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Should I give another gift if I don't get thanked? 20-40-60 Etiquette


 By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I have a cordial relationship with my neighbors and their daughter. Four years ago, I received a high school graduation announcement. I hand-delivered a congratulations note and enclosed a gift card. No acknowledgement or thank-you ever arrived.

I recently received a college graduation announcement announcing her completion of college. Any ideas on how to handle the situation?


Is there a graduation protocol for gifts?

CALLIE’S ANSWER: That was very considerate of you to hand-deliver a congratulations and gift card. I would have just sent a congratulations card.

For this situation, what you feel is appropriate is best. I would send a card this time due to their non-response.

LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I don’t think that graduation announcements have to trigger a gift or a card automatically from the receiver, but they’re a good way to let people who matter to you what’s going on in your life. Yes, that person should have sent a thank-you note and acknowledged your gift four years ago, but holding onto that irritation isn’t worth it. The missing thank-you doesn’t mean anything other than she was thoughtless in that moment, forgetful or had some other kind of stress. I’m not trying to excuse it, because it is important to acknowledge gifts, but don’t let that lapse four years ago determine whether you give her a graduation gift this year. Either get her a gift or card or don’t, depending on how close you are to the family; it might simply be enough to congratulate your neighbors on their daughter’s accomplishments (and ask more about them) the next time you see them.



HELEN’S ANSWER: It is very important that our children learn how to write thank-you notes. The notes can be simple and they don’t have to be very long. Parents who do not emphasize this skill for their children are remiss. You should have received one for your nice high school graduation gift.

Personally, I would send a card for the college graduation.

And parents, maybe it would help if you would get some notecards for your children to write on for their thank yous and talk with them about why you think thank you notes are important!

GUEST’S ANSWER: Devonne Carter, licensed clinical social worker who has taught etiquette classes at Oklahoma Christian University: Not everyone was taught the same manners we were. Certainly a thank-you note should be sent for graduation gifts, but there is no way to know if your neighbors even knew that or what exactly was going on in their lives at the time.

The way to educate others is to have a caring relationship with them, and to teach them kindly. Setting a good example is always the best way to teach, so if they give you a gift, make sure you send a thank-you note! A comment here or there isn't going to change others or their behavior.

Just because you were given an announcement does not require you to give the graduate a gift. You will not be rude if you do not give anything, but a card would be nice. There is nothing wrong with you giving a gift either, but you cannot expect a thank-you note. The best gift given is one without strings.

Give from the heart expecting nothing in return, mainly because we don't know everyone's circumstances.


Callie Athey is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email Helen---

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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›