Thank You. And You. And You!

Dear Annabel, 

 
This is a very everyday, un-Hollywood issue but my question is this: 
 
When one receives a gift from a friend who is the mom of a family, but the giver signs the gift from the whole family, what is the best way to address the thank-you? This happens a lot, I think. 
 
Say Jane Smith sent just the right thing and wrote a sweet card. But her first name is nowhere on it. Instead, it is signed “The Smith Clan” or some such nonsense. 
 
I really want to thank Jane, but do I have to write “Dear Jane, Joe, and children?” Or can I just thank Jane and assume no one else will be looking for my thanks since they probably didn’t even know she sent a gift?
 
Thanks for your help.
 
–Have a stack of thank-you’s to write
Dear Have a Stack…,
I’m reminded of the adorable handbook by Francesca Castagnoli titled Princess: You Know Who You Are (2003). On page 178, the author covers the delegation of tasks between two members of a heterosexual couple. Among other segmentations, she suggests:
You
Social director
Floral arranger
Nutrition planner
Fashion consultant
Card buyer
Him
Bartender
VCR setter
Trash taker-outer
Bug remover
Card signer
 
This all makes clear logistical sense, but remember: Darling Husband (or Darling Boyfriend) wants credit for sending that card, present, or thoughtful thank you note, too. He’s no fool — that’s why he chose you!
The same can be said of Joe Smith (who, let’s face it, probably has no idea a gift changed hands).
Your thank-you note should be addressed to everybody whose name is on the enclosed card, whether or not those people lifted a finger to send it to you.
In this instance I would begin, “Dear Jane, Joe, Jack and Jill,” since the gift ostensibly came from the whole Smith family.
If you wish, you can acknowledge the hardworking sender separately by including a sentence like this:
“Jane, I don’t know how you do it. Once again you’ve chosen the perfect gift!”
Thanks for writing!
Graciously yours,
ANNABEL MANNERS
Got an etiquette question? Send it to annabel@annabelmanners.com!
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