‘Tis the season to be thankful! I know what you’re thinking – we just did that in November. This is New Years resolution season! But stay with me here. Remember all of those gifts that your children recently lovingly (or perhaps ferociously) unwrapped? This is your friendly reminder that it’s time to say thank you to the gift bearers.
While your family’s traditions may not require thank you notes for each gift exchanged during the holidays, the Emily Post Institute reminds us that it’s never wrong to send a written thank you. People always appreciate knowing that their thoughtfulness and generosity did not go unnoticed. Besides, who doesn’t love getting fun and unexpected mail?
Boost Those Writing Skills
Beyond instilling in your children the importance of practicing gratitude and good manners, thank you notes have a lot to offer in terms of skills practice for kids of all ages. Consider the following strategies:
Ask your little ones to dictate their thank you messages to you (or video them) as you write their words down verbatim. It won’t be hard for the reader to tell whose words they really are! This technique produced some of the funniest, sweetest, and most heartfelt thank yous my kids have every “written.”
At this stage, children can practice writing their names by signing at the bottom of their thank yous. This is also a good age for fill-in-the-blank thank you notes, so children can practice writing short words without getting overwhelmed. As a bonus, have them recite their address to you when you put the return address on the envelope. It’s a great opportunity to reinforce memorization of that key safety information.
When your kids are ready to write more, have them start out with only one or two sentences per note. Gradually have them write more as they become more capable. Teach them where to put the date, salutation, closing, etc. Once their handwriting is adequately legible, they can learn how to address the envelopes themselves, too.
Although, I’ll admit, writing thank you notes does not top my children’s list of favorite holiday activities, we have found ways to make this task into a fun and creative one rather than a chore. In fact, they’re far more likely to get on board when they think of thank you notes as an arts and crafts activity than as writing practice. They’re even more likely to be enthusiastic when they think of thank you note writing time as a party.
Thank You Note Party Time!
Designate an afternoon during the slower weeks after Christmas to hold your family’s thank you note writing party. Break out the hot cocoa and leftover Christmas cookies. Put on some fun music, and fill your kitchen table with crafting supplies. It’s the perfect opportunity for a new family tradition.
If your creative juices need a little jump start, these have been some of our favorite supplies and ideas from Christmases (and birthdays, Valentine’s Days, etc.) past:
Bulk Cards and Envelopes
Sometimes my kids enjoy picking out their own set of thank you cards or personalized stationary. If that motivates them, wonderful! But for a more creative and cost-effective option, get a bulk package of colorful cards and envelopes to keep on hand. I love the paper bar from Paper Source, but there are also great options from Amazon and craft retailers like Michaels.
Holiday Cookie Cutters
Don’t put these away too early! They are the perfect size and shape for stencils! Whether your kids trace them directly onto their cards or trace them onto scrapbook paper or construction paper to cut out and glue to their cards, this is a great hack.
Stickers, Ribbon, and Washi Tape
Use a Christmas tree cookie cutter to trace and cut out trees to add to your cards. Kids can either wrap them in washi tape or ribbons before gluing them onto the card or decorate them with stickers and glitter glue.
Wrapping Paper Scraps
Save the scraps from your holiday wrapping to make festive collages on your cards. Wrapping paper also works well for envelope liners if you’re leveling up in the crafting department.
The possibilities with stamps are endless. Let your kids pick out their favorite stamps, either holiday themed or otherwise. Pro tip: if you use washable stamp pads, you can let your kids go to town without worrying about the mess. You can even get a fancy thank you stamp to make your cards look more official.
If you have paint lovers, let them paint the cards! This may be one instance where you want to decorate and let dry before writing the messages, though. Alternatively, you can use those cookie cutters to cut out shapes from some of your kids’ old artwork you may have lying around the house. The cards below were all made from repurposed kid paintings.
Good Old-Fashioned Crayons, Markers, Colored Pencils, Gel Pens, and Glitter Glue (or actual glitter if you’re braver than I am)
There’s no need to complicate things if your energy is zapped. Just set out the supplies and let your kids draw and decorate their cards however they’d like, even if it’s just a perfect toddler scribble.
Finally, once the cards are written and decorated, don’t forget that you can embellish the envelopes, too. Then, let your kids add the postage stamps and walk them out to the mailbox. For my kids, there is always something rewarding about sending the cards on their way themselves.
So grab your kids, your art supplies, and the cookies (don’t forget the cookies!), and get your party on. It’s time to say thank you!