Are thank you notes really necessary in the 21st century? In short. YES. My grandma taught me to always sit down after my birthday or after Christmas and write out thank you notes. Um, this is why they sell them people. They even have graduation thank yous, baby shower thank yous, wedding thank yous, etc.
Why It's Great for Children
It's called a gift for a reason. You don't really deserve it. You might think, "But it's my birthday; I deserve a gift!" Nope. A year of life is a gift in itself. Of course I love my son as you love the children in your life, and we want them to feel special on their "day." In some culture you celebrate a birthday with a celebration because literally you're still alive! You made it one more year (or to a milestone, such as 15).
Children benefit by writing thank you cards because they:
1) Have time to reflect on all the great gifts they received instead of just playing with them and forgetting about where it came from.
2) They get to practice their writing skills. Don't correct little writers too much. Aunt Sara doesn't care that pirate was spelled "pyrit." If you overcorrect them or demand perfection, it will ruin the experience and create a negative feeling towards the writing process. If you feel you must translate, write the intended message on a sticky note and include it in the card.
Note: The parent can send thank you cards on behalf of infants and toddlers either using the first person or third person point of you. "I love my new blanket," or "Johnny loves his new blanket."
Can we make homemade cards instead? Yes, definitely.
Does the card need to be mailed? No, you may hand deliver if you see that person often. If they live three states away, don't forget to mail it! The intention is nice, but if it's magnetized to your fridge for seven years that doesn't count.
Can I send a text or a Facebook message instead? Sometimes. For dinner, flowers, and other acts of random kindness the answer is probably yes. For children's birthday parties, baby baptisms, baby showers, Christmas gifts, graduation gifts, wedding showers and wedding gifts, no. Write that note on paper!
How long do I have to send a thank you note? It should be done with 30 days for most things. 90 days for weddings (gives time for the honeymoon and any moving). For a post-arrival baby gift, allow 90 days as well. For baby showers, your hosts should be willing to help you by keeping a list as you open packages of who gave what. They can also help you track down addresses. A guest book is often available at parties for this reason! To collect addresses for thank you notes.
Bottom line, say or do something to thank the person. I've sent gifts and money as gifts and never heard a thing from the child or parent. As a one income family, this is hurtful and frustrating.
Have a blessed season of giving! And don't forget those thank you notes!