When I was a child, the day after Boxing Day meant only one thing. The thank you letter. A task so important it deserves a name of it’s own, so I’ll say it again, properly. The Thank you Letter.
I hated writing these letters. For a writer, to hate writing something, that’s saying a lot. I hated having to think back to a whole two days previously, when all my gifts were neatly wrapped and nestling under the tree. I hated trying to remember what was scrawled on each label as I excitedly ripped the paper away. I hated the fact that I could never ever remember who had got me what and why. But most of all, I hated having to write a letter to say thank you. It was SO repetitive:
“Dear Aunty So-and-so. Thank you for my hot water bottle cover. It was lovely. I had a lovely time. Blah blah blah.
Dear Uncle So-and-so. Thank you for my book of stamps. It was lovely. I had a lovely time. Blah blah blah.”
You get the idea. I hated writing Thank you Letters but we had to do it. It was an essential task, part of Christmas and one chore that we were never allowed to get away with. So, do your children write Thank you Letters? True to form, this is exactly what my own children will be doing today. But I want to make it a little more interesting for them. So, here are a few ideas to make the Thank you Letter less of a chore and more of an extension of creativity!
- Get organised: Before your child unwraps the gifts, take a note of and write down who they’re from, or keep the label and write down the name of the gift on the label. That way, writing the letters is a lot easier from the word go.
- Photographs take photos as your either write the whole note, or just sign their unwraps each present and get them to pose with it. Then simply write on the back of the photo a short note: “Thank you for my Superman costume, it’s awesome!” Depending on their age, they can either write the whole note, or just sign their name.
- Buy some pre-prepared notelets: this takes away some of the personal touch but they can be a cute way to say thank you.
- Send a postcard: Sometimes children can be put off by a large sheet of blank paper- use postcards instead so the task is less daunting.
- Use magnetic letters: arrange magnetic letters into the words Thank You and take a photo (you can use scrabble tiles too).On the back of the photo, you can write a short note. Alternatively, pop the letters into an envelope and let the recipient work it out!
- Use a chalkboard: write a note on a chalkboard and take a photo of your child standing next to it.
- Get baking: make Thank you cookies or cupcakes and take them round for a personal touch.
- Make a jigsaw: Buy some blank jigsaw puzzles (you can buy a pack of 6 from the £ shop) and write a quick thank you on there. Then scramble it up and pop into an envelope.
- Make a video: use your phone, or set up the whole movie set- either way, recording and sending a quick live Thank you message is a really easy and memorable alternative to the traditional letter.
- Make a phone call: Probably the easiest yet most easily forgotten way to say thank you, especially in the digital age of texting and emailing. Pick up the phone, say Thank you- job done.
- Send a text: okay, so less personal than a call, but perfect for busy people who never pick up!
- Make a visit: if you can, pop round to say Thank you personally.
There are many ways that you can get kids to say thank you, but at the end of the day, the writer in me would like to recommend the traditional Thank you Letter.
Sitting down with a pen and a piece of writing paper isn’t a common sight these days and the handwritten letter is something of a dying artform. If you can, encourage your child to sit and write a letter, using these quick top tips:
- For younger children, use a writing frame: write the main body of the letter and let your child fill in the gaps.
- For older children, show them an example that they can copy if they want to, or use to inspire their own letter.
- Let them choose their weapons. You might not want to write with a pink felt pen, but they might just enjoy letter writing if you let them.
- Choose fancy paper. Kids tend to like writing on paper that has some pizazz!
- Let them use stampers and stickers and illustrations to decorate the paper.
- Make it easy- it’s ok to just write Thank you and nothing else.
- Give them plenty of time. Don’t expect all the letters to be done in one day.
- Make it a fun day out! Count how many letters you need to write, talk about walking to the post box and what happens to the letters when you post them. Make this a learning opportunity!