Gift Gratitude

By Kristen Castillo

October 17, 2014 4 min read

The holiday season can be a frenzy of Christmas parties, cards, well wishes and gifts. While it's a busy time, you still need to show your gratitude to others for their kindness and holiday cheer. But is a verbal thank-you enough? Do you need to send a handwritten note? Can you give the gift giver a shoutout on social media? Or do you need to say thank you in some other way?

"A thank-you note is a 'hot topic' as the holidays soon approach," says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and the owner of The Protocol School of Texas.

Whether you receive a trinket or a large gift, showing your gratitude is essential.

*Pen & Paper

Blogger Linda B. Condrillo of values handwritten thank-you cards. "I send thank-you notes all the time, even for random acts of kindness," she says, noting she makes her own notes out of original photos.

Event coordinator Brandy Blackford, who has handled over 250 events, advises all of her clients to send gift givers handwritten cards.

"The reason I specify a handwritten card is your guests did not send a virtual gift," she says. "More than likely they did not attend your event via social media. They brought a tangible item that took them time and thought to make personal for you."

A thank-you note can make a big impression, says manners and social skills expert Suzanne Wind, author of "SMART Playbook: Game-Changing Life Skills for a Modern World."

"The purpose of a thank-you note is to let a person know how much his or her generosity and kindness are appreciated," she says. "It doesn't have to be long -- a brief thoughtful note is all that you need."

If you open the gift and the gift giver is there, it's acceptable to say thanks in person and not follow-up with a written note. Still Wind says you could still send a note anyway.

A handwritten note is required, "if you receive a present by mail or open presents later, it is important to write a thank-you note," says Wind.


While handwritten notes are the standard, sometimes, emailed gestures of gratitude are OK.

"In today's modern world, it's acceptable to write a nice email," says Wind, who recommends elaborating on your thanks with more than one or two typed lines. "Give a little more thought and maybe attach a picture of you enjoying your gift," she says.

Still Gottsman says while email is a nice gesture, it "lacks the 'holiday spirit' of a pretty note put in the mail."

*Social Media

Is a quick post and maybe a photo or video on Facebook, Twitter, Vine or Instagram a sufficient thank-you?

"Thanking someone on social media is a great idea to highlight someone's expertise or give public kudos, but should be followed up with a written note," says Gottsman.

*Be Prompt

However you choose to say thanks, make sure you do it in a timely manner.

"The worst thing is to put it off for later and then forget to do it altogether," says Kathy Cheng, founder of the Thankful Registry, an online gift registry service.

While there's a grace period for writing thank-you cards for formal occasions like weddings, the general rule the rest of the time, including Christmas is to express your gratitude as soon as possible.

"For birthday gifts and holiday gifts, my policy is that it's never a good idea to leave the gift giver hanging," says Cheng.

*Creative Thanks

Get creative with your Christmas thanks. Here's how: Make a digital thank-you card, complete with a video showing your excitement opening the gift and sharing how grateful you are. Even a simple emailed photo of you wearing or using the new gift and holding up a thank-you sign will be memorable for the gift giver and shows you took the time to say thank you.

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