Two etiquette wrongs don’t make a right.

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I adore finding for gifts for my loved ones. When I get home from a trip or fly to visit my family, it’s rare that my suitcase makes it upstairs before I’ve spilled half its contents onto the living room floor looking for the gifts I brought with me. I can hardly wait to see the looks on their faces when they open what I picked out for them.

As I celebrate my friends through joyous occasions like weddings or birthdays, I wish I could be there to see them read their cards and tear open the wrapping paper. This isn’t always an option. While I don’t get to see their smiles, I can look forward to a handwritten card in the mail.

In Southern Living’s Facebook group, “There’s No Excuse for Bad Manners,” our readers comment to say that they don’t always receive a thank-you note after sending a gift to someone’s home. Members of our manners crew often share the concern that no acknowledgement of a gift means that the recipient never even received it. Well ladies and gentlemen, a situation with no thank-you note is just another opportunity for your etiquette A-game.

When you’ve spent time picking out something special for a friend or family member, it might be tempting to contact her and ask if she received your present. More times than not, this will come across as if you’re requesting a note. I would hate for a dear friend to think that I expected something in return. Here’s what to do when someone doesn’t say thank you.

Instead of immediately reaching out to the newlyweds, the birthday girl, or the expectant mother, try a few other methods first. When you took the gift to ship, did you get a tracking code? In today’s digital age, it’s easy to know exactly when your gift will be delivered. If the item came directly from the department store or boutique, give them a call to ensure that what you chose actually made it out of the shop.

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If all else fails, take a moment to catch up with your friend on the phone or in person. After you’ve had a chance to ask about her life lately, go the subtle route and give her an opportunity to mention the gift. You chose to give her a piece of china as her wedding gift? Bring up how much you loved the pattern she chose. You gave your friend a driftwood picture frame for her birthday? Mention how much you enjoyed seeing her family’s beach photos on Instagram this year. There are certainly situations that call for a more direct approach, but I prefer to first tackle this dilemma with as much care as possible.

We give our friends presents to celebrate them, and the last thing we want to do is make them feel guilty for not expressing their gratitude in a timely manner. While I believe thank-you notes are an important part of our gracious culture, I would hate to ruin the festive nature of gifting by reminding my friend of an item that could already be on her very long to-do list. Who’s with me?  

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