The Thank You Card Dilemma

I have a confession to make:

I am terrible, awful, no good, so bad, worst ever at sending thank you cards.

I buy them.  I intend to send them.  I want to send them.  I like the idea of sending them.  I like picking them out.  They are always so stinking cute.  With their itty bitty cute little matching envelopes.

But it’s just not that simple.

Of course it isn’t.

Because I can take something as innocuous as thank you cards and make them complicated.

Welcome to my brain.  You are welcome.

Here’s the deal: I didn’t grow up writing thank you cards after birthdays and holidays.  I’m not blaming anyone else for my ridiculousness at a standard life skill, just saying that it isn’t something I’m used to doing.

So, I start out with the best intentions.

I sit down, pen ready to begin my declarations of thanksgiving…and THEN…

I want to write out a heartfelt, meaningful discourse to each and every person who was gracious enough to buy/do something for me.

Because I am thankful.  Truly.  100%.  Times a bajillion.

But those thank you cards are awfully small.  There isn’t enough room to express my gratitude.  I run out of space.  Quickly.  Because I’m a wordy gal.


Besides, after a baby shower, when I’ve been lavished with a couple dozen gifts, my hand is liable to fall off if I write soliloquies of thanks for each and every person.

So they start getting generic.  And it pains me.  Deeply.  Because it makes me feel like I’m NOT thankful.  Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

And then I get annoyed at the whole thing.  And I stop mid way.  I’ll get back to it and finish them tomorrow.

And I genuinely mean to sit down and finish writing them out.

Really I do.


And I keep going back to the issue of wanting to write a whole bunch and not having time to do that multiplied by the 22 notes I’m supposed to write.  And I don’t want to mail out only some of them…I feel like my thank you notes are all brothers and can’t be separated until the appointed time when the USPS sends each to their prescribed destination.

Like little sea turtles that hatch at the same time and rush to the ocean together.  Dodging birds and crabs and absent minded postal carriers.

So I end up with this stack of completed thank you notes.

And a stack of blank ones.

And time keeps ticking by.

And I keep SWEARING I’m going to finish them.  Tomorrow.

And then I realize it’s been almost FOUR MONTHS since said baby shower and now I’m just completely embarrassed.  Sending out even the completed cards seems ridiculous at this point.  Four months later and all.

So now I just basically avoid eye contact with any of the sweet souls who bought me a gift, because I’m sure they think I’m a complete ingrate who doesn’t care about their present.

Which…again…couldn’t possibly be further from the truth if I tried.

Because I am so beyond thankful that I can’t seem to express it in a teeny tiny itty bitty thank you card.


Please know that if you have ever, or ever plan to give me something or do some nice act for me…I really am genuinely grateful for it.

I just suck.

For reals.


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I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.

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  1. 1

    You are welcome. Now get over it. Thank you notes are SO hard to write. I am terrible at them also. At least you have a REALLY good reason…times 4. Hugs!

  2. 3

    Don’t beat yourself up about sending thank you cards “late”. It’s better to send them a year later than not at all. They don’t have to be excessively verbose either, most people are shocked to receive a handwritten note – you can feel free to {try} to keep it short!
    Emily´s last blog post ..5 Things I Hate About Moving

  3. 4

    I think you stole all those words right out of my own mouth….I suck at it too. Probably more then you even! LOL
    I think most people who know you well enough don’t expect one and know that you are thankful and just too darn BUSY! Don’t beat yourself up about it :)

  4. 5

    If it helps, I see mine in that photo. I now consider myself thanked. In fact, I like this idea. I want to take a picture of a thank you card, put it on Facebook, and tag all the people who should be receiving one. DONE. (By the way, I just cleaned out a desk drawer and found all of the FINISHED thank you notes from Tyler’s birthday party… back in 2009.)

  5. 6

    Just thought I would share, that I try, but suck at them too. I have a super traditional Aunt, who basically ends up calling me (usually the day I sent the card two months-ish later) to see if I received anything from her.
    I also agree with sending them all at once, cause, what if you forgot one?

  6. 7

    Oh my word, yes, yes, yes. Me exactly. And my baby shower is Saturday. Too bad I can’t get started on them now. I remember my first baby shower I wrote everyone a novel and even drew cute little colored pencil doodles on each and every envelope. I set the standard too high way back then and now I can’t measure up so yes, I too have the half finished piles and avoid the eye contact thing.
    April@M3RH´s last blog post ..Random Monday

  7. 8

    I felt this way as a new mom, but I’ve got an easy solution for you. Just send a photo card. You can get them printed anywhere. Even at 4 months late, the generous guests from your shower will forget it was four months ago when they see that precious little face. I know it’s not as personal, but I’ve been sending photo cards for all events and holidays since my oldest was born. Peeps dig them :0)
    Ps: you are a super hero in my book. Just sayin
    Absolute Mommy´s last blog post ..You wouldn’t believe me…

  8. 9

    That reminds me, I have to send a thank you note! Doing it right now!

