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5 Times You're Forgetting to Send a Thank You Card, Etiquette Experts Say

You can't change your behavior if you don't know it's rude.

Sending thank you notes is one of the pillars of good etiquette—it's right up there with saying "please" and "excuse me" and holding the door open for people behind you. But in this day and age, handwritten notes are often skipped in favor of texts, and thoughtful thank yous can seem like a thing of the past.

However, etiquette experts say that shouldn't be so. There are still many occasions in which you should send a thank you note in the mail—or hand-deliver it—to express your gratitude. Here, the pros break down the key times thank yous are warranted but often forgotten. Now that you know, it's time to stock up on chic stationery and get to writing.

READ THIS NEXT: 5 Things You Should Never Put in a Sympathy Card, Etiquette Experts Say.

When someone's helped you professionally.

group of people networking

Job interviews aren't the only times you should send a thank you note in corporate America. You should break out your stationary any time someone makes an extra effort on your behalf.

"Referring a client, suggesting a marketing strategy, mentoring advice, forwarding information of interest, or even constructive criticism are all examples where a thank you note is appropriate," says Jodi RR Smith, president and owner of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

Send your note as soon as possible after the favor and include a thoughtful detail that explains how the person's help is aiding you.

When someone sends a condolence gift.


You might think you don't have to send a thank you note after receiving a condolence gift—you are grieving, after all—but etiquette experts say it's good form to write one anyway.

"It's important to respond to everyone who's sent a note, flowers, or donations, though it's perfectly acceptable to have a close friend or relative write the notes on the recipient's behalf," says Bonnie Tsai, founder and director of Beyond Etiquette.

These notes can be short and sweet; simply thanking the person for their thoughts or contribution during a difficult time will suffice.

READ THIS NEXT: 6 Times You Should Never Hug Someone, Etiquette Experts Say.

When someone hosts an event in your honor.

Young woman laughing at the head of a table while hosting a dinner party for a group of diverse young friends at her home

If someone throws you a birthday party or holds a fundraising event where you're the guest of honor, you should always send a thank you note, says Tsai.

These events take a lot of time to pull off—even if they're a simple surprise party BBQ or restaurant gathering—and the host deserves to have their efforts recognized. Include details about how much fun you had and the special touches that meant the most to you.

When someone hosts you for dinner.

friends sharing some wine, fruit, and cheese at a dinner party
Shutterstock/Yulia Grigoryeva

Dinner parties warrant a thank you. "Hosting a dinner party takes a lot of planning, preparation, and effort," says Tsai. "It's always a nice reminder for the host how much you enjoyed the dinner party and appreciate them for the effort they put in to make it happen."

To elevate your correspondence even more, write your note on cute stationery that matches the party's aesthetic.

Lisa Mirza Grotts, a San Francisco-based etiquette expert, notes the one time you don't need to send a thank you note after dinner is if you regularly host the other person at your own home. In those instances, a verbal thank you is sufficient.

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When someone sends you a gift or card.


Gifts should always be followed by a thank you note—although many people forget to send them.

"It's important to express your appreciation to the gift giver who sent you a present for a special occasion," says Tsai. "They took time to find a gift that they believe you'll enjoy, and therefore, it's important to let them know how much you appreciate their effort and present."

The same advice holds true for congratulatory cards. When someone sends you thoughtful well wishes, reply with a handwritten thank you note to express your gratitude.

Juliana LaBianca
Juliana is an experienced features editor and writer. Read more
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