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Your British hosts expect a thank you letter or note
The art of writing has almost been lost in France and very few people will write to thank someone after a dinner. In most cases would pick up the phone or send an email to say how much they enjoyed being conveyed to a dinner, invited to a party or being a guest for weekend in the country.
However, in England, things are very different. During this new digital age, people are still expecting to receive a hand written thank you note and as a general rule this note should be sent out within a week to ten days of an event or receipt of a present or even more promptly if possible.
Thank Yous for Presents
Thank you letters are most definitely necessary for presents given for Christmas, christenings, weddings, birthdays and anniversaries. Make sure you mention the present directly and details to personalise the tone of the letter are also strongly advised.
Children's Thank Yous
If your children are not yet able to write then you are expected to write on their behalf. However, as soon as your child can write then he or she should write his/her own. You should encourage them to refer specifically to the present in the letter, and make a detailed comment about it ('Thank you for the doll you gave me for my birthday. I have named her Suzy'). Also think of telling your child to expend a little by saying something about his/her life such as: “Mummy and Daddy are taking me to the zoo with my friend Lara for my birthday”.
Thank Yous After an Event
When thanking someone after an event, the form of the invitation (formal or not) indicates the appropriate format of a thank you. Engraved invitation cards require a formal thank you letter. An At Home card suggests a short letter or note.
Traditionally addressed to the hostess, nowadays letters can be addressed to either the host, hostess or couple as appropriate.
A verbal, telephone or email invitation needs only a telephone call of thanks after the event; telephone and email are interchangeable if all parties use both frequently.
Other Thank yous
Thank you letters should also be sent after being a guest in someone else's home - for example after staying for a weekend or Christmas.
Support during a key event or task – bereavement, wedding, reference for a job - should also be acknowledged with a brief letter of thanks.
Nowadays, however, emails are generally acceptable for brief and informal thank yous.