By Pam Molnar
According to the Emily Post Institute, “It’s never wrong to send a written thank you, and people always appreciate getting ‘thanks’ in writing.” However, when we sit down in front of a blank thank you card, we are often stumped for words. If we can’t come up with the words ourselves, imagine what it must be like as a child
A handwritten thank you is special because it shows you took the time to express your gratitude in a personal way. If writing is not your strong suit, there are several other ways to show your appreciation in a more casual, but just as sincere way.
1. Draw a picture.
This is great for the preschool crowd. After a family birthday party have the kids make a pile of pictures. The pictures could be of the people who sent the gift, the gift itself and just a nice scenery picture. Mom or Dad can write a little note on the back (either in the kids’ words or their own) and put it in the mail.
2. Pre-printed, fill in the blank thank you notes.
When the kids have friend parties, there often isn’t time to sit down and watch the birthday child open each gift. Create a fill-in-the-blank thank you card where your child can fill in with small words. For example: “Dear________. Thank you for ______________. I really enjoyed having you at my party and hope you had fun, too. Love, ____________.” Spell out the words they don’t know or delegate that part to their older siblings.
3. Printed photo picture with quick note on back.
This was something I did up for my then high school senior. I ordered picture cards of her in her cap and gown and added a pre-printed thank you on the front. She then handwrote a two-sentence note on the back of each card thanking them with a personal touch.
4. Express yourself
If you have a creative kid, let them share that as a way to say thanks. Do they play an instrument or sing? Let them send a recording of their music along with a quick verbal thank you message at the end. Do they write poetry, make jewelry or crafts? Encourage them use their talents to express their gratitude in a unique way.
5. Re-gift the generosity to someone else.
If they get a new bike from Uncle Dan, you can donate your old bike in his name. Suggest they use some of their birthday money from Aunt Jen to support a local food shelter and send her a picture of your child volunteering. This unique pay-it-forward thank you will definitely bring a smile to the gift giver¹s face.
6. Phone call.
Why not call someone up to say thanks? Like a handwritten note in the mailbox, a thank you call is more personal. Kids can work on their conversation skills after the initial thank you part of the conversation is over by inquiring about what the gift giver is doing today or who they think will win the game tonight.
7. Skype/Facetime while unwrapping.
My niece called me from California when she opened her birthday gifts and I got to see the joy on her face when she ripped off the paper. We spoke for a few minutes, she thanked me for the gift and then got back to her party. No follow up thank you needed.
Email thank yous don’t seem very personal, but they still work. You can make it more special by including a picture of you and your gift or the two of you together. You can also find a musical thank you ecard or video card to send along from a website.
9. Text Oh boy!
This seems like a lame thank you. However, for a generation that has grown up expressing themselves with emojis, this isn’t all bad. You might want to accompany the text with a picture of your child holding the gift. This simple interchange might be the building blocks of a stronger relationship down the road.
10. Say thank you in person.
Imagine how nice it would be to open the door to someone who just stopped by to say thank you. If you are not that spontaneous, reach out to the gift giver and schedule a visit for a time that works you both. In today’s busy world, reaching out in person lets them know how much you appreciate the gift and the person who sent it.
Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. She believes that a sincere thank you should follow every complement, kindness or gift.