Tips for Writing Thank-You Notes
Two things are true throughout the known world. Kids love to get presents and hate to write thank-you notes. Convincing them to write often becomes a little easier when you remind them that someone took the time to find a gift, wrap or package it, and ship or deliver it. In return, all your child has to do is write a thoughtful note.
Before the gifts even arrive, have your children get paper, pen, and postage ready. And when they do sit down to write, have them start with the right frame of mind: Instill the idea of thanking the person for the thought as much as for the gift.
The sooner the better. A lull in activities on Christmas afternoon? Sit down and start writing! No more than a week should elapse from the receipt of the gift to the mailing of a note.
How young to start? As soon as children can appreciate the fact that someone has sent them a gift, they should participate in writing a thank-you note.
Before a child can write, a parent should put pen to paper on behalf of the child. Begin the note with, "Emily has asked me to write you," then continue with the child's sentiments about the gift.
Write something unique.
Starting with the words "thank you" is considered trite by some etiquette experts. Not sending a note is, however, a worse breach of etiquette.
So encourage your child to be creative, but don't discourage him from writing if all that comes from the pen is "Thank you for...."
What to say? Mention the gift.
Etiquette experts all agree that you should mention the gift. Sounds obvious, but many a clever child has scribbled a string of "Thank you for the lovely Christmas present" form letters, signed his or her name, and gotten through the task in record time. Someone took the time to choose and send the gift; encourage your child to consider that effort and to take the time to respond with appropriate consideration.
One excuse of thank-you note procrastinators is "I don't know what to say." Here's a list of questions to get started:
What do you like most about the gift? Is the color or design special or a favorite? "Green is my favorite color, so I especially like the gloves you sent."
Were you really hoping to get this item or was it a delightful surprise? "I was really hoping to get new in-line skates for Christmas, and I'm so glad to get them from you."
Will you be able to use the present right away or will you have to wait? "As soon as spring comes, I'll be on the court to use the tennis racquet you sent."
Does this gift start, add to, or complete a set of collectibles? "The Beanie Babies you chose complete my set!"
How will you use the gift? This is especially important for money gifts. "Your generous gift will help me get new software for my computer."
Make a connection with the sender.
Again, avoid stale or overused expressions. "How are you?" gets the job done but doesn't convey any personal thought. What does your child know of the gift giver's hobbies, travel plans, work, or home life? If Uncle Bob loves cars or Aunt Sue is planning a trip to Europe, encourage your child to mention those things in the note.
Thank-you notes are in order mostly when someone is unable to be with your family for the holiday. These faraway relatives and friends will enjoy a brief update on family and personal activities.
Every gift deserves a thank-you.
Even those gifts that miss the mark.
You may be wondering what in the world Aunt Bernice was thinking when she bought your child that sweater, but she still deserves to be thanked for taking the time to select and send something. It's an opportunity to teach tact. In these situations, your child should, of course, mention the gift; but putting the emphasis on the thought behind it erases the need to heap false praise on an item.