I recently got married a few months ago and received a nice gift from an aunt and uncle. We sent them a thank you card. Unfortunately, we had the address wrong, and the card was returned to us in a mailbox my wife and I seldom check.

We would like to send them a new thank you card and apologize for the delay, however we're afraid that sticking the apology in the card may come across rudely, or leave them feeling unappreciated. In addition, we're seeing them in person this Thanksgiving, so we aren't sure if that's a better time to address this. Here's the idea of a card we might write:

Dear (aunt and uncle).

Thank you for the beautiful widget. blah blah blah (stuff about widget). Also, we are so sorry you're just now getting this card! We wrote the address wrong the first time, and it was returned to a mailbox we don't check. Thank you again so much, and we can't wait to see you for Thanksgiving!

(standard closing)

Lord and Lady Farquaad

The wording isn't the significant part here. Mainly, I'm wondering if addressing the apology in the card like this is the correct approach. My wife and I have also considered the following options:

  1. Omitting an apology in the card, and offering one when we see them in person.
  2. To omit the apology in the card and not send it. When we see them this week, explain what happened and give them the card in person to "make sure they got it this time," but this sort of defeats the purpose of a card...

What's our best course of action here to make sure my aunt and uncle don't feel spurned? The gift is pretty nice, so they certainly deserve to feel recognized.

  • @OldPadawan We did not. We have the contents of the card, but not the postage, if that's where you headed. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 20:57
  • @OldPadawan Yeah, we messed up there... I'm also guessing it would probably cause more harm than good if a question showed up on a different exchange in a minute titled "how to fake a returned card" Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 21:02
  • Do you live near your aunt and uncle, or farther away, and roughly how often do you see them in person?
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 21:11
  • @HDE226868 They're on the west coast, I'm on the east, so we're pretty far. We typically see eachother once a year or so for holidays. Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 21:13
  • @LordFarquaad Thank you! I think it looks good.
    – HDE 226868
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


Should you send it?

With a thank-you note, I've found that the value lies not just in the message but in the effort the sender put into it. It's easy for "Thank you" to be simply words; sending a nice card or well-written letter shows the recipient that your gratitude is genuine (if they doubted it at all). They've put effort into getting you a nice gift; you should ensure that you reciprocate in kind,

The fact that they live quite far away might be an extra impetus to send the card. I managed to forget to send a thank-you card to a relative for a birthday present earlier this year. They live about seven hours away, and I was going to hopefully see them two or three weeks after I remembered to send the card. I see this relative maybe three times a year. I could have waited three weeks and just thanked them then. But a letter in the mailbox means something special, I think. It's nice to know that a loved one is thinking about you even when you're far away.

In your situation, the would-be recipients might not get the card before you see them at Thanksgiving (depending on the local postal service, and their travel schedule). In this case, you should certainly talk to them at Thanksgiving, even though you've (hopefully) sent the card. But the point of sending a card at all - showing the effort, and that you're thinking of them - still remains, even though they'll get it later.

The point is, in this case, the message itself might not be as important as the symbolism of the card.

Now, I suppose you could actually make up the card and present it to them at Thanksgiving, with maybe a jocular comment along the lines of

We thought we'd give it to you in person, just to make sure it reaches you.

That's up to you, though. I don't think it's any better than simply sending the card by mail.

The card itself

Definitely keep the explanation - and probably the apology - in the card. I know I've said that it's the thought that really counts, but contents themselves also matter. An apology, even if it's duplicated at Thanksgiving, can't hurt. You obviously don't have to be overly effusive, but you still put it in.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.