If you just got engaged and celebrated with a party attended by your family and friends, you probably went home with at least a handful of gifts. Are you required to send thank-you notes for these presents? While it can feel daunting to dive in to note writing just weeks after accepting your significant other's proposal (especially when you're about to start tackling wedding planning in addition to an already packed schedule), it's not negotiable, says lifestyle and etiquette expert Elaine Swann. "Anytime someone gives you a gift, it's a good idea to say thank you in writing," stresses the author of Let Crazy Be Crazy. "Whether it's an engagement gift or a wedding gift or a bridal shower gift, it's a nice gesture to say thanks." Here, she spells out how to get those engagement gift thank-you notes out.
Stock up on supplies.
Before you even think about setting a budget or making a preliminary guest list, visit your favorite stationery store and purchase a set of blank cards (and stamps!). Having the necessary supplies on-hand ensures you'll be ready to write once those engagement gifts start trickling in.
Commit to organization.
As soon as you open that UPS package, make it a point to write down what you received and from whom. (Or enter it all into a Google Doc.) Having your must-write list in one place makes it easier to stay on top of things. Then devote a little time each week to sending your gratitude so that the task doesn't become overwhelming. Also be sure to refer to this list when you create a more formal registry, to avoid repeats.
Don't overthink your thanks.
It doesn't need to be a novel, says Swann. "A simple thank-you can be done in three steps," she notes. "Just address the card to the person, say thanks, name the gift, and then say something about the gift, maybe what you like about it or what you'll do with it. And that's it."
This story originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.