Despite being older than Methuselah, I remember the agony of having to write “Thank You” letters to relatives I scarcely knew, thanking them for gifts I didn’t really like, after the festive season. (And after my birthday, too.)
But relatives – especially older ones – thrive on the little thank-you notes that kids send them in return for their kindness, and frankly, I can’t blame them. Particularly in the case of elderly grand and great-grand parents, who often aren’t on large incomes, buying for and sending gifts to little ones is an expensive and involving activity. A thank-you note in response is the least the kids can do to make them feel appreciated.
The great Thank-You note battle
Although some kids are pretty good and quite cheerfully write nice letters to people who have sent them gifts – however inappropriate – the majority, in my experience, wriggle and squirm in the days following Christmas whenever the subject of writing TY notes is raised.
I remember that one only too well. Just when you should be thinking about the New Year and extracting the most from whatever remaining school holidays I had, I was shackled down by my parents and made to write TY letters to these relatives and friends, some of whom I had never even met. Not fair!
But necessary all the same. How do we make it easier for them? I know they should really write out proper letters, original in thought and execution, but failing that here are a few hints that might make your kids’ TY letter writing a bit easier this year.
Buy – or make – some nice Thank You cards
There are plenty of ready-made “Thank You” cards available in most stationers and supermarkets, and there are some delightful handmade choices like these, available online. But if your kids are craft-orientated they could well enjoy the chance to make their own TY cards. Origination sources include cut-outs from Christmas cards, collages made from bits of Christmas wrapping paper, or – for the inspired – original art.
If one or more of your kids comes up with a good original design, scan it and reproduce it on card so that it can be used across the board. As you know, kids are more likely to take pride in their own work and so send it on with greater gravitas to the people they should be thanking.
Tell them they don’t have to write 100s of words
The whole point of the TY note is to acknowledge and express gratitude for the gift, not write a lengthy thesis about it. Although my late mother-in-law expected everyone to comment at length about the gifts she sent us and sneakily tested us with detailed questions to make sure we weren’t cheating, she – thankfully – was in the minority. Most people just appreciate a straight TY, with love.
Get them to release their artistic flair
There’s nothing that says a TY card or note just has to consist of words. It can be a drawing, painting or other work of art that your kids will enjoy putting together. As long as someone makes it clear to the recipient that this oeuvre is intended to express gratitude for their gift, everyone will be happy. For example…
1.Bake some cookies/biscuits (or make some homemade candy/sweets) as a family activity, and send a small box of the produce with a label saying Thank You
2.Earlier in the year, suggest the idea of making Thank You gifts to your children’s school, as this might be a useful project for them to work on pre-Holidays as an alternative to making Holiday decorations
3.Take a picture of your child using, holding, wearing, etc., each gift in question, print them out, then get your child to make and decorate cardboard frames for each one with the words “Thank You” on them
4.Immediately post winter (northern hemisphere) Holidays, buy a bunch of early daffodils or other spring flowers and get your kids to draw them. Scan the result (if there is more than one person to be thanked) OR take a picture of your kids with the flowers and print that out, then send as a TY gift, getting your kids to write “TY (message) – and here’s your first sight of Spring!”
5.Get your kids to compose a short poem of thanks, type it out nicely, print it out and send.
6.Make up a collage of photos of your family featuring foremost the child who is sending the TY, scan it and send with a short TY note.
7.Make some small papier maché trinket containers out of Christmas (or Birthday) wrapping paper and send those with a TY label (paint the containers over if required)
8.And for those bolshie boys … get them to write a few lines about their favourite game/sport/other heroes, and why the TY recipients should love them too. The recipients may not quite see the kids’ enthusiasm for them but will appreciate their sharing.
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