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Super-Duper Belated Baby Shower Thank-You Notes

Super-Duper Belated Baby Shower Thank-You Notes

By Amalah

Dear Amy,

About two years ago, a handful of really great people threw me not one, not two, but three baby showers for my first daughter! (Yes, I’m surrounded by amazing people!)

Of course, after those showers, I was all about resting and getting ready for baby girl and . . . not writing a Single. Stinkin. Thank. You. Note. I had ignored the advice of other moms to write the notes ASAP, because I was different and I’d have time for that after the baby was born, in the whole entire 8 weeks of time I’d have before I returned to work.  (Now, any mother out there is laughing hilariously, because they all know that just didn’t happen. Ahh, the blissful ignorance of soon-to-be-mothers.)

So, baby girl is here and precious and awesome and no one has been thanked for any gift (or party!) they threw for us.

I’ve toyed with the idea of doing one of those photo announcement cards with some of the cute photos of baby girl from the last two years with a generic thank you note to everyone that I can remember was there (I’ve lost two of the three gift lists, of course). Or just trying to remember who gave us what . . . Or did the verbal thank yous at the time suffice and I have nothing to worry about?

Here’s where this gets more complicated: we’re expecting baby girl #2 this December. I’m fairly certain some of those same awesome people will throw us a shower/sprinkle.

While that’s completely amazing and we’ll be super grateful, I worry about those people who have super long memories and feel snubbed because they’ve never gotten a thank you card.

So, am I over thinking this? Is there a better way to express our late, but completely sincere, gratitude? And should I have any concerns going into the shower/sprinkle season again?

Would love to know your thoughts on the matter.

Thanks,
The imaginary thank you note writer

So I usually like to head over to more dedicated etiquette advice/guidance sites to brush up on whatever the latest prevailing “rules” are, as I’m admittedly, stubbornly old-school about a lot of things that other people don’t care much about anymore. And hilariously, the first link I clicked on was my own damn column on the topic of belated baby shower thank-you notes. In that case, however, the notes were only six months “late,” which I feel falls solidly in the realm of “perfectly understandable.”

But I still advised her to just get the notes done, MOSTLY because it would make her feel better to not have the obligation hanging over her head. (This advice brought to you by a serial procrastinator who knows the procrastination/anxiety/guilt loop well.)

I am taking the same better-late-than-never tack with you, although I recognize that’s difficult since you’ve lost gift lists and memories are fuzzy. But I would really caution against more showers/sprinkles without at least making some kind of effort. Especially since second baby showers can create etiquette snarls in and of themselves, at least in certain parts of the country.

Perhaps your shower hosts can help? If they were not properly thanked either, you should start there and then hopefully enlist them in your Belated Gratitude Crusade. Take them out for dinner and/or give them a lovely surprise gift, then come clean about the thank-you note situation. Perhaps they can at least help you remember everyone who attended, or even fill in a specific gift hole or two.

Then move on to the gift list you do have and power through it. Aim for 5-7 sentences and talk about how useful you found the gift, and plan to use it again for baby #2. Sign, seal, stamp, DONE. Believe me, it’ll feel GREAT.

If you have no idea what gift the person gave, go generic. Thank them for their attendance and “generosity.” Including photos would be a nice touch, but NOT if that added step over-complicates things for you and becomes another roadblock/procrastination device.

Here’s the bottom line, though: I think most people give baby shower thank-yous a pretty wide, understanding berth. I would personally not be too fazed or judge-y over not getting a formal thank-you note on a baby gift, because…the recipient JUST HAD A BABY. (This understanding does NOT extend to wedding thank-you notes, by the way.  That’s just rude and my side-eye will linger if you’re unable to scribble out a few lines at some point after your honeymoon.) I’m positive there are people who haven’t given your lack of notes a second thought, or never really expected one.

But there probably are people who are wondering what’s up…especially if they were particularly generous, or they didn’t attend a shower and mailed you a gift. So with these people in mind, I continue to believe it would be best to try to make SOME kind of effort before they get invited to another shower. Those invitations are bound to trigger some memories in some folks, like “heyyyy, wait a second…”

If you absolutely can’t deal with the idea of sending the notes so late, I would HIGHLY suggest you take a hard, firm “no gifts please” stance on any and all showers/sprinkles. You’re having another daughter and not much time has passed, so it’s not like you need a whole new gendered wardrobe or gave away all your baby gear. Explain that since people were SO GENEROUS to you last time, there’s simply nothing new you need as you plan to reuse all the lovely gifts as hand-me-downs. If there is something you want, you buy it yourself.

