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Saying thank you to the host

When ever we go out to dinner round someone's house, I always write a short email afterwards to say thanks.

The other day one of our friends made comment that last time they invited us over for dinner, we were the only couple who wrote after to say thanks. There were six other couples there that evening.

I then got thinking and it does appear that when we have had guests round not many of them do write and say thanks after the event.

What is the general view on this?

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  1. I always thank hosts when I'm leaving. It would never occur to me to write as well. No-one has ever written to us, either.

    1. A thank you as you're leaving the event followed up by an email of thanks is our norm.

      1. why does it matter if the guests are round?

        1 Reply
        1. The established custom in the US, generally speaking, is that one should write a thank you note within the week after the dinner; email has become an acceptable way of doing this but a spectacular dinner might merit a beautiful handwritten note sent by post. The bringing of a hostess gift - which is utterly optional - does not absolve one of post-event expression of gratitude. Also, one normally has a social obligation to reciprocate according to your means - hosting begets reciprocal hosting.

          That said, many younger adults today have been taught little or none of this.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S

            Plus 1 to everything Karl S said with this one minor edit:

            "That said, many adults today have been taught little or none of this."

          2. It appears that a thoughtful thank-you note or email for ANYTHING has gone the way of the buggy whip and the black and white television.

            1. I host many dinner parties and rarely get thank you notes... but I also don't expect them. When I do get one I think that it's a really great gesture and that the person has great manners! If someone has me over I'll often shoot off a very quick email saying that I had a great time.


              1. This used to be a standard custom. Not anymore. Customs, etiquette, social norms all seem to be changing at a fast pace. Occasionally, I will send one, but I don't bother anymore most of the time.

                Thank you notes (in general) are few and far between in most social circles in the USA. I think the only thank you note that everyone agrees is still a (necessary and expected social norm) is a wedding gift thank you note.

                1 Reply
                1. re: sedimental

                  Thank You text messages appear to be in style.

                2. I send an email or a text the next day for a casual get together. For something that's more of an occasion, I'll send a note- Christmas dinner, first time meeting the in laws, that kind of thing.

                  1. Unless something extraordinary happened, I have to say that it wouldn't occur to me to send a thank you note to the host/ess... I thanked them for inviting me, brought them a hostess gift, and thanked them for a nice time when I left. Putting it in writing seems a little superfluous.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Kajikit

                      <putting it in writing seems a little superfluous>

                      I appreciate your honesty. This also could explain why so many manners have gone out the window….opening the door for someone, etc. Giving up a seat to a person who looks like they could use it more than me...
                      Unnecessary mannerisms.
                      I've never NOT written a handwritten thank-you note afterward to show appreciation for an obvious gesture of kindness whether it be an invitation to dinner or a gift or even a call from an old friend who's calling to inquire.
                      I love the elegance of it, the graciousness of it and the thought of it. It's certainly not necessary, but what mannerism really is, if we really think about it?

                      1. re: latindancer

                        Customs and traditions are not necessarily manners. Just because you insist on one method of thanking someone, does not mean another is incorrect or unmannerly.

                        1. re: LeoLioness

                          I have a very dear friend, who lives in Japan, who not only writes beautiful thank-you letters for the slightest gesture of kindness, but also sends little gifts of thanks for me being kind to her family members.
                          It's inspiring and I find her 'manners', albeit her tradition and her culture, to be impeccable.
                          Times have changed, of course, however manners are manners.
                          I don't 'insist' on anything. However, when I receive a handwritten note of thanks or another person opening the door for me or a man waiting to the side of an elevator to allow me to walk in first…
                          It's good manners, no matter how it's spun.

                        2. re: latindancer

                          IMO, one's style of thanking a dinner host has NOTHING to do with such courtesies as holding doors. I agree with Kajikit that a written note compounded with personal, verbal thanks upon arrival and departure, and a gift, is overkill. Though I'm now in the position of BEING the person who needs the seat, when I was a younger and healthier woman I'd always offer my seat to someone who looked frail, ill, elderly, pregnant, etc. (though there was usually a seated, apparently able-bodied man ignoring their plight). But I would not then ask the person if s/he was comfy, then moments later ask how s/he was feeling, then still later if everything was okay. That's overdoing it to the point of insult. If Kajikit were my guest, and followed up as she describes, then also wrote a note or special thank-you e-mail, or called solely to thank me yet again, I'd think she was weird, or maybe desperate for invitations, or worse, that she thought I was so lacking in self-esteem or confidence that I needed extra bolstering.

