NOTE: This article originally appeared on my Facebook Group page: “Revive the Art of Personal Note Writing!”
I hear from newlyweds that the list of thank-you notes they need to write is almost paralyzing, especially when they can type faster than they can write. It really does feel overwhelming! Take a deep breath and read on.
You may think I'm fibbing since I'm such a proponent of note writing, but I have to play tricks with myself even to get my Christmas thank you notes written every year (we have a big family). My main motivation, however, is that I get such pleasure out of RECEIVING thank you notes that I know I want to get them written. The truth is, there's no way through it but THROUGH it, but here are two suggested plans. Choose one and stick with it:
Plan A: Just like a college reading assignment with a deadline (the ones where you know how many pages you have to read by a certain date and you work backwards to figure out how many pages you have to read per week to get it done), choose a deadline by which you want to have your thank you notes written and figure out how many you have to write per week and put it on your calendar in whatever increments work for you ( one session per week, three shorter sessions, etc). If you miss the mark one week, you know you've got to double up the next week.
Plan B: Figure out what a manageable number of notes per week for you would be and commit to that, regardless of when the finish date might be. But then stick to that, within a week or two. In other words, if you miss the mark one week, don't go more than another week without catching up.
In either one, be realistic with yourself so you don't feel overwhelmed, and write the most important ones first. My son and daughter-in-law split up the duty, depending on who knew the gift-giver best.
If you're on the go a lot, and find yourself with odd moments of waiting (waiting for kids, waiting for appointments, etc.), you really might find it helpful to put your list and your notecards, pen, stamps, etc. in a little tote bag and take it with you everywhere you go so when you find a minute or two of waiting time, you can whip one or two notes off. Just make sure it's not your ONLY copy of your list in case you misplace your tote bag!
If you have a mobility or visual impairment, obviously people will cut you some slack. It's so easy now to record messages and email the audio (or even video) file or put them on a CD and mail them.
Phone calls and emails and note-writing services to thank your gift givers (such as Send Out Cards or Thankster.com) are certainly better than nothing, but try to make this an absolute last resort to avoid being considered ungrateful.
Whenever that devil on your shoulder starts saying, “Oh, they don't really expect me to write a thank-you note” or “It's just too much trouble when I have so many,” remember:
- Whoever gave you the gift considered you enough to take the time to shop and spend their hard-earned money on something they thought you'd like. You need to write them a note. And late IS better than never…even months late.
- If the gift giver ordered something from your registry or from an online store, they may be anxious about whether you even received the gift.
- The time and energy you use to write a note is a gift itself. In this day a time, getting a handwritten note is like getting a hug by mail. Go on…make their day!
- And yes, with few exceptions, they DO expect you to write them a thank you note.
Hope this helps!