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20-40-60 Etiquette: Sealed, delivered, but not signed?

Reader has plan to get thank-you notes sent in return. [Thinkstock photo] 

Reader has plan to get thank-you notes sent in return. [Thinkstock photo] 

QUESTION: I have read all your various questions and answers about writing thank-you notes and I have two good answers to the problem, especially the grandchildren. When I send a check to all the grandchildren for Christmas and birthdays, I hear from them immediately. Why? Because I did not sign the check.

Also, my friend gets a thank you sometimes and always sends cash to the sender of the thank-you note, as a little thank-you to them. She always politely thanks them the child for writing and says she knows they need a little extra cash. My question? Any other creative ideas for problem solving about thank-you notes?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Money is always a great incentive. Other options could be an activity they might want to do or a special gift they would want. I will say, as children get older, hopefully, they won't need incentives.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: Not signing the check to me seems passive aggressive and negates the fact that this is a gift. It indicates that there is an expectation packaged with the gift, and that it is given assuming the worst. Yes, we should all be thanking people for gifts, but not signing the check in order to get a thank-you doesn't seem like the gift was freely given. I like your friend's idea, however, although it's a lot of extra effort. That's a good way to reinforce how nice it is to receive a note and teach them at the same time.

HELEN'S ANSWER: Readers, do you have any creative thoughts to add to these ideas?

Thank-yous must be very hard for the younger generation as the 20-40-60 team has had this question many times. Parents need to see that their children have proper thank-you notes for the occasion and should teach them how to use them.

The children can get creative themselves, but they MUST learn to thank people who give them gifts or help them in any way.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Susie Nelson, community volunteer: With the check, send a stamped postcard with clever things that they can check and comment on, like:

yes, I love cash gift cards are welcome special information for grandmother the best thing that happened this week something I am thankful for I need new shoes Please complete questionnaire, check all that apply and sign.

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