Is it acceptable to email a thank you?

This coming Friday is the anniversary of the death of Johannes Gutenberg, the man who invented the printing press and revolutionized the communication of God's Word and much more.  In celebration of his life, I was planning to share some information about the importance of various communication technology and how it has changed our lives. Then, last week someone emailed me with a question about thank you cards in the Information Age.  It fit right in with my plans this week so I thought I'd share my answer today and expand on it a bit to include the role of technology on thankfulness.  On Wednesday I'll share more about communication technology and on Friday I have a fun video that will help celebrate the day in style. The original question was if a formal, hand written thank you note was still necessary in the Information Age and if there were lessons children could still learn by writing formal thank you notes.  I found there really were four parts to this question and so I took them one at a time. 1. Are thank you notes necessary or, to save time, can we simply call or email a thank you? It really depends upon your recipient.  The idea of a thank you note is to express appreciation for what you have received.  It’s not a matter of what you do as much as it is how the other person feels when you do it.  I doubt Aunt Martha, who is 96 years old, will feel the appreciation as much over email—if she even HAS email.  If Aunt Martha always sends YOU a thank you note, then it’s probably best to do the same for her.  You may also need to consider how often you actually see Aunt Martha.  If she lives far or you don’t see her but three times a year, it’s best to be more formal in showing your appreciation.  If your five year old receives a birthday gift from his best friend who lives next door, a call or thank you at the time may be all that’s needed.  Billy knows just how much Bobby loves his truck because he plays trucks with him every day! 2. What can kids learn from writing thank you notes? PLENTY!  Writing thank you notes or anything else, for that matter, will help children’s penmanship, communication skills, manners, spelling, grammar, writing skills, and much more. 3. Is penmanship all it’s cracked up to be in the Information Age? Actually, yes!  Most SAT tests and colleges still have blue books for essays where your penmanship is essential for the poor dear grading the tests.  Additionally, notes are still used at various places of employment as well as on the fridge telling Mary that Betty called. 4. What really shows appreciation? Sending a thank you note once really doesn’t show appreciation.  It simply says thank you…ONCE!  To truly show appreciation, we should take every opportunity to show the giver that we appreciate their gift.  I talk about this extensively in an article I wrote a while back. Here is the link: As technology changes, the way in which we communicate has to change.  Some of that is a good thing--a very good thing.  If it weren't for the internet, I'd not be able to talk to all of you good people.  What needs to be remembered is the purpose of our communication.  If our purpose is to make someone feel good or appreciated or supported, then the how of it may become vital because it implies not how convenient it is for us to share, but how it will be interpreted by the one we seek to influence. ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~ JoJo Tabares holds a degree in Speech Communication, but it is her humorous approach to communication skills which has made her a highly sought-after Christian speaker and writer.  Her articles appear in homeschool publications, such as Homeschool Enrichment Magazine and The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, which also endorses her Say What You Mean curricula.  You can also find JoJo on web sites such as and  For more information on communication FUNdamentals and Christian-based communication skills for the whole family, please visit If you liked this post, please subscribe to our RSS feed and share the link…


  • A celebration of communication technology

    […] I shared on Monday, I’m celebrating communication technology this week in honor of Johannes Gutenberg (the […]

  • JoJo

    Thanks for commenting, Lisa.

  • Lisa Buffaloe

    I so appreciate someone who takes the time to send a thank you note — whether in the mail or over e-mail. That extra effort means so much!

    Thank you for bringing up some great points.

  • JoJo

    Glad you both enjoyed the article and thank you for taking the time to comment. Cindy, I love getting cards too but I’m fine with an email or phone call depending upon how the person reacts. I don’t think I’d feel too appreciated if I got an email that just said, “Thanks.”

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