Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

No, Thank You!


Hmmm, here’s a conundrum. Mrs. E. and I are the grateful recipients of thank you gifts, hostess gifts and anniversary gifts that were left beneath the tree in the library during the party. (I must learn to specify no gifts on the invite…. still, they are lovely and very well-thought out.) We will, of course, send notes of thanks for the anniversary gifts. But what about the hostess gifts? Does one pen a note to say thank you for a thank you gift?

The answers are a mixed bag, with the most popular being “a thank you on the spot is sufficient.” Unless it is a particularly expensive gift in which case a phone call the next day or a quickly penned note of thanks is not remiss.

What do you think? (And isn’t it a lovely problem to have?)

17 thoughts on “No, Thank You!

  1. Unfortunately, the hostess gifts we receive are normally unmarked bottles. We are very careful to thank profusely at the moment they are placed in hand. If we receive gifts which are labelled, we are sure to send a note the following day – I wirte these with my morning coffee, I like the early morning/ coffee/good paper/ beautful pen ritual… before dealing with the stemware!

    But, I do notice, and this is kind of funny, the new generation of military officers and their wives show empty handed (shocking), where, at home in NY people have become increasing more creative with hostess gifts. What’s going on?

  2. I can’t imagine showing up empty handed (with hands clapping to use a fun phrase I picked up from a Devonshire friend) any more than I can imagine expecting a thank you note for such a gift. The host(ess) gift is a pre-thank you for a wonderful party and in no way warrants more than a profusion of thanks on the spot.

  3. This is a lovely problem to have. And how delightful that you and Mrs E throw such wonderful parties and have such dear friends. (I’ve enjoyed the recaps.) But, in regards to gifts and thank you notes: Never should gifts vs no gifts be specified on invites in any way shape or form (as I’m planning a wedding, I’m discovering the possible but still controversial exception of listing registries on a wedding website). As for thank you notes to a hostess gift, from none other than Miss Manners: “A present is still a present, whether it is given to thank, to congratulate, to court or to apologize, and they all require thanks. It is only a letter of thanks that does not require a return letter.” I hope that helps!

  4. It is my opinion that no thanks is required for a hostess gift more than a gracious thank you at the time of receiving the gift. However, there are times when I make an exception to this:

    If the party is a huge crush and I am not answering the door myself, gifts are often left in the kitchen or on a side table. Since I wasn’t there to thank the guests directly, I typically follow up with an written card the next day for all gifts that are labelled. (the best reason to always have gift tags on hand is to label those last minute gifts for large parties!)

    Also, if I get a particularly special hostess gift – for example, a lovely bottle of french champagne or a large bundle of fresh mint from their garden, I like to follow up in conversation (preferable) or a well written email (last resort) letting them know how much I appreciated the gift once I have used it.

    Any gift for the hostess is appreciated but, of course, not required. However, I always like to repeat my appreciation for good gifts in hopes that I get more!!

  5. Why in the world would the cost of the gift determine the level of thanks? I don’t think a thank-you note is required for a hostess gift, however it would certainly be charming. If you are going to send them, though, it would be pretty tacky to only send them to people who coughed up for something fancy.

  6. Yes, it is indeed a wonderful problem to have. I know that you can use your discretion because, after all, you are quite good at these things already.

    I wanted to “thank you” for your wonderful blog in 2008, and wish you the Happiest of New Years! And congratulations on another Anniversary! My husband and I met on a New Years Eve many years ago, so we also celebrated an Anniversary of sorts. What a great day to have it!


  7. I can’t imagine showing up without anything. Even if it’s just for a small dinner with friends, I’ll bring a bottle of wine or some flowers. It’s just rude not to. I’d feel so uncomfortable if I didn’t do it. And I don’t expect a thank you note.

  8. I must agree with TBD above. To specify “no gifts” somehow implies that gifts would normally be expected, which is bad form. While Mr. B and I are of generous nature, we are weary of invites stating, “Rather than a gift for the Smiths please bring an unwrapped gift/canned good/donation for…” I’d prefer to keep my philanthropy to myself and wish these folks would do the same. I adore bringing hostess gifts as I truly am grateful that people have gone to the time and trouble to entertain me. I want to. As I’m sure your guests wanted to as it sounds like a wonderful affair. As for thank you notes, I would never expect one for a hostess gift, but it’s certainly a lovely thought.

  9. Mrs.Blandings is spot on – I think it is not necessary for a hostess gift. How fun to be showered with gifts for hosting a party! It is a lot of work to throw a party and I think most realize all the effort and appreciate that with a token, a gift or a bottle of something bubbly.

  10. I love getting thank you notes but they’re usually from my nieces and nephews! When I’m out at Marshall’s or Target I always grab some thank you cards to have around cause they’re fun to send and a reason to write! (But certainly not necessary for wine at a party…unless you want to)!

  11. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the responses to this question. I don’t think that I have ever received a thank you note for a hostess gift, nor have I sent a thank you note for gifts received when hosting a party.

    Whenever I bring a gift for a hostess, it hardly seems thanks enough for all of the time and effort put into planning and hosting a party. So, to me, it falls under the ‘letter of thanks that does not require a return letter’.

  12. Thank you notes are always correct and welcome, but I don’t think people expect one for a hostess gift. That is their thank you to you.

    Funny story, I have a friend who always sends a thank you note for my thank you note. I ask you….where does it end???

  13. I’m going to be little bit contrarian and say that I think “hostess gifts” have become overdone. The point of a dinner or party is the generosity of those giving it; the finest gift a guest can offer is to accept that generosity with modest appreciation. If a return gift becomes expected or obligatory, the social interaction takes on a tinge of bartering, in my opinion.

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