Not to toot my own horn, but I think I have pretty good manners. I shudder to think of a time when email and Facebook correspondence takes the place of a hand-written note. I guess for some people this has already happened. Personally, I LOVE stationary and am constantly coming up with excuses to use it. If you're reading this and think you should improve your manners, here are some tips. If you're reading this and share my complaints, please feel free to comment below!
- If someone performs an act of service for you or gives you a gift, you should WRITE them a thank-you note. It does not have to be on fancy monogrammed stationary (although that is nice). Just drop them a few lines to say that you appreciate what they did for you or gave you. Sending a Facebook message or email is NOT the same thing! My son, who is not quite three, does this already. We send thank you notes to the grandparents and even to his friends who cannot yet read, after his birthday party every year.
- If you have dinner at someone's home, it is nice to send them a thank you note expressing gratitude for their hospitality (especially if you didn't have to cook) and alluding to future gatherings. Even nicer, keep some stationary in the car and leave the note in their mailbox as you leave. They'll get it the next day when they check their mail and will be even more impressed with your thoughtfulness and good manners!
- Wedding gifts should actually be sent BEFORE the wedding. It is a major pain for the parents of the bride and groom to load all those gifts into their vehicles after a long day, and it's also an inconvenience for the bride and groom to have to make special trips home to pick up gifts. If you're a stickler for receiving thank you notes, then you should definitely send you gift beforehand to ensure that your name card does not get misplaced when gifts are haphazardly loaded.
- Wedding guests and guests of guests: Wedding invitations typically have inner envelopes and outer envelopes. The outer envelope is the one bearing the proper name and address of the invitee (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). The inner envelope lists the exact names of those invited by the bride and groom (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Caroline and John Jr.) It is very rude to bring guests to a wedding whose names are not listed on the invitation. It is even more rude to call the bride, groom, or their parents and ask why your children were not invited. They should not have to explain to you that it is an adult wedding/reception. Use your MANNERS and some common sense.
- RSVP-- The term RSVP is an abbreviation for a French phrase that translates to "Please respond." This generally means that the host or hostess would like for you to call (or write) and tell them that you can come to their party. If you do not respond, they may think you are not able to come and will therefore not have enough food, beverages, etc. for you. Think of this as "reserving your spot" on the guest list.
- REGRETS-- Some invitations will say "Regrets only" and list a name and number to call. If this is the case, you should call the host and let them know if you are UNABLE to attend the party. This is very polite and will prevent the host from spending excess money on food and beverages for guests who are not attending. Put yourself in the host's shoes... would you want to buy food for 50 guests when only 30 show up?
- A note on RSVPs and REGRETs-- it is exceptionally rude to RSVP to an event and then not show up. There are always extenuating circumstances, such as death or illness, but those are the only acceptable reasons. If you REGRET to a party, don't surprise the host by showing up, lest you be surprised by not having a seat at the dinner table!
As with all rules, there are exceptions. I would not send a thank note to my oldest and dearest friend after having a family cook-out at her house. However, I would probably call her the next day and reiterate what a great time we had and make plans to get together again soon. Again, it's just POLITE!