Personally, I gotta admit that a no-gifts policy might be polite regardless, since you don’t want people getting a thank-you note, then an invite, and possibly connect the two in a “oh NOW she thanks me, because she wants more stuff!” way. I know that’s not your intention, but you just never know with some people. Plus! It’ll result in fewer thank-you notes to write THIS time! Which might be worth buying your own diapers and onesies in and of itself.

 

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Comments

  • Stephanie

    I’m pretty old-school, kinda hard-ass when it comes to most etiquette situations, too, but I definitely lighten up when it comes to baby shower thank you notes.  I would almost rather not get a thank you note than have to address my own thank you card AT THE ACTUAL SHOWER.  True story, actually happened.  I was highly offended, obviously.  
    I agree that you should do your best to get those things written and sent, even though they are so very late.  If for no other reason than to make you feel better and stop feeling guilty.  I am an expert at procrastinating, so I know from lots of experience that the dread of doing something is usually way worse than actually doing it.  
    But I’d bet that most of your shower guests weren’t too put out about the lack of thank you notes.  New babies give you a bit of a pass on a lot of stuff!

    • Kerry

      Stephanie, THANK YOU for bringing up the whole addressing-your-own-thank-you-at-the-shower issue. This practice seriously horrifies me, and like you I’d rather not receive a thank you note at all! That some people don’t see how hideously tacky this is makes me weep for this generation.

    • MJH

      Seriously, you’d rather not get a note at all? My hostesses had our guests address their own envelopes and it made things so easy and helpful. Obviously I didn’t ask for this, but I think it’s counterproductive to get your panties in a bunch about it. Just don’t do it next time if it bothers you. 

  • Karen

    I agree with Stephanie (especially the part about not getting a note over having to address my own). And with Amy. In fact, I’d skip the gift specific note entirely and go straight for, “this is really late, but just wanted you to know how much joy and wonderful memories your shower brought to me before Jane was born…” Or whatever. If I got a note in the mail like that it would make my day.

  • Beeejet

    I STRONGLY disagree. If i were to receive a thank you note two years later and then a few weeks later received an invitation to a shower/sprinkle for the same person, I would think the first thank you was just a ploy to say “see I was a good girl i sent thank you note. now give me more stuff!!!!” If it had been 6 month, or maybe even up to a year later I wouldn’t think that.

    If the thank you wasn’t to be followed by an invite it wouldn’t be as bad, but I’d still find in weird that you sent me a thank you note 2 years later.
    Presumably I’ve seen you and/or the baby since the shower, why the note now?

    • Sara

      I agree.  To me, the timing screams of being super gift grabby.  It seems like the only reason the OP is getting around to sending out thank you notes is to prepare for more showers.  

      At this point, I think it is too late to send thank you notes.  By two years, people either will remember they haven’t gotten a thank you and one this late won’t make it any better, or they will have forgotten that they didn’t get a thank you and this will remind them.

      And I would not let anyone throw me more showers or other parties for baby #2.  I think 2nd time showers are tacky anyway, and the fact that the OP can’t even be bothered to write thank you notes makes it really inappropriate to have more parties.

  • KR

    I think it’s sort of up to you – you could just decide that the thank you note window has closed and give yourself permission to forget about it without guilt (perhaps coupled with a resolution to thank any gift-givers this time around immediately).  BUT if you have time for it now, tracking down hostesses and getting notes out now would be great too – I would personally find it awesome and hilarious to get a baby gift thank you note two years later, especially with some kind of self-deprecating apology/joke in it.  I also like the idea of a new baby announcement with a quick note scrawled on it thanking people for their support of your family and all of their generosity throughout these busy years, etc.  I know three options is very wishy-washy, but I suppose the conclusion is, you have a lot of options that all fall safely in the realm of non-snubbing.

    As a side-note related to previous comments, in the circles I grew up in (midwestern, largely religious and conservative), providing thank you envelopes to address to yourself at any kind of shower is viewed as a key part of responsible shower-hostessing, and not at all rude. I certainly get where it could be seen as tacky, but just wanted to point out that there are some regional and cultural differences on that front as well.

  • s

    I dunno. I am a hardcore baby shower lover. But. If I were to get a thank you note two years later and an invite to a second child shower a short time later, all I would think is gifts gifts gifts. And I don’t mind buying /giving gifts. I love to. Especially for baby showers. But this to me is.just too…. oh crap presents. I’d rather not get a thank you two years later. And if they buy you something this time, write them this.time. quickly.

