Baby Shower Thank-You Notes: Better Late Than Never?
What’s the statute of limitations on uber-procrastinated thank-yous?
I’ve been reading your page for while and never saw something that might answer my question. My baby is 6 months old this week and I still haven’t sent out thank you cards for her baby shower gifts. In my defense, we had a rough delivery and recovery included surgery as well as postpartum depression. How late is too late and what do I say in those cards: “hey, she really enjoyed your gift of a blanket/rattle/book that you gave her more than 6 months ago, but because of some health issues these thank-yous have been delayed- thanks!”
Is is too late and can I even say anything to make it worth sending out those cards?
Thanks for helping out!
I believe the “usual” or “traditional” upper-time-limit on new-baby thank-you cards (HOLY HYPHENS BATMAN) is six months. However, most people aren’t exactly marking the days off on their calendars, and understand that hey, stuff happens. If they were kind enough to give you a gift, they are likely kind enough to give you a wide swath of leeway on getting cards out late, or even at all. Particularly if they know any specifics on what the past six months have been like for you.
Most people just want to know that their baby gift came in handy — so when sending belated cards, you actually have the advantage of being able to give specifics: “Thank you so much for the blanket — we use it whenever we take walks in the stroller now that the weather is cooler!” Or, “The baby LOVES the rattle you sent — now that she’s really playing with toys it’s one of her favorites!” Or, “We think of you every time we read Goodnight, Moon at bedtime. It’s become a regular part of our nightly routine. Thank you so much.”
Including an apology for the lateness and an oblique reference to your health problems (like the one you gave in your letter) is your call. You don’t want to sound like you’re making excuses, but you also might not want to completely ignore the six-month-old elephant in the room. I think your example would be appropriate if you think the individual in question doesn’t know the specifics of your delivery and stuff, but like I said, most people are willing to give new moms a break. A well-written, personalized-to-the-specific-gift thank-you note (OY WITH THE HYPHENS ALREADY), perhaps with a baby photo or two inside, would probably satisfy a lot of gift-givers. I’ve sent out very belated notes myself, and usually just…know whether the person is the type who would be happy with simply hearing how we used/are using the gift…or is someone I should probably apologize to, either because they’re just old-school about thank-you notes or just a bit…you know. LIKE THAT.
You can also simply acknowledge the timeframe without any personal details: “Just wanted to send a hugely overdue thank you for the set of baby shampoos and lotions! Even though she’s officially lost that ‘new baby’ smell, I just love bathing and lotioning her up in your wonderful gift.”
There ARE probably people who are wondering where their thank-you card is. There are also probably people who weren’t expecting one or understand why the notes got lost in the post-surgery/PPD/adjustment period shuffle. The important thing, though, is to just power through and send the dang notes already, without a lot of hand-wringing and guilt over the technical lateness. Better late than never is incredibly true here, so don’t feel the need to make a HUUUUGE production out of the notes if that will keep you from just sitting down this weekend and writing a few sentences on each. Including a photo would be a really, really nice touch, but again, if that’s going to entail a delay and more procrastinating, skip it and consider including a URL to a Flickr account or Facebook album where the gift-giver can see pictures themselves.
Just do it! You’ll feel better not having this task and the mild guilt/embarrassment of it hanging over your head. (And by the way, there’s NOTHING in the etiquette rules that precludes your significant other from pitching in and writing a few of the notes too.)
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