                          In the last couple of years, I have had to use a cane, and limp while walking. I used to be a fast walker, and am now slow. I am surprised at how many people - both those I know, and strangers - hold doors open, offer to help me load groceries into my car, etc. Even if I tell them it's okay and to go ahead of me, they usually wait for me to get to the door they're holding open. (I don't need doors held, actually. I still hold them for people with kids in tow, carriages, walkers, parcels, etc. - who DO need them held.) Manners aren't as dead as I'd have thought until recently.

                      2. We almost always send a hand written thank you. I can't remember the last time we didn't!

                        I'll figure out a way to finagle their home address out of them - as an example, we spent the weekend with friends at their home away from home (ranch with no mail service) and I got their real home address so we could send them a proper thank you.

                        1. President & Mrs. George H. W. Bush always wrote thank-you notes every night before going to bed. This was considered charming and weird, like seeing the last of the Dodo birds.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: mwhitmore

                            I have friends who do this who are 40 years younger than they....

                          2. We usually trade off hosting with the same friends so we might text saying how good a dish was or something like that but we'd be writing a lot of the same notes back and forth every time. Sometimes you host, sometimes you are the guest. For us, it's all a wash. Of course, we do thank them when we leave their house.

                            1. My mother taught me to write what she called "bread and butter notes" after being invited for dinner at someone's house, but this always seemed so 1960s to me and no one I know has ever done it! If I was invited, I would of course thank them after the meal and then send an email the next day saying how much I enjoyed the meal. Honestly, however, we haven't been invited to a dinner party in at least 10 years, so maybe it is because I don't send handwritten thank you notes, LOL!

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Kat

                                Yes, the bread and butter letter.

                                Emily Post in 1922 on correspondence including B&B letters, for reference:


                                A lot of this is still quite useful; the engraving stuff, less so. (I have engraved stationery from when I did personal invitations for my parents' 50th anniversary 15 years ago (they just celebrated their 65th anniversary!), and I am still using it up (minimum run of 500), but most people of my generation don't have engraved stationery - my mother loved her Shaded Antique Roman stationery, so I honored them with getting some of my own.)

                                1. re: Karl S

                                  Thank you so much for this link, I now know this history of her insistence on the"bread and butter note" and it's not the 1960s, it's the 1920s! Too funny, that is even way before her time, she must have learned it from her mother. Loved the rest of the link too, I never knew that thank you notes from people who live in large country houses should be fancier than those who live in small houses; my own thank you notes should then probably be written on scrap paper, pursuant to the size of my house!

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    How interesting! I had to laugh at the envelope guidelines- "the flap...should be plain and the point not unduly long". I hope people haven't been judging me on my gaudy pointed flap envelopes :)

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      Stationery has changed. The need to express gratitude after the fact, to reinforce the cycle of mutual social obligation, has not.

                                      Of course, back in the 1920s, Americans in cities got mail twice a day (in England at one point in the 19th century, it was up to five times a day, IIRC). During WW2, my mother wrote 3 letters a day her eventual husband who was in the US Army from 1943-46.

                                      Writing thank you notes is no more laborious today than it was in the 1920s or 1940s (we might complain we don't have time, but working hours were longer and household chores much more laborious in those era; we just fill that time saved with other tasks); indeed, with technological options, it's even easier. While failing to do it might no longer *necessarily* indicate a boorish lack of manners in the way it used to, doing it will still indicate the presence of continued thoughtfulness.

                                      1. re: Karl S

                                        Oh, I agree with you. I didn't mean to suggest I thought thank you notes were outdated or unnecessary. Frankly, I love stationery and send cards and letters as often as possible. My little brother just got back from deployment in Afghanistan and said he loved getting mail and appreciated the cards and letters I'd sent...though possibly not the glitter. I just thought the idea of your, uh, flap pointiness as an expression of crassness was quaint.

