Did My Niece & Nephew Get The Gifts I Sent?

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Dear Miriam, 

I sent my niece and nephew gifts for Hanukkah, now more than two months ago. I am getting together with them next week and realized I never heard a word about the gifts – forget a thank you card, I didn’t even get a text that they were received. What is the best way to inquire about this when we’re together? 


Annoyed Aunt


Dear Annoyed,

For most people, most of the time, writing thank you cards has gone the way of, well, writing any kind of card or sending any kind of mail. B’ mitzvahs and weddings are notable exceptions. And just for good measure, I’ll throw in that anyone who expects a thank you card for a baby gift needs to adjust their expectations. 

But you’re not really asking about a formal card; you’re asking about some acknowledgment of receipt, some communication that proves that your efforts were noticed. I get it! Being acknowledged is excellent. And yet, sometimes having to do the acknowledging is an unaccomplishable task, a burden, or simply not a priority.

Before you see your family next week, send your niece and nephew’s parent (preferably the one you’re directly related to) a text and simply ask, “Hey, did your kids ever get the Hanukkah gifts from me?” Hopefully the answer will be “Yes of course! Thank you so much. Sorry we didn’t say something sooner. The kids love them.” It is possible, though, that the gifts never arrived or the fact that the kids didn’t love them meant that a thank you was even less of a priority. Whatever the response, be gracious and forgiving, and don’t let this interaction get in the way of your upcoming visit, which is why I’m suggesting you get this out of the way before rather than during your visit. 

Consider bringing something with you next week that can serve as an activity when you’re together. Depending on the ages of the kids and their interests, this could be a board game, art project, read-aloud book, or outdoor toy. You won’t need to wait for an acknowledgment because you’ll see them use it and interact with them at the same time. You won’t wonder if they like it because you’ll be able to gauge immediately their reaction. 

Next Hanukkah, or birthdays, or whenever you next want to send a gift, consider sending a preemptive message to the parent that says, “Gifts will be arriving shortly. Would love to know when they get there!” Ultimately, this is a question about relationships, and you are at least half of deciding what kind of relationship you want to have with this part of your family. If you’re not finding gift-giving to be a meaningful part of your relationship, it’s OK to take a break from it. And if you’d like it to be more meaningful, make sure there are some substantive connections behind the gifts that go way beyond waiting for an acknowledgment. 

Be well, 


P.S. If you are on the receiving end of a gift either as the recipient yourself or the parent of the recipient, be a good person and send the text. All you have to say is thank you! But there is a bonus for sending pictures of cute kids opening or using the gifts!