...because we all have our motley moments!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Thank You, From the Bottom of my Chart

I used to be so good about writing thank you notes for anything and everything. If someone did something thoughtful or invited me over for coffee or gave me a gift, a handwritten note (in calligraphy, no less) was soon to follow.

Fast forward to Christmas 2009...I was so grateful to have received only a small handful of gifts this year. I thought, "Oh, thank goodness, I only have to write four thank you notes!" Never  mind the lovely dinners, cookie parties, and playdates surrounding Christmas...I just can't keep up with that level of handwritten appreciation anymore!

But now I have not only my own thank you notes to write, but the kids' thank you's as well! I took them to the dollar store and let them each pick their own pack of thank you cards, just to give them some ownership over the whole process. We made a chart for each kid with the gifts they received and the name of the giver, to be crossed off as the note is written. Our 6-year-old is painstakingly handwriting his own notes, and with his birthday just three days after Christmas, we let him combine both celebrations into one thank you note. He still isn't finished.

Last year, I made him draw a picture of each gift inside blank cards. When he finally finished all his artwork, I am so ashamed to admit that I completely lost his cards, his list of gifts and givers, and the envelopes (which I had already addressed). Those never got sent.

While KID 1 can just barely write his own thank you's this year, KID 2 can NOT, thank you very much. It is apparently my job to thank everyone for her gifts. I've tried having her "decorate" the cards herself in the past, but it becomes tedious for her and she finds something else to do before she's reached the second card.

I've heard of parents taking a picture of the kids with their gifts, but that just seems like extra work for me. Finding the gifts, taking the photo while berating the child in question to "smile like you really like your present!" and then actually having the photos printed and included in each appropriate envelope...I am SO not doing that.

How do you show friends and family appreciation for your kids' gifts? Any ideas for making the process a little easier?


Bryssy said...

Last year, I told most of my in-laws thank you in person and that I just had too much on my plate to write notes that year. They seemed fine with that.

This year, when I was printing address labels for our Christmas cards, I printed 2 for those people who normally give gifts. (I do the same at the time around birthdays). I get the cards ready before hand.

Then, since neither of my children can write, I have THE PRINCESS tell me what she likes about that specific toy and I take a picture of KOTJ with the item. And I do it the very next day or right when they open it.

We often take a trip to my in-laws and spend about 2 hours in the car, and that is when I write them. Short and sweet. Nothing fancy.

"Thank you for the [blank]. THE Princess says, [blank]. Thank you for thinking of her - we loved being with you over the holiday. Love, Brystal and THE Princess

That's as easy and I can do. But, I totally don't wait, I do it and get it over with.

Rachel said...

I am awful when it comes to thank you notes. It was nearly a year before we sent the TY's for our wedding gifts. Seriously.

I have little if anything to offer as advice, but I'm looking forward to reading everyone else's! One thing I will say is that the times I have been successful at TY writing, I have kept it really simple. Our wedding TY's took so long because I practically wrote a letter in each one, and that's just not necessary. I also just HAD to send them all at once, so the cards I finished were in a holding pattern until I had completed the task. I think maybe it's better to get them in the mail quickly, then the other cards will have more priority.

Great post, Donna, and let me just say for the record that a spoken "thank you" is perfectly sufficient for me--I don't watch the mailbox for handwritten notes!

Jennifer said...

This was the first year my oldest daughter was involved in thank you note writing since she is 2 1/2 years old. For her notes, I took a picture of her that I liked and turned it into one of those photo cards that some families send for Christmas, only mine said "Thank You" on it (from Seehere.com for free!).

On the back of the photo card I wrote a short note thanking the giver and made a short comment about something Charlotte liked about the gift. Then, I let her use her dot markers on the envelopes for that special 2 year old touch. She didn't even realize she was decorating Thank You envelopes and wasn't super involved in the thanking process, but will be more next year. I hope.

Lindsay said...

My family (my brothers, and parents) and I all sat down several years ago and decided that we would not send anything to each other in the mail, except for the occasional school picture. That an email would be fine, and even if that didn't get send no hard feelings. We don't send Christmas cards or anything. We just decided that we have enough stress in life and that would be one less thing we have to deal with. I also did this with Nick's side of the family.

I do make the girls write thank you notes to their friends for gifts, and they do call our family and tell them thank you, so they are learning to be thankful, just not in a handwritten way.

Avery can write the note totally by herself and I let her say whatever she wants. Sage just writes. "Thank you for the......" "Love, Sage". And she does 1 a day (we don't normally have more than 4-5 to write.

Donna said...

Wow! These are all great comments! Bryssy, you always impress me with your ability to get stuff done, considering you are one BUSY LADY!

Rachel, it sounds like you are just as pathetic as me...I cracked up when I read that your wedding thank yous took a year to send!

Jennifer, I love your idea of a picture card thank you. And FREE is my favorite amount to spend! Way to go getting those printed, written in, decorated, and sent!

Lindsay, we're pretty practical in our families as well. We just hand our thank you notes to each other in Paul's family. My family doesn't expect written thank yous, so when we send one, it's like a bonus! I love your advice of having the kids do just one thank you per day. Sounds much more "do-able" to a 6-year-old!

Thanks for the great tips and ideas! But don't expect a handwritten note. ;)

Karly said...

I am a stickler with my kids when it comes to thank you notes. Mostly because we live far away from all of our relatives. And my kids are SPOILED for their Christmas and their Birthdays. Writing thank you notes is a good habit for them to learn early in life. Plus it helps them clearly understand who gave them what gift and how many people have showered them with presents. Otherwise, it is all a blur to them. If they don't want to write a note, I just say, "That's fine, I'll just give this truck to a child who will be thankful to receive it." That is usually a very good motivator. Like Lindsay, I only make them do 1-2 notes a day to spread it out. My 6 year old writes out his own with Kindergarten spelling. My 1 and 3 year old draw a picture to finish the sentence--"Pumpkin is thankful for...".

In the end though, it is a lot of work for me. Making them do it, addressing, adding my own thank you notes, sometimes photos, going to post office, etc. Sometimes it takes a month or more to get them done. And I am ashamed to say, I have also lost them before, after all that work they never got sent. But the point is more the kids doing it. Our friends and family receiving them is a added bonus!

Ola said...

I never got that whole american business with Thank You cards. I mean, when I receive a gift I already show appreciation by saying Thank You in person, right? Also when you give a gift, you shouldn't expect anything in return, that's why it's called a gift. I don't think I'm not thankful - I do thank my grandparents when they give me a gift, I did send thank you/Christmas cards after our wedding but only to the American guests, I think the Czechs would think it's awkward or something.

Donna said...

I definitely agree about not expecting anything in return when you give a gift. It stresses me out just knowing that a few people actually do wait for the handwritten thank you for every little thing. I've gotten to the point of wishing those givers would just stop giving. It's not worth the stress!
Thanks for your comments, Ola!

Pam said...

I am horrible about writing notes - I have two that I HAVE to send out for some super great Christmas gifts. I really liked reading all of your ideas.