There’s something uniquely heartwarming about going to your mailbox and finding a cute, hand-written thank you card from a loved one. Some may consider it a relic of a pre-texting age — why mail something when you can send immediate gratitude message via phone? — but while a kind text is never a bad idea, we think this classic, quaint gesture does a great job of going the extra mile to show someone how much you appreciate them. We also think that kids thank you cards are an excellent way to help teach good manners and gratitude. But, where to begin...?
We’ve rounded up some adorable kid’s thank you notes for any occasion as well as some helpful expert advice to get you and your little one started on your journey of thankfulness!
When to send thank you cards
We spoke with Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and founder of The Swann School of Protocol, to understand the best way to get started, beginning with knowing when kids should start writing thank you notes.
“A good time for children to start writing thank you cards is before they’re even able to write! We want them to get the concept of showing gratitude in writing embedded into the children’s minds just as early as possible,” she explains, noting that children as young as 2 or 3 can take part in the practice of making thank you cards.
Of course, no one is expecting a toddler to hand-write an eloquent and heartfelt thank you card, but they can draw a picture for someone who has been extra kind or generous. “The idea is to teach them how to show gratitude when something or done something nice for them,” Swann says.
Occasions that could warrant a kids thank you card include any time they’re given a gift – birthdays, holidays, milestones like First Holy Communion or Bar/Bat Mitzvah – but you don’t have to wait for a present to be thankful. Maybe your child’s friend brought them to a theme park. That’s a perfect opportunity to send a kids thank you card.
However, Swann says the most important time for kids to send thank you cards is when the gift giver is far away. “Whenever the child is receiving gifts and the person is not there for the child to look them in the eye and say thank you, that most certainly that’s an instance that warrants a thank you card.”
What to include in a kids thank you card
It may be daunting to know what to say in a kids thank you card, but Swann assures us it really isn’t – and shouldn’t be – complicated. A proper kids thank you card could simply follow of this format
- Address the person being thanked
- Say thank you
- Name the gift
- Say something about the gift (what they like about the gift or how they will use it)
- End with a salutation and signature
See? Easy! Even for young writers. And getting into the habit of expressing gratitude in writing — or drawing — has a number of benefits. Not only do kids thank you cards help them with lifelong skills of communicating their thoughts in writing and showing gratitude, Swann says, but it helps kids think beyond themselves. “Writing thank you cards allows children to examine what someone else has done for them, and recognized the part that others play in society at a very early age,” she explains. “We’re just dropping that little hint of emotional intelligence into these children’s lives to help them really think about the fact that someone else did something for you: How does that make you feel?”
How to help your kid write a thank you note
Make writing a thank you note fun by creating a thank you note station, Swann suggests. Again, no need to get elaborate. Maybe it’s just a special container full of fun art supplies devoted to the act of creating a thank you card. It’s a way to make every thank you card a fun, creative endeavor. She also recommends letting them pick out whatever cards they use so that they feel more invested in the process. “That way you’re not just bringing home a pack of thank you cards and saying ‘Here: write this.’”
The most important thing of all, though, is engaging them in the process by discussing the reason they’re sending a card in the first place. Encourage them to think about the fact that a loved one went out of their way to do something special for them, so they should return the sentiment. “Help them understand that we want to make the gift giver feel really good by saying a big extra thank you in this way.”
Free, printable thank you cards for kids
In this marvelous age of the internet, there are lots of options for thank you cards, including free printable ones– just grab some card stock and have fun. We really like these color-in thank you cards, because having a fun art activity means making kids thank you cards doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Each also has space to write a personal message. If your child is very young, you can write the message for them but they can still feel proud in knowing they helped.
Personalized thank you cards for kids
Who doesn’t love personalized stationery? There’s something so satisfying about seeing your name on letterhead. We have no doubt your child will feel the same. These personalize thank you cards are great to just keep on hand so your child can send out a quick “thanks” whenever the occasion arises. If they’re anything like us (and, if there’s one thing we’ve learned as parents, our kids can be a lot like us... for better and for worse) knowing they’re in the house (and just for them) can even get them excited to get thanking.
Free printable thank you cards for kids to fill in
A good way to get kids in the practice of writing proper thank you cards is to start them off with an outline that they can fill in themselves. It helps them learn exactly what you should write in a thank you card. This is also good for young kids who maybe don’t have the best handle on writing and spelling just yet. No need to overwhelm them with something they still find difficult. These options give your child the opportunity to get the hang of thank you card structure by allowing them to fill in designated spaces.
Free, printable, fill-in thank you cards for kids.
Kids thank you cards for Christmas
There are few seasons that call for gratitude more than Christmas, so we love these holiday themed thank you cards to make the season merry, bright, and full of thankfulness. We’ve tried to offer a variety of options – fill in the blank along with free-form cards – that will allow your child to say “thanks for the presents” while still being super festive and thematically appropriate.
Kids thank you cards for birthdays
If a kids’ birthday party has a theme, we think a themed thank you card for birthdays is similarly appropriate. We love this festive assortment as a way to say “thanks for the gift/coming to my party/joining me as we ate our body weight in vanilla frosting and funfetti cupcakes.”
Thank you cards for graduation
Whether your child is graduating from high school or pre-school, thank you cards for graduation gifts (monetary or otherwise) are always a good idea. We found cute cap designs as well as designs that can incorporate a photo of your new graduate.
Hopefully this assortment of options can get you started on ways to engage your child and teach them that a little thank you card goes a long way.