AFTER the last of the Christmas presents have been unwrapped and all the cards have been opened, you may be wise to spare some time for thank you letters if you want to avoid being given a cheaper gift next year.

New research by Royal Mail has revealed the true cost of not saying thank you for Christmas presents. Of those people expecting thank you letters, over half (52 per cent) say they would reduce the cost of their gift by up to £10 next year if they did not receive a thank you letter.

A further 10 per cent said they would cut their budget from £25 to £21 if they were not thanked properly in writing.

The survey also found that 20 per cent would be so offended that they would not bother buying their loved one a gift again.

Almost three quarters (73 per cent) of those surveyed said it was important for children to say thanks via a note, while over half of adults (53 per cent) think thank you letters are important too.

Royal Mail has now teamed up with Debretts, the authority on social etiquette, to advise the nation on when to send thank you letters.

Jo Bryant, etiquette advisor at Debretts, said: "In our digital age, a handwritten letter is always appreciated so, when it comes to saying thank you for Christmas presents, always put pen to paper.

"Letters of thanks should be sent promptly, preferably within a week to ten days of receipt of a present, so should arrive by the first few days of January.

"It is appropriate for parents to respond on behalf of their offspring before the child is able to write. The child should, however, write their own thank-you letters as soon as they can."