Etiquette: Teacher should write thank-yous to students for gifts

For the News-DemocratDecember 9, 2013 

Q. This is my daughter's first year as a teacher at a middle school. Just as she gave a little gift (we selected it together) to her teacher each Christmas, she will probably receive some. She asked me if I thought she would have to write a thank-you note to each child or if verbally thanking the child when he gave the gift to her would be enough. She has quite a few students.

I don't remember if she got a handwritten thank-you note from her teachers when she was little, and things have changed since then. It is such a busy, almost hectic time of year for everyone. We thought we would defer the question to you.

A. Yes, I will agree with you that it is a very busy time of year and one that is exciting for little children. I remember how excited my son was when he was little when we went shopping for a gift from Santa to give to his teacher. He would naturally have to pick out the wrapping paper and help wrap it. He could hardly wait to take it to school with him.

Yes, there was a handwritten thank-you note in his backpack after he returned from the Christmas vacation. It was exciting for him to read how much his teacher liked his gift.

That was many years ago, of course, and a "busy" time for all of us. But his teachers found the time to write a thank-you note for each gift. It was proper etiquette then and it continues to be proper today.

This handwritten thank-you note provides another positive learning opportunity for the teacher to give to her students. One, hopefully, which each student will remember and follow in years to come.

Q. I have a friend in the hospital during the holidays with a life-threatening illness. Should I send a Christmas card? Even if she may not be well enough to read it?

A. Yes, definitely. Receiving cards and notes from friends when you are ill, regardless of how ill you are, is very important. A family member can open the card, tell the person who sent it, and read it to him. It helps lift the patient's spirits to know he is being remembered. There are many appropriate holiday greeting cards available from which to choose.

Taking the time to write a special personal note inside the card is definitely very, very important.

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to

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