Thanks

  21. Oryx*

    #5 says she’s been writing them as time goes by. Three months out, if she’s written 1.7 thank you cards a day she’d be done by now. Considering most people probably would at least round it up to 2 cards per day and then probably write more on the weekend or days off from work, etc., I’m going to go ahead and say there’s no excuse at this point for not having all of those written and sent out. The fact that she had so many guests doesn’t get her off the hook for needing to have those thank you cards out in a prompt manner.

  22. Adam*

    #2. Yep, I do this. If the praise is substantial and goes into detail I think it’s perfectly fine to send. My manager likes seeing it and uses it in my annual evaluations. I once had an outside customer ask for my manager’s email so she could directly tell him how much she liked working with me. She actually asked him to give me a raise but not promote me because she didn’t want to work with anyone else.

      1. Adam*

        No more than anyone else got when raise time came around. To be fair, this place doesn’t have a lot of money to throw around, so you really have to live the mantra “a job done well is its own reward” here. It isn’t but it keeps you feeling good about yourself at least.

  23. Robin*

    Off topic–Is anyone else having trouble reading this site? It either won’t scroll for me and stalls, or it jumps around. It’s been that way (for me) for a few days.

    1. Brett*

      I have been hitting glitchy flash ads when viewing on a laptop. Much cleaner on an iPad, since no flash ads there.

    2. Ellie H.*

      Me too, also because of Flash ads. It’s OK on mobile. I actually started writing Alison an email about it but I couldn’t figure out a direct link to the troublesome ad in question (because it was frozen and wouldn’t load!) and then something else came up. I’ve been noticing it perhaps the last 3 weeks or so. I use Chrome.

      1. saf*

        huh, I was assuming it was yet another firefox problem. Flash crashes, freezes, and locks up the browser all the time here too.

  24. AggrAV8ed Tech*

    #2 made me shiver a little bit, only because whenever I receive praise like that in an email, I actually pray that they DIDN’T CC it to my boss. Any time I get glowing praise from someone, my boss finds some reason within it to reprimand me. Strange but true. I’ve actually had to tell trusted people who want to tell my boss about a helpful experience they’ve had with me, “Please don’t email (my boss), I get punished when I receive praise.”


    I helped out an administrator that I’ve known for the better part of a decade with some new technology on campus one day (completely within the guidelines of my job) and she sent a big, long praise-laden email to my boss. I was really proud, because she’s pretty high up in the university. The next day, I got chewed out in tones of “How dare you! You didn’t have my permission to help her!” and so on. Despite the fact that I was doing my job, exactly as it’s outlined in my job description, no less.

    1. Adam*

      Yep, your boss is an ass, but I’m pretty sure you knew that. I don’t get the weird provinciality people have over this stuff. You’re supposed to not be helpful…because she’ll take national secrets back to her homeland or something?

      My now ex-stepdad (thank GOD!) did this to me as a kid once. Our house was call screening central and we kids would get reprimanded if we answered the phone. One time my aunt started leaving an audible voice message on the answering machine while I was standing there, and then she started listing off the names of people that live there in the “I know you’re there. Pick-up. Pick-up.” type of message. She said my step-dad’s name first and I picked up the phone right away, but got the vicious “Is your name [step-dad’s name]?” comment. Err…she was my aunt well before she was your sister-in-law dude.

      Sometimes I wish you could just forward the therapy bills to the people we discuss during them. :P

    2. More Anonymous For This*

      I’m in kind of the same situation at my work and I can sympathize with you. It really sucks, doesn’t it?

    3. Anon-o-Moose*

      Sounds like my old nutjob manager-turned-director.

      No good deed ever went unpunished.

    4. OP2*

      Wow, I am really sorry to hear that. Luckily I have a really good understanding boss who I adore so I know she’ll take these at face value and know im helping and doing my job. As Adam said, your boss is a massive ass!

    5. DMented Kitty*

      He either was a jerk, a micromanager who is a stickler for “process”, or he felt like he deserved to be in on the praise. I’m now curious about how he’d react if the person sent the email straight to him (CC-ing you) thanking him for having such a valued employee like you.

      Anyhow, I hope that you’ll keep in mind that it’s him, not you. It’s things like these that slowly cause workplace PTSD.

      I had a horrible experience with my ex-Boss who made a big deal out of one word (literally — the word “overwhelmed”) and instead of talking to me privately, humiliated me over a speaker phone — in an open office plan where everyone can hear my mumbled attempts to explain myself where she kept interrupting. Oh, yeah — did I mention she did it the day after she told me my performance was above average and that I got a salary raise?

      Boss: “Hi – I just wanted to let you know that you were rated above peer and that you will get a bonus and a raise.”
      Me (heart swelling): “Thank you! Always glad to do a good job!”
      Boss: “I’ll have to talk to you about that later.” (she’s from a different time zone)
      Me (heart sinks, it didn’t sound good): “Umm…”
      >> (that night) Cue the horrid, horrid call over the speaker phone. <<

      Obviously I still dislike her and have not made any effort to reconnect (my other former coworkers are friends with her in Facebook). I still get wee prickly when my current manager calls in an emergency meeting or calls me for an ad hoc talk, but all the time it has been nothing horrible like I always assumed it would be. Whenever I recall that ex-Boss experience it now irritates the hell out of me.

      1. Anna*

        Sometimes I feel like a person might get far enough along in they’re career that it would be okay to burn a bridge and tell someone how horrible they were to work for. :) I actually STILL fantasize about finding the complete asshole who was my supervisor when I was 16 and telling him what an absolute POS he was and there’s something pretty sick about a person who gets off embarrassing a 16 year old to the point of tears.

  25. Some2*

    Re: OP #1: I work in government and once accepted an offer to join a city in their top job. They insisted I set a start date and pressured me to put it as quickly as possible. They announced I was the pick, I put in my 2 weeks and all was good- they claimed my contract would be approved the next week.

    Lo and behold the day before my moving truck came I get a call that they got cold feet on my contract and I was being passed over for someone else cheaper. Needless to say I unleashed a string of expletives at the person who called me the like of which has never before been uttered on this Earth or any other.

    Long story short, employers need to back the heck down and not insist on start dates before ALL of the T’s are crossed and I’s dotted.

    1. Marcy*

      Something similar happened to me, too. I was promised the job at a certain salary, gave my 2-weeks notice and then was called and told “Sorry, the salary is actually $5k less than I promised you. Do you still want the job? I need to know right now or I will call the next candidate and offer the job to them instead.” I took the job because I had already resigned the one I was in but it was certainly a huge red flag as the promise that the job did not require travel turned out to be a lie, too. Oh, and it was supposed to be a finance job but ended up being almost 95% marketing (a field I went back to school to get out of). I found that out after starting the job. I left after 18 months (but had actually started looking after only 6 months). I will never again give notice without a written offer.

      1. Retail Lifer*

        Had a similar thing happen to me. I discussed pay with the hiring manager, and she said what I was asking for “sounded about right.” She called to tell me that she wanted to hire me but couldn’t officially offer yet because the district manager hadn’t signed off on the paperwork yet. She said that was standard procedure and it might take another week for him to get the forms and send them back, but she wanted me to start right away so she encouraged me to put in my notice now.

        When I finally got the job offer, it was $2600 less per year that what we discussed. The district manager didn’t want to pay anyone that much. At the time, as an assistant retail manager, that was HUGE to me. I couldn’t turn it down because my two weeks were almost up, and I wound up leaving for a higher paying job less than three months later.

  26. Anon512*

    Not the OP, but this could be me.

    I accepted a job recently, and the recruiter wanted to set my hire date based on her calculation of availability “if I gave my notice tomorrow”. Her explanation was that the system calculates when to order background check and drug tests based on the entered start date and notifies the local team. So with my required 4 week notice period, the system would not have generated the start orders until two weeks before the start date.

    That is outside my comfort zone. She seemed genuinely surprised that I would not give notice to my current employer until the background check was complete. She agreed to put a start date of 2 weeks while sending an email to my hiring manager and local HR contact that the date would change to 4 weeks once the checks have been completed.

    While I am not concerned about my licenses, record, etc., that thought of what if always hangs there. You hear/see stories like above. And I am concerned over privacy breaches/hacks in which I have been notified my personal information was involved. While nothing has popped up yet, all it takes is for one hit at the wrong time.

    The background check online forms did not request references. It only wanted supervisors with their contact info at the workplace itself (not how to reach them now). Two are retired. One company is no longer in business, and our employment records are at the parent company. The third party vendor doesn’t allow for any deviations from their format. I put the main HR number down for each contact and the cell for the supervisor with the company no longer in business. Now I definitely feel better about my insistence on not giving notice until it is all back. And this is a large regional employer.

