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Monday Mom challenge: Make thank you notes fun for kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Make fun out of a chore

It's the rare child who likes writing thank you notes after a birthday or holiday or other gift giving occasion. They are necessary, of course- though often I will even admit they are more fun to receive than to write. As adults we recognize that the sooner we get them done the better; kids often just see it as something interferring with their enjoyment of a new toy.

Little girl making thank you notes

I'm one of those hardcore moms who insist on the writing of thank you notes the day after a gift-giving occasion. Not the day of, not two days or more later - the day after. My kids, at this point, expect it - but they still groan every time I get out the supplies. Still, within twenty or thirty minutes, we're done and the kids are back to playing with their new gifts. The kids might even admit that the experience "wasn't so bad." Maybe.

Before you begin

Before you or your kids even begin writing thank you notes, you have to know whom you are thanking for what. Careful listing of gifts and givers is part of every gift-giving occasion, and it's usually my job. After a big holiday, a spend a few minutes making a list for each child: the gift, who gave it - and the giver's home address. This way there is no, "Who gave me the kite?" questions when we set to our task.

Colorful supplies

To make thank you note writing a little more fun, I keep a shoe box of colorful note writing supplies. At a local paper and craft store, I get mix and match cards and envelopes in a variety of colors. One of my kids will do all his thank you notes on the same color cards, but my daughter likes to mix and match. "Pink for Grandma," she'll declare, or, "Auntie Jane likes yellow."

I also keep fine tipped colored pens in this box, and a small selection of small stickers to decorate the notes. Thank you notes can become as much an art project as an etiquette task.

Help younger children

Young children have a more difficult time writing many notes. I often helped my kids when they were younger with their notes by either writing the note for them with their input (and transcribing verbatim!), or having the child write part of the note while I fill in the rest.

Make an event of mailing

With so much done by Internet these days, visiting a post office to get real stamps can be a novelty. When thank you notes are all done, we go to the local post office together to pick out fun stamps. Often each child has chosen different stamps for their notes - and it's interesting to see how personalities emerge even in this small way.

Thank you notes can be something of a chore, yes - but they can also be a little fun. Getting kids in the thank you note groove now is a great way to start a good habit for life!

More on teaching kids manners:

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