These days, asking a child to handwrite a letter is like asking them to change the tire on your car or take the trash out. It is met with protests the size of a catastrophic bomb. “Can’t I just text them?” “Do I have to?” “What for?” “Aww Mom!”
I find it interesting how children (and many adults) communicate these days. While often it is more frequent and full of “TMI” (Too Much Information), we lose the personal touch and authenticity to our voice. Even just picking up the phone is out. I see children text the person right next to them, “It’s easier” they say. Where did we go wrong?
But how can you compare a nice, thoughtful, handwritten note to an impersonal email? Not that all digitally created text is thoughtless, for sure. But when a friend or relative takes the time to do something special for you I am of the old school of charm that taking the time to write a note shows the genuineness of your appreciation and is so much more personal because you are truly giving a piece of yourself back to that person.
Herewith are some tips to show your children how to write a thoughtful and well-crafted thank you note:
First, if you are under 10 years of age or just an incredible artist, take a blank piece of paper and draw the front cover of your bi-fold card. It can be a drawing of the gift you received or something that reminds you of the gift-giver. If you are over 10 years of age your drawing may not be deemed as cute. So think about whether the recipient would appreciate your drawing or if a nice store bought card would be better.
Secondly, do everything by hand. Nothing should be digitally produced, copied, typewritten or from a printer. The exception is if you are not a good artist, a store bought card is totally acceptable.
Next, start the letter with “Dear Aunt Sally” or whoever it should be addressed to. It should NOT start out with “Hey there” or “Yo – Granny.”
The first paragraph should be a thoughtful few sentences letting the recipient know you love the gift they gave you or the thoughtful gesture they displayed. It should call out exactly and precisely what they provided to you. It cannot be generic or it loses all meaning. Don’t write, “Dear Aunt Sally, thank you so much for that thing you gave me, it’s great.” Aunt Sally will be thinking to herself – what thing?
After the first thank you paragraph, you can add a few more paragraphs that tell your recipient about other meaningful news you’d like to share that might make them laugh or think of you in a positive light. For instance you can tell them about your recent soccer match or what you did over the weekend with your family.
Sign the card with your first name only, to make it more personal. Adding your last name might be appropriate only if the recipient is not a dear friend and is more of an acquaintance.
Lastly, insert the card in the envelope and hand write the mailing address, again for a more personal touch. Don’t forget to include your return address as a formality. I’m grateful when I get a card with a return address to verify that I have their latest mailing information. If my letter is returned I can contact the intended recipient to see if they have a new mailing address.
It’s that simple and that personal. It’s an art form to create a lovely thank you card that will be remembered by the recipient. Hopefully your child will remember to thank you for teaching them this art form.
What are you tips for writing a thoughtful thank you note?