I am a big fan of the thank you note. I was brought up in family that expected them, and from the time our kids were little, we strongly “encouraged” thank you notes after every holiday and birthday gift. Even in this day of social media and quick texts, there’s something special about sending a sweet handwritten note that really shows someone you were thinking of them and appreciating their kindness.
Having fun note cards encourages thank you note writing even when they are teens
How do you get kids to do them without erasing all of that holiday cheer? Well, with all of our kids’ birthdays in the weeks around Christmas, I have found some tips and tricks to make thank you note writing a little less painful.
1) Buy some cute notes.
Our kids are much more likely to write the notes if I buy some cute note cards, and make them very handy (ie. hand them directly to the kids while they are sitting at the table). There’s something about a cute blank note card that is hard for even the kids to resist. Do I have some leftover free bird notes from 2001 from the Nature Conservancy I’d love to use up? Yes. Will the kids be as likely to finish the task if I ask them to grab these out of the cupboard? No. Visit Hobby Lobby and buy something fun, with your 40% off coupon of course. If your kids are crafty, making their own might be appealing. This was one too many obstacles for our jr note writers. You could even order them personalized notes from Shutterfly here.
2) Make note writing an expectation before other post-holiday activities. Try to do the notes within a few days of receiving the gift, so the excitement is still fresh. Often we go to the movies over break. The kids know that before we leave for the movies, ice-skating, or sledding, the notes need to be written. It’s surprising how quickly they can get to it when there’s a movie on the line, or Whitey’s, or whatever fun thing you already have planned. Is it bribery? Sort of. Does it work? Yes.
3) Give them a format, and suggestions if they need it.
For us it usually goes something like:
-Thank you for the XXXX
-I like it because XXXX
-I’m looking forward to doing XXXX with it
-I hope you had a nice holiday too
-Other random stuff about their lives (if writing to a close relative)
-Love, kid #1, #2, #3
3) When the kids were younger we often drew thank you pictures. A picture is worth 1000 words. Grandma and Grandpa are surely going to be just as grateful for an original piece of artwork showing the gift is being appreciated. There are also some fun templates out there that the kids can fill in easily, like this one shared on QC Moms Blog a few years ago.
4) Keep the kids in practice. We try to continue to write thank you notes of gratitude throughout the year so this tradition doesn’t come as a shock every December. If a neighbor is generous with a school fundraiser, or a teacher does something exceptionally kind, we will pull out the thank you notes and get to work. The more we do, the more it seems to be front of mind for the kids.
5) Follow through the entire process. Take the kids along to drop off the cards at friends’ houses or the Post Office, and talk with them about how long it takes the notes to get to their recipients via snail mail. Call Grandma and Grandpa or Aunt Susie so the kids can hear how happy the thank you note made them. Share with the kids any notes that your family receives so they can see how nice it feels to be appreciated.
6) For young kids, be sure to download our free printable – an easy template for them to color and fill out!
Even in the busy days following the holidays, it can be fun to take some time to show appreciation for the many blessings we receive from others. What a great way to start the New Year!