5 Reasons Thank You Notes Are Non-Negotiable In My Home

I am indeed that mom. The one that sends handwritten thank you notes for everything. If you’ve brought a meal to my home, a gift to my kids or celebrated my birthday then you know. No, I am not trying to make anyone else look bad. No, I do not have extra hours in my day. No, I am not judging you when you choose not to send thank you notes. I simply believe in thank you notes as passionately as just about anything else, and that probably says more about my own shortcomings than yours. But in the event you’re curious why I cannot let this go, here are the reasons that thank you notes are absolutely non-negotiable in my home.

Practice An Attitude of Gratitude

I think most of us want our children to have humble hearts and grateful souls, right? We recoil at the tantrums our kids throw when they hear the word “no,” especially when we bust our hineys on their behalf all day, every day. Nothing makes a mother cringe more than an ungrateful child who shoves their food away at the dinner table or demands candy in the Target checkout aisle. Heck, practicing gratitude is tough as an adult. That said, several people wiser than me have suggested that an attitude of gratitude is often cultivated with old-fashioned handwriting.

I’ve heard many times that the simple act of writing down 2-3 things to be grateful for each day will instill an attitude of gratitude in your soul at any age. To me, a thank you note is the equivalent. I honestly do not care if said gift came from my friend’s re-gifting stash (don’t lie – you have one, too) … the heart of the matter is that someone else took the time to celebrate an occasion, and I deeply believe that deserves an intentional pause and “thank you.” Honestly, even if they came empty handed, the point is that stopping to say “thank you” is something I believe is important to teach my children. I am sure there are a million ways to teach gratitude, but thank you notes are one and hence … absolutely non-negotiable in MY home. What you do in your home is totally cool (and I do mean that sincerely).

Who Doesn’t Love Snail Mail?

Don’t act like you’re too cool for the postman! Remember when you were little and you exchanged actual physical letters with your friends at sleepaway camp, Lisa Frank stickers and all? And when your grandparents used to send you postcards from their travels? How about when you received birthday cards in the mail? Don’t try to deny it; you know that snail mail is basically awesome. In a pile of bills, it’s a hidden “I love you.” In a stack of junk, it’s a reminder that what matters at the end of the day is authentic human connection. If you don’t believe me, I dare you to send THREE loved ones snail mail this week. For no reason at all. Practice on me if you want! (I’ll be the one squealing with joy when the postman comes – don’t mind me!) Yes, I know it is a pain in the butt to take kids to Rite Aid / Hallmark / Target sometimes but the effort will be worth it. I also know that you’re busy and overwhelmed and maybe you want to be the one to take something off another mother’s plate. I get it. I really do. But I am not budging on this one. Sorry, friends!

Because My Mother Said So {And My Grandmother, Too}

Because I said so is reason enough, yes? It’s what my mom said, and I assume hers … so we’re going with it.

The Giver Knows The Gift Arrived

This might be a somewhat lame reason, but tell me you haven’t mailed or shipped a gift and then wondered if it ever got there. Did Cousin Dana get my wedding gift? Oh gosh I hope so. Did Uncle Bob receive the gift card we mailed? Do I text him to confirm? Is that rude? How long is too long before I ask? Of course, I realize this is 100% alleviated if the recipient texts you or emails you or calls, but often times people forget to do that, too. Yes, I know if my child opens a gift in front of you that you saw it as well. That said, in addition to being a lovely surprise and an act of gratitude, a written thank you note actually serves the functional purpose of letting someone know that you received their gift.

Handwriting Doesn’t Get Easier With Age

How often are our children given the chance to write these days? As they get older, it’s not much. My 6 year old son admittedly went through an obsession with “making books” (aka handwriting on scrap paper and driving me bonkers trying to staple it all together) … but so much of our world is dependent on cell phones, iPads and computers. No one can tell me that sitting down and writing actual letters (for any reason) is a BAD thing. Also, I have a secret to share. Young children LOVE the idea of sending mail. This activity keeps them occupied for a very long time. We put a DVD in, sit at the kitchen counter and they “write” / color / put stickers on their work. We talk about which loved one gave them what item, and for my younger kids who need help I write something simple and let them color away. Even if they just sign their name (around age 4) or make 1 letter (age 3) or add stickers (age 2), the idea of sitting down with pen in hand is one that I don’t want my kids to feel is foreign. If they’re going to be coloring anyway, why not turn it into a thank you note? Then I don’t have to throw more “artwork” in the trash. Oh wait, did I admit that out loud?

Bonus Reason :: Pretty Paper and Pens

I love all things paper, so this is one way I can justify the expense! Want to fill your desk with pretty paper, pens and washi tape? Get thee to writing thank you notes! But I promise that even if you buy the paper and pens and never write a thing, I still support that, too.

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Ashley is the Co-Owner of New Orleans Mom, Red Stick Mom and Lafayette Mom, now the largest network of parenting websites in South Louisiana. Proud graduates of the University of Virginia, she and her husband Blaise spent time in Tampa and Scottsdale prior to settling down back home in New Orleans, something they both said "would never happen." An avid runner, she'll try any workout at least once and is always up for sweating with friends. When she’s not shuttling her 3 very active kids to school, gymnastics or baseball, you can find her cheering for the Saints, trying new restaurants or spending time with family and friends. She's also not afraid to return mediocre books to the library before finishing them because life is too short for bad books. A native New Orleanian, Ashley loves exploring and discovering the beauty of South Louisiana through her growing children's eyes.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I completely agree with you. As a kid, I was not allowed to play with, spend the money or use my gift until the thank you card was written. It definately made me a more appreciative person as I grew up.

  2. I agree too but have a hard time putting it in practice. I just sent out new baby thankyous and she is 8 months old! Ah! I need to get more timely about making it happen!

  3. Love this article! Our children are grown now, but we made it a point to get thank you notes written for any and every gift given to them! I still write thank you notes for gifts, favors, meals etc,! Demonstrating gratitude is always a good thing!

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