  27. Nanc*

    OP3, LinkedIn is both a blessing and a curse! It lets you discover info about potential employers and coworkers and it lets potential employees and future coworkers discover info about you. That said, Allison is right. Don’t ask to connect. I only accept LinkedIn connections from folks I’ve actually worked with and I think that’s true for lots of folks. One thing you can do is join LinkedIn groups for your mutual interest and make good contributions to that group. When you’re a finalist for the position (I’m just going to throw out all those positive vibe thingies–what the heck) and he reviews your LinkedIn profile, it’s one of those minor things that may tip the scales in your favor. Like it or not, often in the hiring process we see to click with folks who are like us. Which explains my office full of introverts who like to hike, volunteer and discuss last week’s episode of Grimm at the end of our Monday morning meeting.

    True story about LinkedIn in accidental invites with happy endings: One time I was trying to click skip on the “People you may know” page and clicked invite instead. He accepted and lo and behold, 3 months later his company hired my company! He’s the second-in-command for the biggest division of a sister company to one of our long-time clients. And it turns out his nephew was one of my students when I taught at university a decade or so ago. Small world!

  28. Economist*

    OP #1–I wouldn’t give a start date before a background/security check is done because those things can drag out a long time. I’m not worried about getting cleared, I’m just worried that the process can take longer than they think–for example, if there is a backlog of clearances.

  29. Merry and Bright*

    Just to add a bit more on the thank yous, I think whether it is in writing, by text or email, or in person depends on the context. But if someone buys you a gift, helps you or just does something kind, it’s just nice to say thank you. But I don’t keep a tally of other people.

  30. thisisit*

    i don’t want to get involved in the big mess above about writing thank you cards, except to confess that i still haven’t gotten all of mine out and i got married in november. I’M A TERRIBLE PERSON. i got all of the ones for the first wedding (we had two weddings) out within 2 weeks, but have had some issues with the second part because of the number and some other issues in my life (and also just getting the cards made). now i feel motivated to put some time into it tomorrow and get the rest out. fwiw, half of them have gone, and half left are actually our closer relatives and friends.
    we didn’t have a shower, thankfully, so just wedding gifts. and i’ve been trying to make them more personal to assuage my guilt over the lateness.

    anyway, this is just a general psa to say – send your thank cards! even if they are horribly late, they should be still be sent.

    1. Stuck in the Snow*

      I have a large family – and one of my cousins is ditzy. Sweet, but always late, always forgetting things, getting distracted by the puppy on the sidewalk that might be lost or the old man who might need help with his mail, etc. etc. She married an equally ditzy fellow, and they sent thank-you’s for their wedding after 2 years. They’d gotten a box of stationary just for that, and then they lost it. Didn’t find it again until they moved, at which point they sat down and wrote thank you’s to everyone they thought was at their wedding, including the story of why they were so late. I’m sure they missed some people who were there and included some people who weren’t – but it was really amusing, and still well-meant, and fit their profile perfectly. So better late than never!

  31. nony*

    Re: 5. A shower guest asked where her thank-you is

    If your guests have time to spend a whole day at your wedding shower, and it only takes a few minutes to write and stamp one, you are at fault here. Good for the guest to bring it up.

  32. Dulcibella*

    I do not buy gifts just to be thanked for most occasions. I love buying thoughtful gifts for friends and family with no expectation of any expression of gratitude. But the big greedy gift grab that many weddings have become – I do feel like I am being ordered to produce a particular gift and I do get miffed when I am not thanked.

  33. Washington*

    #1 The last plaqce I worked at was in Washington state and did drug testing for new hires. We had someone all cleared and set to start except for their drug testing. I’m not sure if they left a job or not to set a start day with us but it’s certainly possible.

    Anyway, this was shortly after the legalization of marijuana in Washington…. and the candidate failed the drug test for marijuana. Their offer was immediately rescinded. I always felt a little bit bad for that candidate even though the job was federally funded and it seems obvious that the organization would test for marijuana use.

  34. bkanon*

    #4: I have many years of retail experience, in semi-management and some event handling. Please, please do NOT ask for an interview at the event. The manager is going to be very stressed. There are always checklists to go through, employees to herd, stock that has gone missing, errors in paperwork, etc etc. An event at a store with the reputation/status Sephora has will only be adding the extra worry of making the company look bad.

    Retail managers typically block out a few hours to do a series of interviews at once. They can prep applications, have extra paperwork available, and generally get everything set up at one time when they don’t have to hold a staff meeting, wrangle with deliveries, cordon off a spill, or other pressing matters.

