Dear Miss Card Etiquette,
I received a gift about a month ago, and I hate to admit this, but I have not gotten around to sending a thank you card. I’ve been extremely busy, and time just got away from me. Should I even bother to send out a thank you?
While of course it’s best to send your thank you cards promptly (within a week or two is best), it is never too late to thank someone for a gift or kindness. The touchy part is how to say thank you, after more than a month has passed since the gift or event that prompted it. Naturally, you’re torn between simply saying thank you as if no time had passed, or writing a virtual diary of everything that’s happened since you should have sent your thank you, by way of an excuse.
Neither of those options really works very well though. The first option shows disregard for the recipient, as if to say, “Well, thanks. But it wasn’t important enough to bother saying anything at the time,” while the second option comes across as if you’re making excuses at best, and at worst invites disaster (“Oh, you think YOU’VE had a hard time!”) if your recipient has had something terribly stressful happen to them
since the gift or event transpired!
As with most situations that involve apology, it’s generally best to keep your late thank you’s simple, but not flippant. A simple “So sorry I let the time get away from me, but I do want to thank you for X,” will suffice for most business correspondence. Then again, if you’re really good with humor, you might make up a story about being lost in the African wilderness after a photo-safari gone awry …
Here is our complete selection of thank you cards, for expressing your prompt as well as belated gratitude.