  • Rachel

    I think most good-hearted people, if they even noticed the lack of a note, would be generous in understanding that new moms are often very busy and something things slip past your mind. The people who would still hold it against you two years later are really holding a grudge. If someone does bring it up, you can always pretend it got lost in the mail (if you’re okay with this kind of harmless dishonesty).

    My cousin’s wife mixed up a few gifts on her baby shower thank you notes, and my mother and grandmother were super catty about it. I personally figured the shower host mixed things up on the list, or she was a sleep-deprived new mom, and that’s perfectly understandable.

  • MR

    According to Emily Post, thank you notes are only necessary if you open the gift when you aren’t with the person (like they sent it to you or you opened it later). If you open it in their presence, you, of course, thank them in person, thus no thank you note is necessary. So, as long as you did indeed thank them all at the time, you are ok. “The rule of thumb is that you should send a written note any time you receive a gift (even a ‘thank you’ gift) and the giver wasn’t there to be thanked in person.”
    A written note in addition is nice, but not necessary.
    http://www.emilypost.com/communication-and-technology/notes-and-letters/99-thank-you-notes-to-send-or-not-to-send

  • Lindsay

    I may be in the minority here, but I’d vote you skip on the 2 years late thank yous. Getting a thank you right before another invite (even if you specify “no gifts”, since in practice I’ve found that’s very often ignored) would leave a bad taste in my mouth. That being said, I also fall into the camp that gets grumpy about not receiving thank you notes EXCEPT for baby gifts. People with new babies get a pass in my book.

  • Rachel

    Another vote for skipping the two years late thank you notes. It just seems silly to me. Especially since an invitation to a second baby shower for a baby of the same sex will be following shortly. And you thanked them in person? Job well done.

  • JH

    I believe it is absolutely necessary to thank someone for a gift, but I don’t believe that mailed notes are the only option. I hand made a hat for a friends daughter once, and was thanked in person. About a year later I got a text one day with a photo of the little girl wearing the hat, saying she had been wearing it since the moment she got up. It made my day and was a wonderful way of showing gratitude, in my opinion. I guess it depends a little on who the gifts were from, but finding a way to show how the gift has been/is being used is lovely.

  • Ash

    6 months would be fine, but 2 years is ridiculous! I would just drop it at this point. It would look incredibly grabby otherwise.

    “Hey, look, thanks for the gift, ok? I’m only saying thank you *now* in hopes that you will attend my next shower in a month or two and supply me a new gift. I didn’t care before, hence not writing a thank you card at the time.”

    That’s what it would feel like for me anyway.

  • Robin

    Oh boy…hold on to your butts:
    I don’t think we should have to give thank you notes at all.
    There, I said it, let the persecution begin!
    In my opinion, if you are giving someone a gift it should be because you are feeling generous, not because you expect anything in return. I think thank you notes were started back in the day before we had the internet, or even phones, so the gift sender knew their package had arrived safely off of the pony express. But, much like leeching the sick, perhaps it is time we move on from this tradition. (I know, leeches are still sometimes used in medicine, much like a thank you note might still be appropriate for an older relative who is confounded by email).
    I make a point of telling people that they don’t have to send me thank you notes. It’s one less thing for them to worry about, and I do not care two flips if I get one. In fact, when I do receive thank you notes, I give them a cursory glance, and then throw them in the trash. 99% of the time it is some version of the same three sentences, no matter the gift or occasion. I guess I’d rather get a hug/text with a short “thanks!” Instead of a disingenuous card with a canned sentiment that I know was a pain in the butt to write.
    Please, have mercy on my “ungrateful” soul!

    • Myriam

      I love you!

    • Sarah

      I love you too!!

  • Kirsten

    I’m totally with Robin. Who cares about a thank you card? I throw it in the trash right away. I like knowing my gift was appreciated, but I really didn’t buy the gift to be thanked by a note. Acknowledge my gift in person, send me a text, whatever, or don’t and I might ask you how you liked it. And, I agree that after 2 years, thank you cards are kind of silly. I highly doubt anyone would care or many people would remember. And I also agree that it seems super gift grabby in light of the second baby on the way. Water under the bridge. Move on and firmly decline showers. I actually think that even expecting a shower veers onto presumptuous and gift grabby territory.

    • Jackie

      Well said Robin, I AGREE. I applaud you!!