    Take a copy of your resume, be ready for a chat if they say they have a few minutes, but don’t ask for an interview at an event. It will likely come off as someone who doesn’t understand the pressure of a retail environment on a regular day, much less an especially busy day. (I was in book retail. If someone had asked for an interview during a Harry Potter midnight release, they would never get hired.) Your best bet is to look the part, be knowledgeable about products if you’re asked, and be friendly and confident when talking to employees and supervisors alike. You’ll give the impression of someone who’d be a credit to the staff, which is a far sight better than coming off as someone who wants to monopolize a manager on a very busy day.

    1. Jader*

      Totally agree, I was a cosmetic manager and the day of my galas I was such an anxious wreck internally. I had a mental checklist a mile long, stress of expected sales increases, employees to brief and the distinct possibility my DM would show up at any moment. If someone showed up with a resume requesting an interview I would have entirely blown them off. I don’t think I would have entirely written them off forever, but I’d question their knowledge of industry norms and interview them very carefully.
      I would definitely go to the event, look awesome and introduce myself to the manager. It will look good that you know of the event (you look interested in company business). If she has time definitely mention you applied and you look forward to speaking with her in the future. Otherwise I would go to the event, try to be seen and follow up at a future date with the manager.
      Good luck, I have never worked for Sephora but I bet it’ll be a blast.

  35. C Average*

    This thread has been super interesting.

    First off, I have learned that thank-you notes are not A Thing in all cultures and all households! My mother always kept a tally of the gifts we received and forcibly sat us down to write thank-you notes to the senders. And we did sometimes hear her complain that so-and-so hadn’t written a thank-you note and wouldn’t be getting any future gifts. My sister and I complained bitterly about it all: the cards were formulaic, nobody really cared if they got a dumb card from us, wasn’t the idea of a gift to GIVE A GIFT, not get a card for giving a gift?, etc. Mom held firm, and the habit was formed for both of us. I now see a lot of value in it and like the custom, though I don’t tend to notice who else doesn’t send thank-you notes.

    I’ve never really been on the other side of a big event where a lot of gifts were given, so I’m having to speculate about that. My own wedding was extremely small. I think I got about a half-dozen gifts from well-wishers and wrote and sent those notes pretty much the same day I got the gifts. And my very close friends haven’t gotten married. I’ve gotten wedding invites from people I don’t know well, but I decline them because I don’t care to go to the weddings of people I don’t know well. I think if I did attend the wedding of someone I don’t know well and gave them a gift, I might actually notice not getting a thank-you note simply because I didn’t already have a strong impression of them, and my impression of them would now become “doesn’t bother sending thank-you notes.” It wouldn’t be a life-long black mark or anything, but it’d be a negative data point for sure.

    On the other hand, I don’t think I’d notice at all if it were someone I knew well and of whom I already had lots of positive memories and impressions.

    tl;dr = If you get a gift from a relative stranger or someone you rarely see, you should probably err on the side of sending a thank-you note, regardless of your personal philosophy on the practice, if you want that person to have a good general impression of you. That note (or lack of note) could easily become the only impression she’ll ever form of you. (And maybe that doesn’t really matter to you. Which is also fine. It’s just something to be aware of.)

  36. Retail Lifer*

    #1: TWICE I’ve had background checks take more than two weeks, in which case I would have been screwed if I had put in my notice before they cleared. They usually come back in a few days, depending on what they’re actually checking, but they get held up sometimes (especially if the reference check is part of the background check) and it’s not worth the risk unless you can afford to potentially be out of work for a week.

  37. Jamie*

    I had to contact a bride about this once, but my concern was that my card and note might have gotten separated. I left the gift at the reception, and I forgot to tape the card to the box before I arrived, and there was no bow to tuck it into. There was a mountain of gifts in a jumbled pile, and my card was just surfing unsecured on top of the present.

    After three months went by with no thank-you card, I sent a polite note to the bride mentioning my concern. I totally didn’t care about receiving a card–I was just chagrined thinking that *she* thought I didn’t get her a gift.

    Thank-you notes say thank you, but they also let the gift giver know that their gift actually arrived safely. Maybe the guest who contacted the OP was thinking about that.

  38. Erin*

    I’m late to the party, but #5: Although you’re late, I think their rudeness in asking trumps that.

    If this was a wedding gift that was shipped to you (as they often are today) then it would be a different story. People like to be sure that the gift was indeed delivered. In this case, you could do a quick e-mail to let them know it’s received and that a formal thank you is on the way. Assuming you haven’t gotten married yet, something to keep in mind. =0)

    In this case though, I assume you received the gift in person so they *know* you got it.

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