Let’s face it – getting presents is a high point of the holiday season for many kids. Children often go to bed so excited about the gifts they’ll receive Christmas morning that they can hardly sleep the night before, heads filled with visions of Playstation and Wii games or popular toys. The next morning, they wake up their sleepy parents incredibly early, begging to open their Christmas presents under the tree.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to include a box of thank-you notes among all those presents. No, that particular gift isn’t likely to thrill your children. But having thank-you notes on hand helps kids fulfill an important part of getting Christmas gifts – giving thanks to all the people who sent them.
When the excitement of Christmas day dies down, and parents get a second wind, writing thank-you notes can be a perfect way for kids to end the day (or maybe a few days later, depending on how tired everyone is).
According to research from Hallmark at (pressroom.hallmark.com/thank_you_notes_new_years.html ) parents want their children to learn basic manners and etiquette. Teaching children to express gratitude by writing thank-you notes is something a majority of parents feel is important.
But if the task of getting your child to write thank-you notes makes you wince, take heart . With these tips, it can be simple, even enjoyable:
1. Start by making sure you know who sent each Christmas gift. Even if children are too excited to keep a list, you can help out by writing one yourself as they open presents. With list in hand, you’re all set.
2. Create a special atmosphere for writing, perhaps with some special snacks and new pens and pencils along with holiday stationary. You can easily find special Christmas thank-you notes for children at Hallmark stores or online at www.hallmark.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/home%7c10001%7c10051%7c-1 Many other stores, whether located online or off, carry them.
3. Turn the event into a family activity, writing your own Christmas notes along with them, telling family stories and having fun. This could well be the start of an annual Christmas tradition.
4. If your child has trouble finding the right words, offer simple suggestions to help him get started, perhaps by providing that first sentence such as: “Thanks for sending me the (gift): A mention of the gift giver by name as well as something about the gift (color, title of book or type of toy) can be an easy way to fill in the blanks. Some children have no trouble writing creative letters or notes but for those who do, let them know that even basic ones are fine.
5. Don’t encourage or allow kids to lie. If a child hated a particular Christmas gift, simply have him say thanks and perhaps note that it was nice of the person to think of him. You’ll be teaching a valuable lesson in diplomacy and tact!
6. If you take a photo of the child with the gift, don’t let it substitute for a handwritten thank-you note. While a photo is a charming addition to a letter or note, it isn’t the same as the personal touch of your child’s handwriting, even if the writing isn’t perfect and the letters aren’t straight. In fact, that only adds to the charm and individuality.
7. Remind children that people feel good when they are appreciated. It is also a good idea to explain the practical reason for a thank-you note – to let the sender know a Christmas gift was actually received.
8. Avoid sending computerized notes, if possible. There are differing opinions about this but many people find them less personal and don’t have that handwritten touch.
Finally, once every envelope is sealed, stamped and sent off in the mail, give yourself a pat on the back. Learning how to write a thank-you note now may make a huge difference in your child’s life later. As adults, they’ll find plenty of other occasions when a thank-you note is expected or appreciated, perhaps after a critical job interview or a party. So why not start now on teaching them an important lifelong skill?