By: Sheila Gaudet
I’m writing this in the lingering “leftover hangover” of the holidays, thinking that I should be at the store making a few exchanges and cleaning up some Christmas mess. Honestly though, my kids are off visiting their fathers and my house is quiet so I’m drinking coffee in my pajamas instead. We have a brief lull between Christmas and birthdays in my house – both boys and I all have January birthdays (as do all but one of my nieces and nephews as well!)
This means that there are many gifts arriving from family and friends throughout December and January. One of the topics that’s come up recently is the topic of thank you notes. Generally, I’ve always expected my children to write “Thank You” notes. Many people think it’s not necessary, particularly if you see the person who gave you the gift and you thank them in person. I think each family has their own customs, but because we’ve lived so far from our extended family, we rarely have the opportunity to share gifts in person.
When do you start? I started both of my boys when they could write their names. I love the pre-printed thank you cards that are of the “fill in the blank” variety for younger kids. You can fill in the name of the person and the gifts and the child can sign their name, add a picture, etc. As they get older, it’s a great opportunity to practice writing skills and most family members are willing to overlook the spelling errors that come with them. We do them in groups, a few at a time, so it is not overwhelming. I think the idea of writing letters to family members is even more important as the kids get older and turn into teenagers. It’s a way for them to connect with family members or friends, learn to put together a brief note, and the importance of appreciating the effort people go to to remember you.
Our “Thank You” notes follow a general pattern of a greeting, a little small talk (if the kids are older), thanking the person for the specific gift and telling them how they will use it or what they like about it. Throw in a closing and you’re done! To make it more fun for the kids, they each have their own stationary/notecards. Some years it has their name on it, other times it’s a design they’ve picked out, but we make it something that reflects them. They get to choose the writing implement, as long as it’s visible to an adult eye.
I do not get upset when I don’t get “Thank You” notes from other people or children, but I decided long ago that I wanted my children to have the practice. I hope they continue the tradition as they become adults, because I think people appreciate being appreciated!
Some sites for affordable “Thank You” notes for kids: