Christmas is behind us, the new year is mercifully just ahead, and you may now find yourself wondering: Did my friend ever receive my gift or what? It was a thoughtful gift; you’re sure she’d like it, and she always thanks you, so it’s unusual that you haven’t heard from her yet. Should you ask if she received it? Would that be rude? Would it be awkward?
The answer to the above is maybe, possibly, and probably. There are times when a check-in is warranted, but there are also a few things to consider before you do.
Don’t be a pest
There are people in your life — you know who they are — who are constantly asking whether you got their card or package. In fact, they’ve just left the post office, they’re not even back in their car yet, and they’re wondering if it has arrived. Or they got a notification — right this second! — that it was delivered; did you get it?
This is annoying, but more importantly, it puts an unnecessary burden on the receiver to drop whatever they’re doing so they can check the front porch multiple times a day. By the time they actually receive your card, they don’t even really want it anymore. Don’t be that person. Give them a chance to receive it, open it, enjoy it, and thank you in their own time.
Consider your relationship
I would not hesitate to ask my brother whether something I sent for him or one of my nieces has arrived. He is busy working from home and raising three kids, so he probably just forgot to tell me — and he is not the type to be easily offended. However, I have spent several days internally debating whether to ask a woman who is running a weekly learning pod for my son and a few of his friends whether she actually received the gift card I emailed her. I am almost positive she would have texted me to thank me right away, and I suspect it went to her spam folder, but still, ugh.
The dynamics of your relationship with the gift-receiver can help guide you here. If you think someone could be more sensitive about being put on the spot, there might be someone else, such as a spouse or parent, who you can ask on the sly. But if you sent a bouquet of flowers to your best friend’s mum after her spouse died and you haven’t heard anything? Let that one go.
Consider the timing
Which brings me to another important consideration: timing. While it’s nice to be formally thanked for every gift, there are times in a person’s life when a thank you might be slower to get to you — or may never get to you at all. After the death of a loved one, for example, or right after the birth of a baby, or after a wedding or baby shower. You are likely one of many the couple have to thank.
Also, you might be totally fine with a quick thank-you text, but many people still like to send a handwritten note that they mail across town. Give the receiver time to thank you in their own way; and sometimes, depending on the extenuating circumstances, it’s better to assume they got it and let it go.
Blame it on the post office (or seller)
The post office is not exactly known for its timeliness right now. I, personally, spent the better part of December tracking two packages I’d sent to a family who lives a mere state away. One, naturally, arrived the day after Christmas, by which point I had become the annoying person I warned you about earlier.
But if you find yourself in a position where you think your gift should have already arrived, you’re pretty damn sure they would have acknowledged it, and you’re genuinely concerned it didn’t get to them, you can check in and blame it on the good old post office. “Everything I’ve sent out seems to be delayed this year,” you might say, “so I wanted to make sure my package arrived ok. I trust no one and nothing!”
If you ordered the gift directly from a store’s website, you can also “blame” it on the company. You don’t have to lie exactly, but I’d argue it’s ok to stretch the truth a tiny bit here to make the question less awkward.
“Hey, it looks like the item I sent you was on backorder, and I never got a confirmation email that it actually shipped,” you could say. “Let me know if it doesn’t arrive soon so I can start calling and harassing them!” That way, if they did receive it and just forgot to thank you, they can save face by excitedly texting you the next day that it just arrived, and that they love it.