The Gift of Time

Wedding stationery

Maids-of-honor and bridesmaids take note: If you’re absolutely stymied when it comes to a thoughtful shower gift for the bride-to-be, why not give your gal pal the gift of some free time? I recently read a tale about a very astute bridesmaid who, in lieu of (or perhaps in addition to) a physical bridal shower present for the guest of honor, gave the bride-to-be the gift of pretty thank you notecards with envelopes that were already addressed to all of the shower attendees. All the bride-to-be had to do was write out her thank you cards, affix some stamps to the already-addressed envelopes, and drop the whole works in the mail.

Sound like a great gift? Take it to the next level by including postage stamps on each addressed envelope so the bride-to-be doesn’t have to make a side trip to the post office.

12 Responses to “The Gift of Time”

  1. MissPinkKate says:

    Thank-you notes are the bride’s responsibility; the chance to say thank you to the people who have blessed her with their time, money and attention. I would die of embarrassment if someone gave me a “gift” that seemed to suggest that I wasn’t going to get around to this part of wedding planning myself.

  2. Toni says:

    I was just about to pop in and say that this is a pretty controversial trend, but I guess Kate beat me to it. I’ll admit, I did exactly this for my best friend at her shower, but again, she’s my best friend, I know she’s one of the biggest etiquette mavens around, she knows I know this, and therefore my gift was in no way a slight on her social skills.

    This seems like one of those “make sure you know your recipient well and know that the ‘gift’ will be taken in the intended light” sort of occasions. And personally, while I have no problem with writing thank-you notes, I hate the addressing the envelope part of the process, so I’d be thrilled with a gift like this.

  3. Twistie says:

    I would tend to assume the best intentions of someone who did this for me…but I must admit I’m quite relieved nobody gave me this gift for my shower.

    After all, I’d already bought thank you notes and stamps in full expectation that when I got home, I would pretty much immediately start writing the thank you notes. It would have been a pity to waste the pretty notecards I’d already gotten for the purpose.

  4. MissPinkKate: I never even thought of it that way! It didn’t strike me as any more controversial than a gift of monogrammed stationery, but maybe I just assume that people have the best of intentions? Admittedly, I already had my thank you cards ready by my shower, but I wouldn’t have minded if someone had offered to address them for me 😉

    Toni: Great point! This is indeed one of those gifts that works best when one is veeeeery familiar with the needs and wants of the recipient. Like you, I hate addressing envelopes, but The Beard was kind enough to help me out.

    Twistie: In advance of my shower, I bought a box of something like 200+ thank you cards, and I’m still using them to this day! Someone in my pre-natal fitness class asked whether it would be weird to use them to thank people for baby gifts, and I said I didn’t think so. The ones I have are very elegant and basic — just gold lettering and a border on cream cardstock — so they’ve proven useful well into the future. Of course, while it’s been a while, I do hope no one who received one in 2006/2007 notices I’m still working my way through the box!

  5. Melissa B. says:

    At my shower, my matron of honor mentioned that she almost bought me some thank-you cards, but then felt weird because she knew I’d be writing one to her! As she put it, “It was like, ‘here are some thank-you cards. Write me one.'”

    I wouldn’t have been offended at the gift, though. I had already purchased thank-you cards in anticipation of writing them after the shower, but when it comes to weddings you can never have enough thank-you notes on hand! And honestly, receiving pre-stamped, pre-addressed cards from a close friend would say to me, “I know you’re going to do this and I’ve made it a bit easier for you,” not, “I know you’ll never do this unless I guilt you into it.” Toni’s maxim, “know thy recipient,” is a good one.

    Weirdly, I don’t mind addressing envelopes, but I HATE hand-writing my return address on them. I think the repetitiveness is what kills me. Maybe personalized return address stamps or stickers would be a good shower gift for the bride-to-be too!

  6. SusanC says:

    I was brought up with the tradition that ANY thank you note or other mailed greeting always needs a little personalization- at the very least a line or two from the writer to the recipient exclaiming how wonderful it was to see the person, expressing an appreciation for the SPECIFIC gift brought, and something to make it clear that the writer actually knows the recipient from Adam. (And in your handwriting, not your Mom’s, for the cheaters out there.) I’d rather get a handwritten, thoughtful note on the back of a store receipt than an embossed and gilded note card from someone who couldn’t manage to do more than sign her name. After all, what am I going to do with it: frame it? display it on a mantle with Precious Moments figurines? Hah!

    If this burden of personalizing thank-yous is too much, then don’t invite so many people to your event, whatever it is. It would be okay if this “gift of time” were to do all of the work- up to, but not including, writing this greeting. As as stated earlier, the giver needs to know the bride well to offer this.

    And for NtB, it’s great that you have a big stack of notecards and are working through them. I doubt that any of your recipients would think ill of you for using the same pattern. Probably all they will notice is “Wow, someone who actually writes nice thank yous.”

  7. Melissa B.: You can never have too many thank you cards on hand? Maybe… I have a whole desk drawer full of them! Unless people start buying me gifts left and right, I think I’ll be working my way through them until I’m dead.

    SusanC: In this case, it was only the envelopes that were addressed with the names and addresses of shower attendees. The thank you cards themselves were blank inside, not pre-written. THAT would indeed be bad form!

  8. What a fabulous idea! It didn’t occur to me that anyone would take offense, either, but if that might be the case, perhaps the next option would be to tell the bride you will spend a Sat afternoon with her addressing invitations and thank-yous. I have crummy handwriting, so if a friend with nice penmanship made such an offer, I would jump on it.

  9. Twistie says:

    class factotum, my MOH helped me address invitations. Considering that my handwriting looks a bit like the chicken scratch is having an acid flashback, I was wildly grateful for that help. Otherwise, I might still be trying to write out those invites in a way that people could read them. I managed to write some by working slower than molassass in January, and she has very clear handwriting. Since we only had to address about sixty envelopes, we got them done in one evening while gossipping.

    So yes, offering to help address invitations would very likely be a welcome suggestion.

  10. Jennifer says:

    This is brilliant! I love it!

  11. rabrab says:

    I see a huge difference between giving a box of thank-you cards already filled in and giving a box of thank-you notes with the envelopes addressed. The first is just tacky, the second is, to me, a thoughtful way of giving the bride-to-be some time.

    Now, if the bride-to-be simply shoves the cards into the addressed envelopes without adding so much as a “I’m glad you came to the shower,” that’s tacky too, but it’s *her* being tacky, not me.

  12. La BellaDonna says:

    I’ll put in a “thoughtful” vote here, for a box of pre-addressed, stamped cards – but my hands constantly hurt, so for me, it WOULD be a thoughtful gift to receive. Writing out a single full address on an envelope makes my hand flare with crippling pain, so I’d be all YES! for the guest who put that much thought into making my life a little simpler and a little better.