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Outta my Sunday mornin' mind….
UltimateMama feels that thank you notes are mandatory when your child does not open a gift in front of the gift giver.  Moreover, UltimateMama helps her children compose and send thank you notes many times when they do open a gift in front of the gift giver.
Every year UltimateMama spends a lot of money on children's gifts. UltimateMama and her children only receive proper thank yous from the recipients of approximately 50% of these gifts.  Not only does UltimateMama feel bad about it but her children do too (especially when they helped select the gift). 
Many folks ask UltimateMama if the official thank you must be in the form of a note or letter that is mailed. Ideally, yes. Practical, maybe not.  A quick phone call or email to have your child say 'thank you" is better than nothing at all!
Teach your children etiquette early on!  A child who sends thank you notes will grow up to be an adult who does the same.

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