Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Thank You Note Tracking System

Long, long, ago, I married my husband and became the grateful recipient of many lovely wedding and bridal shower gifts. Unfortunately, I only made it about half way through my thank you note list before the list disappeared.

For many, many, months, I believed that my husband threw the list away. You can imagine how vindicated he felt when I FOUND the list... in a pile of papers, on my desk, at my office. (Fortunately, he's a nice guy, so he didn't rub it in much.) Yes, the paper organization at my desk was a little out of control. Do I have a picture? Let me see.... here we are on a good day:

Anyway. I feebly attempted to resume my task of writing out my wedding thank you notes. This was challenging because I was having a lot of trouble staying awake. I could manage to crawl out of bed each morning and drag myself to work more or less on time, work 8 hours, and then drag home and fall asleep on the couch. I was having to take little naps in the parking lot of the grocery store before going in to shop--and when I did muster the energy to go in, I would try very hard not to throw up.

Yes, I was expecting a baby. A Big One. It was all I could do to do my job, sleep enough, eat enough, and do all the things I needed to do to prepare to be a parent. Things that fell by the wayside included the wedding thank you notes, unpacking in our new house, cleaning our new house, and paying any attention whatsoever to my poor husband (usually I was unconscious on the couch when he arrived home).

Then, of course, when my son arrived, there was a new round of lovely gifts, meaning a new list of thank you notes needed to be written. I am proud to say that I managed to keep up with these, but I never managed  to completely complete my wedding thank you note list. I regret it to this day. (No, I don't know where the list is now... Argh!)

As a result of this sad story, I decided to set up a system in my calendar/address book to track thank you note writing. It is a very simple system, and it has worked well for over 6 years now! Any gift recorded on the list eventually has a note written for it.

How it works:

I keep a tabbed section in my planner with a set of paper titled 'Gift and Card List' (any lined paper will suffice). I simply write the person's name, the gift they gave, and the person in our family who received the gift. When the thank you note is written, I check it off on the list.

The list is impossible to lose because it's in my planner! The list is conveniently stored with my tabbed address book within the planner, so when I write a thank you note, the address that I need is immediately on hand. I can even look back and figure out who gave us a particular gift if I need to know, for instance if I want to ask a person where they found a particularly unique gift.

Thank you note tips:
  • Combine them when possible. My children were both born in August, so I am not ashamed to report that I wait until September to write thank you notes for their gifts, and combine the gifts given to both children in one note (this is changing as they are old enough to write their own notes; see below). This also works for me in December; I combine notes for my birthday and Christmas gifts from the same person.  
  • 4 year olds can write thank you notes. I have some fill-in-the-blank thank you notes that my 6 year old had been using, and I discovered that my 4 year old can write them (almost legibly!) if I spell the words letter-by-letter. This is a great way to keep her entertained when I'm working in the kitchen. She draws a puppy picture on the back of each one.
  •  Avoid keeping your list on scrap paper that can be lost easily. I keep my list in my planner so that I can't get lost in a pile. I can open the rings and remove one sheet to lists gifts given at a party, and it's always conveniently located next to my address list in the planner, which I always need when writing the thank you notes.
  • A gift bag works well as a tote to store all your note-writing supplies. This tote contains the cards and envelopes that the kids have been using to write their notes, as well as the special stamps they picked out: My son picked The Simpsons (no longer available), and my daughter picked Puppies and Kittens.
This is what works for me!

And to everyone who did NOT receive a thank you note from me for our wedding gifts, I apologize. Your gift was and still is greatly appreciated. :)


Rachel R. said...

I don't have a separate section, but my lists are in my planner, too. As nearly all gifts are attached to some specific event, they are listed with those events. And I check off each item as a TY is completed.

Now that my daughter is old enough to *write* her own but not old enough to *track* her own, though, those are getting tricky, and I don't think her birthday TY's got sent this year. Oops. We'll have to take care of those alongside Christmas notes.

Michelle said...

Yes, it's more tricky to keep track of multiple people's notes. I just list the gifts for all of us in the same list, and try to get the kids to write their notes to the same person on the same day, which is often easier said than done!

Amy said...

I have a similar system at work, where I am in charge of donations. We attached our list to a clip board and it hangs on the wall of my office. Same concept as yours- everything listed & checked off when thank-you is sent. It works great... so why didn't I think of doing this at home?? LOL! Thanks for sharing! :)

Cherry said...

Visiting from Menu Plan Monday ... good idea with keeping track of thank you notes!