1. Joe Hass

    We had an interesting situation come up with the upcoming birth of our first child.

    Some of our friends and families sent us gifts ordered online. Unfortunately, my wife and I have been so busy that we haven’t been as on top of our proper thank you notes as we’d like. One of my friends who ordered a gift called to ask if we’d received their gift, since they hadn’t heard from us. We informed her that we had. She said that she was under the impression that a recipient should contact a sender immediately upon receipt of a shipped gift, even if a proper thank you note is coming later. In my mind, I thought that this was something that could easily be tracked to verify it was received.

    Should a gift recipient alert a sender that a gift was received separate from a proper thank you note?

    • Elizabeth

      You are correct that a gift sent online can almost always be ‘tracked’. The issue for your friend, I would guess, is not so much whether you received it but that they are expecting a thank-you for it. I agree that friends should be understanding of new parents, but personally I would rather receive an email thank-you note that is timely rather than a written note months later. When you ‘informed’ your friend that you had received their gift, that was the time to be effusive in your thanks. “Yes, we did receive it! So sorry we are behind on our thank you notes, the little one is keeping us up all hours and the lack of sleep is truly rough. Thank you so much for the onesie, Baby Bella loves it!” I’m sure the chastisement you received had something to do with a feeling that gratitude was not as forthcoming as it might/should have been. The expression of thanks is more important (in my opinion) than the medium by which it is conveyed.

      • Joe Hass

        When we talked about it, she wasn’t by any means upset about not being thanked: she just wanted to make sure we got it. The old-schooler in me felt that a proper thank you for a non-presented gift is required, and I wouldn’t want someone to feel that me acknowledging receipt was the extent of the thank you. This just transferred over to the larger question of “proper thank you notes,” and a couple friends ready to break out Emily Post with an esoteric scenario.

        Interestingly, just after I posted this, I got an Facebook message from someone thanking me for the gift I ordered for her thanking me for the gift. I’m now curious if she follows up with a written thank you note.

    • I don’t think an alert is necessary because that proper thank you note should be coming right away! I know being a new parent is a frenzied, sleep-deprived time, but being tired is simply not an excuse for rudeness.

      On the other hand, it is never ok to chastise people who are not your children. So it sounds like you and your wife were impolite, your friend was impolite in return, and it’s time to learn your lessons and move on. I think Elizabeth’s response to a “did you receive my gift?” inquiry is good, except I would leave out the being tired excuses. Apologizing for the late notes is quite sufficient, and next time, send those thank yous promptly!

  2. Anne

    This is a cross-over family and business etiquette question. I have a family member who has recently gotten into direct sales for a beauty product. She is posting about the product on her personal Facebook page and beginning to host events; she has also recently begun a health coaching service, and runs an organic food delivery service. I know how to politely decline attending the events, and know I can ignore her Facebook posts. Her product is plant-based and thus considered “natural”; she is using it herself and likes the results. My concern is this: the active ingredients only verified and tested use over the past 20 years has been as a cell-killing drug used in cancer, and its long-term safety as a skin cream has not been verified. It seems incongruous to me that she would be selling a product that is not fully tested and known to be safe when these are her very concerns around GMO foods, against which she is a very vocal advocate.

    One of my concerns is that she will undermine her own businesses by being involved with a product that may not be safe. Another of my concerns is simply that I am tired of being a sales target for her businesses.

    I am wondering if there is any polite way to share with her the information I know about her product, or if I should simply drop the topic and ignore her various sales pitches.

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