                                        1. re: Karl S

                                          <doing it will still indicate the presence of continued thoughtfulness>

                                          So true.
                                          As is the occasional gentleman who's, although not necessary, manners and thoughtfulness allow him to open the door for a woman rather than hurry to jump in front of the woman to get through that door before she does.
                                          Opening the door for the woman is surely not necessary (the woman is capable of doing it herself) but he shows thoughtfulness and respect of that woman.
                                          Unnecessary mannerisms, once again, are just pure examples of great character, in my opinion.

                                  2. I will send a note if it was something like my husband's boss or a new acquaintance, but usually it's the same old people I see all the time - family or friends who would think I was crazy for being so formal. I also run in a pretty casual crowd where "dinner party" might mean "come over for pizza" or "we made a big pot of chili".

                                    1. I do a day after thank you, in the form of a text, email or Facebook message. Never a written note anymore.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. How appropriate. A friend sent me an email this morning thanking me for the vegetarian Jamaican pies I had brought to their house for a party. They enjoyed the remainders with apple sauce, a combination I would not have thought of.

                                        Warm fuzzy on my part.

                                        1. I think a thank-you note (at the very least, a next-day phone call) is mandatory. Also, the dinner guest should reciprocate by inviting the hosts to their home (or out to a restaurant) in the next couple of months.

                                          1. No I don't write thank you notes, I give the husband a firm shake of the hand a sincere thank you while maintaining eye contact. Then I give the wife a warm and passionate kiss on the lips and a swat on the fanny if the food was truly exceptional.

                                            I rarely get invited back.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                              "I rarely get invited back."

                                              Really? I wonder why? ;-)

                                              1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                If you want to get invited back, don't be so reticent.

                                            2. Speaking from the perspective of a host, although I don't view a written thank you as mandatory, I am always so delighted when I get one. We hosted a small NYE party recently and received one email thank you, about a week later. Yes, all our guests thanked us verbally when they were leaving, including the author of the email, and I don't feel that they "owed" us any more than that but it was extra nice to get the written thank you too.

                                              Sadly, as often as I intend to follow up with a written thank you, I don't do so consistently.

                                              1. I usually pop a thank you note in the mail the next day, I have a nice collection of vintage thank you notes that I love sending. It's deeply engrained in me to send a note- my Mother always sat us down with the notes the day after a holiday or whenever we had received a gift. She didn't make it a "You have to do this" kind of thing, she just helped create a good habit.

                                                We also frequently show up with flowers and wine (having asked the host/ess "what kind of wine can we bring for dinner?") We enjoy doing it.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. First i will never ever arrive at a party empty handed. Even if when asked can i bring anything and the reply is oh no not a thing, i will either have flowers, or homemade treats, or a bottle of wine.
                                                  Before leaving i am sure to thank the host/hostess although in the chaos and post-imbibing i'm not sure who remembers what.

                                                  I assume that if i would like another invite i should be a gratious guest! In casual gatherings with close friends i send an email or text, for more formal gatherings (thanksgiving at my friends' parents home) i will send a physical card- nice stationary, no pre-written hallmark stuff

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                    We have dear neighbors that go over the top to make a nice dinner.

                                                    When we are invited, we bring a hostess gift (candied nuts or a bottle of wine) and then, often I will bring some home made cake, with the direction that they should not serve it to the guests, it is for them, so that they can have it the next morning, with coffee, so they can have a treat and not cook first thing in the am after a big party.

                                                    We always get invited back : )

                                                  2. We always write handwritten Thank You notes. I purchase beautiful blank note cards every year specifically for this purpose. We have impressed upon our son (25) the importance of Thank You notes for gifts, invitations etc. Many have repeatedly expressed their gratitude for our "lovely note."

                                                    My husband is a writer and writes me a poem or letter for every Holiday or occasion we celebrate in our lives. He also writes letters to our son and our nieces and nephews for important events in their lives, graduations, milestones, weddings, for example.

                                                    We just don't feel an email has the same gravitas as a written note, but that could be us showing our age (mid-40's).

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Jerseygirl111

                                                      Handwritten is good. And it's what I do for my hubby and he for me.

                                                      But for a casual dinner, an email is fine. If I realized they've gotten extra formal? A BIG email, or a handwritten card, or a baked treat, dropped off with a note of thanks.

                                                    2. I always send a thank you email, generally the next day.

                                                      If I am dealing with folks who are not on email, or don't like it, I try to do a card within a week.