Is a Thank-You Text Ever Okay?

Here's what the experts had to say about this etiquette conundrum for our tech-obsessed times.

Cropped image of teenage girl using mobile phone
Photo: Maskot

When it comes to showing appreciation for gifts and grand gestures, our mamas taught us to always, always pen a handwritten thank-you note. But what about those smaller, equally thoughtful moves, like when a neighbor brings over some blueberries from his backyard or a coworker grabs an extra coffee for you on her way to work? In an era where we've grown accustomed to social media and lightning-fast responses, we often wonder—is a thank-you text ever an appropriate substitute for a handwritten note? We asked a few Southern experts for their opinions. Here's what they had to say.

It's Never a Bad Idea to Say Thank You

"Expressing gratitude in any way is always okay," says Catharine Knight, sales director of Arzberger Stationers, a 100-year-old correspondence company in Charlotte, North Carolina. "Everyone is busy; sometimes a text is the only thing that can fit into a day. That said, we strongly believe in the power of a handwritten note. If you want to give thanks for something truly meaningful, we believe a note on personal stationery is the means to do so. The recipient feels an instant connection to the writer, who spent the time to write and send the note. What you're giving thanks for took time – shouldn't your appreciation take a little extra time and effort?"

Jennifer Hunt, founder and CEO of Birmingham, Alabama-based stationer Dogwood Hill, agrees. "A thank you in any form is always better than no thank you at all," says Hunt. "If it's a hectic time and someone has brought something like a meal or gift, a thank-you text in the moment or when the item is being used is a nice way to make sure you do it. But it is always best to follow up with a thank-you note."

A Text Is a Good First Step

"In a technologically driven world, many people expect a thank you instantly, so we do believe it is ok to text and confirm the receipt of a gift," says Taylor Haley Younts, founder and owner of Surcie, a paper goods and gift company in Raleigh, North Carolina. "However, it is always best practice to follow up with a handwritten thank-you note. Texts can be overlooked or delivered at inopportune times, so the extra step of writing and mailing a personalized note ensures your message of gratitude is received."

Even Small Gestures Deserve a Note

Whether or not you send a note shouldn't be determined by the size of the gift or the extent of someone's kindness, so keep stationery on hand to make it easy to dash off words of thanks, says Rachelle Logan, founder of North Carolina-based R U Ready School of Etiquette and Media Training. "Our neighbors sent over a big thing of doughnuts," she says. "I have a little box of all kinds of thank-you notes for any occasion. I just popped one out, handwrote a note to the neighbor, and sent it over. I could have yelled, 'Hey, thank you!' But to me, it's more personable [to send a note]." Roxine Blomstrom, the certified etiquette expert behind Manners Matter School of Protocol in Franklin, Tennessee, agrees. "A personal note is the best way to say thank you," says Blomstrom. "Everyone likes to get a nice note of appreciation in the mail."

Long Story Short?

Mama can rest easy: The handwritten thank-you note still reigns supreme. While a quick text or email works well as a placeholder, they're no substitute for a thoughtful message carefully penned on your favorite stationery.

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