With all the gifting happening at this time of year, there’s lots to be thankful for. Even without material gifts, this Christmas time is one that highlights the many good things we have to be grateful for. It’s also a great opportunity to teach our children the importance of saying thank you. So here goes – this Christmas season on HHM, it’s all about helping kids say thank you!
What to say:
Personally, I think that the best thank yous are those that not only truly express what the gift meant to the receiver but also highlight what the person who gave the gift means to them. Of course, this is not always appropriate and seldom is it easy! In fact, learning to express thanks from the heart is a process, which is why we have tried to train our kids from young ages to express thanks with the following things in mind:
- Address the person you are thanking appropriately. Sometimes this means thanking your friend in a jovial, fun way. Sometimes it means using the attributes “Mr.” or “Mrs.” If written, it always involves spelling the person’s name correctly out of respect. Of course, misspelled handwritten notes from little kids are exempt from this simply because we all love the effort that goes into the note, and those misspellings are often oh so cute!
- Tell her (or him) what you are thanking her for.
- Tell him (or her) why you are so appreciative of the gift and, if appropriate, what you appreciate about him as a person.
- Restate your thanks.
- Sign off with your name and a closing.
How to say it:
There are a multitude of ways to say thanks, but here are three that we’ve found to work well for our family of young to older children.
Write a note:
Traditionally, writing thank you notes was the expected polite way to express thanks for gifts received. I remember spending much of December 26th labouring over handwritten letters as a child. While it was painstaking, it did teach me a lot about expressing thanks in a heartfelt way. But, it doesn’t have to be painstaking to be heartfelt–especially with the technology we have available to us today. Emails, instant messages, and social media posts may perfectly acceptable. But there is something to be said about a handwritten note. Using beautiful stationery and practicing one’s best penmanship adds to the appreciation shown – and it’s a great excuse for sneaking in some handwriting practice!
Take a photo:
With very little kids, sometimes it’s appropriate to take a photo of the child with his gift accompanied by a few words of thanks written on his behalf. Showing the child enjoying his gift is a great way for the giver to feel appreciated. As the child gets older, s/he can become more involved in how the photo is to be taken and what words to include with the thank you note. For some years, we took photos of our children with their gifts as they opened them. Later that day we sent their thank you notes via instant message or email along with each child’s greetings.
Take a short video clip:
For birthdays this year, we’ve had our children express their thanks via a short video clip. We take the clips on our phones and send them via instant message to the giver. It’s been wildly popular with family and friends – it’s an instant thank you, yet heartfelt and from the child’s own lips which makes it all the more special. It even inspired a friend’s reluctant-to-do-thank-yous child to get down to his birthday thank you messages in the same vein. And we so loved receiving his video clip!
So, there we go – have fun this Christmas and enjoy all the ways you can say thank you!