Remember your manners, bust out the paper, pens, crayons, stickers, glitter and stamps and write (and send) your thank-you notes. It may sound old-fashioned in these times when your phone is smarter than your neighbor’s honor student and a colon and an end parenthesis expresses happiness, but saying thanks is always cool and never out-moded.
Emily Post and the ever-etiquette-conscious Post clan have some rather tough parameters for the sending of Christmas thank-you’s (before New Year’s!) but here are some thoughts on thank-you’s that take the pressure off, keep it organized and even fun:
- Make a list. If you haven’t done so already, make a list, for each recipient, who gave what to whom. Do this sooner rather than later, so we don’t forget that dear ol’ Aunt Sally gave little Suzy the Easy-Bake Oven. Don’t fret if you weren’t SuperMom on Christmas morning—I start the list with determination and then get distracted by ooh-ing and ah-ing at all the presents. Just do it as soon as possible, so you don’t forget.
- The relatives love the homemade touch. Let the kids’ get their doodle on by decorating the back of the envelope (not the front—we want to make sure the postal workers can still read it) or if they’re older, they can make and decorate their own cards. At the very least, if the child can string together the letters ‘L-O-V-E’ and their own name, they should sign it, too.
- Write them together. The best way to teach (and have any hope of having it stick) is by example. Get yourself some lovely note cards (if you feel too grown-up or pressed for time to make your own along with the kids—there’s no shame in not hand-crafting everything) and write your thank-you’s while the kids write theirs. If your children are too young for their own masterful penmanship, then have them dictate the letter to you—with a few meaningful prompts to keep it on point.
- Send them… in a timely fashion. There’s no law or statute of limitations on saying thank-you, but the ‘better late than never’ sentiment is a bit ridiculous when you send your Christmas thank-you’s in April. Six weeks, before January is over, or before it’s time to send out your Valentines are all a good rule of thumb. The exception to this, I feel, is when you’re writing thank-you’s for wedding presents and there are over fifty to write. The other is when you’re sending out thanks for baby shower gifts—obviously you’ve been busy with other things. So make sure that you’ve got your addresses current and that you’re well stocked with stamps. If you’re hard-pressed to get fancy stamps at the post office, just get the boring kind at the grocery store. Better sent than waiting for perfection.
Make it fun, make it timely, and keep it grateful.
photo credit: Old Letter by Simon Howden