  9. 10
    Kayla Danelle says:

    OMG. I so could have written this. Exact same. Didn’t growing up doing them, but my MIL has extreme pressures on me and CHECKS UP ON ME to make sure I wrote her relatives thank you notes within a week or two of an event. Kill me. I AM SO thankful, but I am so so terrible at expressing it in the tiny space, without sounding redundant and like I was forced at gunpoint to sit down and write. *sigh*

  10. 11

    Oh wow, this is so like the way I am too, describes it so well. I let myself ‘off the hook’ for Christmas cards for that very reason- the partially untouched stack of cards just sitting there making me feel guilty!
    Emily@crunchyhousehold´s last blog post ..My Composting Adventure ~ Total Disclosure

  11. 12

    At least you know what you want to write. I feel a simple thank you is lame, but it is hard to know exactly how to express your feelings sometimes. I did not grow up writing them either and have no practice whatsoever.

  12. 13

    I do lame thank you notes, but don’t stress so much. When you have time, send them. I send them in waves. Whatever I finish first, I send. Sometimes they get sent out at once, and sometimes they don’t. Life gets in the way sometimes and people who know you, know that.

    Having said, that, I’m the only one in my family who sends thank you cards. Odd man out, indeed.


  13. 14

    HELLO! YOU ARE ME!!! I SUCK SO BAD at thank you notes! I am going to link to this post after every event and say this is ME! One time I did thank you you tubes from my son. In our set we don’t open the presents at the party. (Is this normal?) It happened at the first 1st birthday party within our group and then everyone has followed suite. before then I had never been to a party where they were not opened? (I suppose that it makes it that much worse when i don’t send them now too) Anyway for my son’s 3rd birthday I recorded him opening each of the gifts, we had him say thank you to the person afterwards and posted them to youtube, and emailed links. It the only thank you “note” I have ever accomplished getting out. Last year we had a photographer at his party, I took pictures afterwards of the gifts and was going to mail a thank you photo card of him opening the gift, a and a picture of the attendee with my son, and a professional picture from the party. The photographer took like FOREVER to get us the pictures back. By then, well it was too late? Or was it? Perhaps we should send the thank you notes from last year with this years invites… as I said, this IS ME! And that is why I LUV you!

  14. 15

    Hehe… I think I see my name in the pic… I’ll assume this is my thank you note:-) You are of course welcome… we love you!

  15. 16

    Oh yay! I’m not the only one!!! I always do about 80% and not even the most important ones first. I usually find a stack of cards 7 months after it’s way too late to send them which might bring my total down to 50%. It’s the same with Christmas cards. I actually found 5 yesterday. Looking at the pictures inside is like going down memory lane.
    Jacquelyn Moses´s last blog post ..How to read Awkward poetry

  16. 17

    I think the big thing that everyone runs into with the thank you note struggle is confusion over types of correspondence. I totally get wanting to make a thank you note personal and heartfelt and newsy but that’s not a “note” and really not a thank you note. They make them small for a reason. What you are trying to write is a letter smushed into a note. To get them out in a timely manner go with the 3 sentence rule. It sounds formy but it gets the job done and you’re the only one that knows that they are all sort of the same and you can mix it up a little but keep to about 3 sentences. That will fill up the card! a- Thank you so much for the _____ b (here is where it gets creative) I think of you every time I use the blanket to swaddle little Mikey up/It added such a homey touch to the living room/We were able to buy X that we had been wanting so much (if it’s money) c- personal line- It was lovely seeing you Wednesday at the shower/ I hope your mother is feeling better soon/ Let’s have coffee next week! To make it all a little better, pick up some cute blank cards when you get your thank you’s. Tuck them in your purse and when you are waiting at a drive thru/for school pick-up/ at ballet make an effort to write, address (you have your contacts on your phone) and pop a stamp on one. THen you won’t be trying to write letters in your thank you notes! :-)

  17. 18

    It’s so funny that you should write about this now. I just got a facebook post from my SIL asking if my kids got their bday gifts. After she had also asked my husband, her brother, if they got their gifts and he said they had. I got the message: she wanted a thank you. There’s a little history with said SIL, she told me I was a bad mom once because I do not keep my house clean enough. Anyways, I suck at writing thank yous. I suck at making my kids write thank yous. I realize, my mom also sucked at making her kids write thanks yous. I wanted to stop the cycle. I wanted to make my kids write thank yous. Actually, I do have them make their own thank you cards. But then I don’t mail them. That’s how much I suck. I suck and I need to be better at letting people know that I am thankful for their thoughtfulness.

    But when someone makes a point of pretty much asking for a thank you? I don’t know, but when I give a gift to someone, I really don’t care if I get a thank you note. When I feel like I have to write a thank you or the person will be upset, it takes something away from the whole process. Not that I am good at the process anyways. Or cleaning my house well enough.

    Now I gotta go mail my kids’ thank yous.
    Anne´s last blog post ..God Loves Me Like a Dog (Exhibit A: Reggie)

  18. 19

    Hey, a little late to this conversation (like a year late) but thought you guys might want to check out our new site, We make the hellish chore of writing thank you cards a heavenly pleasure.