I attended a destination wedding in the spring. I didn’t bring a gift because I didn’t want to carry a large item with me on the plane and then make the newlyweds transport it home. The couple didn’t have a registry, but a month ago I bought them a gift and had it shipped to their New York City apartment. It was a Le Creuset cast-iron Dutch oven that cost $280.
I received notification from the retailer that it had arrived, but I haven’t heard from the newlyweds to let me know they’ve received it. I’m not upset that they haven’t sent a thank-you note — it would be nice, but I know they are busy professionals and may not have gotten around to it. My concern is that they didn’t receive the gift. I don’t want them to think I didn’t send them anything.
“‘My concern is that they didn’t receive the gift. I don’t want them to think I didn’t send them anything.’”
They live in an apartment, and I’m not sure what the mail situation is. Some people’s packages are left on their front doorstep, while other buildings have doormen or mailrooms. The groom is my husband’s much-younger cousin and we are not very close to the couple. We are closer to their parents.
Side note: We went to a wedding a few years ago and the couple registered for gift cards to be sent to the bride’s parents’ house. We sent a $250 gift card, which they never received because the family thought it was junk mail and threw it away! I learned this after reluctantly contacting the couple, who also hadn’t thanked us.
I am reluctant to contact the newlyweds and ask if they got the gift because I don’t want to seem like I’m guilting them for not sending a thank-you note quickly enough. Any advice on how to proceed?
Given the considerate tone of your letter, and the fact that we all know deliveries go awry, I think it’s safe enough for you to ask.
My rule in life, even if it drives some people barmy, is: More communication is better than less communication — as long as it’s direct rather than underhanded.
It’s better to ask, if you get the impression that something is not right, whether everything is OK. Even if they say yes and the honest answer is no, they’ll know you care, and they’ll know they can talk to you to when the time is right. It’s better, for example, to smooth things over with a family member that you fell out with and say you want to make things right. It’s better to clarify that email to a colleague at work over Slack or G-Chat. It makes more sense to speak up and make sure you understand the details of a contractor’s estimate if you believe you misheard him.
It’s better to have that difficult conversation with your boss. And it’s always better for people who who do speak up a lot, particularly at work, to encourage other people to have their voices are heard: younger co-workers, and those who may end up taking that back seat in a meeting, and not contributing their — often times — equally valuable ideas. Bottom line: always say more rather than less when you are trying to clarify something or solve a puzzle. Just don’t do it by text. Too many relationships, personal and professional, have come a cropper via text and email.
“‘Is it better that you know they received the gift you sent, even if you risk them thinking you’re being passive-aggressive? Or is it better that it got lost or stolen, and they always wonder why you never sent them a present?’”
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest — I know, it was a lot — yes, it’s better to just ask the couple or their parents if they got the gift, because you aren’t sure it was delivered. You could say something like, “Did you receive something in the mail from me? I want to make sure it didn’t get lost. The last time I sent a gift to someone it never arrived, so I always worry that they delivered it to the wrong address or someone stole it from the foyer.”
Is it better that you know they received the gift you sent, even if you risk them thinking you’re being passive-aggressive? Or is it better that it got lost or stolen, and they always wonder why you never sent them a present? Those are two extremes, but I would take the former over the latter.
The other thing that gets lost in the mix: People know people. We receive so much information about our friends and family members by how they navigate the world and through third parties. The kind of person who will send a letter to the Moneyist concerned about all aspects of this question of etiquette is not the kind of person others believe would go to any lengths just to get a thank-you note.
Also, great gift. That Le Creuset pot will last a lifetime.
Sod’s law may, of course, ensure that no sooner have you asked this question than you will see a thank-you card in the mail. So maybe wait one more month, and if you haven’t heard back by then, ask. If you receive a thank-you note the same day as you ask the question, you can blame me.
Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas.
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The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.
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