Like my friend Andrea, my husband has always been the ‘Thank You note enforcer’ in the house. Over time, I have come to really appreciate his effort with our kids. Good manners are important. So is gratitude. 

And hopefully the habit of writing a personal note – in an age of quick texts and “likes” – is one that will stick until my children are grown.

“It’s important to be gracious,” Andrea said. “It makes people feel respected and special when you are gracious, and that can only be good. It is so vital that kids know this.”

In addition to demonstrating good manners, Sarah also notes another benefit.

“Someday they will need the skill for college and job interviews,” she said.

Mom Marina said that when her daughter was too young to write, she instead drew a picture.

“As she got older, she would put her name and a picture,” Marina says. “Now, at the ripe old age of nine, she writes the cards herself. I give her a list of names, the gift, and guide her on verbiage. The note must include something about how she will enjoy the gift. I still address, stamp and edit, but I’m so glad she has learned this important lesson about gratitude.”

That’s pretty much our drill too. My husband will still line the cards to make writing easier. He used to have to offer more guidance on content, but over time both my son and daughter have gotten the swing of things – even if some of the things that they say are pretty silly. They are from the heart though and that’s the point. 

My friend Barbie says that because she started her girls so young, they now at 13 and 15 can whip out a birthday or thank you card with ease. 

“The structure of a thank you card is simple,” Barbie said. “Acknowledging the gift, how you will put it to use or have used it, and gratitude for the gift giver with a warm sentiment of appreciation.”

Angela notes that in addition to expressing gratitude, note writing also encourages contemplation from the gift’s recipient. 

“Opening gifts can be so rushed,” she said. “This makes the recipient take a few moments to focus on each piece of thoughtfulness that was bestowed upon us.”

As far as stationary goes, options run the gamut. My mom and mother in law have gifted us all with personalized stationery from American Stationary over the years. Sarah got hers at the Stationary Studio.

Kaysi says that the stationary she first got for her kids matched their birth announcements. 

“They have had some sort of personalized stationery ever since,” she said.

It is possible that a stylish card may inspire some kids to greatness, but you don’t need the fancy stuff to get going. Angela has used homemade or blank dollar store cards. Andrea will use whatever blank note cards they have around, with sporadic orders from Etsy. 

It can be hard for kids to understand why note writing is necessary – and they may grumble a little at first – but just stick with it. You’ll be glad you did.

My friend Jennifer is an adult now but remembers what a chore she thought it was to write the obligatory note as a child. 

“I realized by my teenage years how much I liked getting mail, especially thank you notes,” she said. “Thank you notes for me are essential. I expect a thank you note. I just think it is polite and means so much to the recipient.”