Are thank you notes a thing of the past, gone the way of rotary phones? I hope not. I love to get a handwritten note that tells me how much someone has enjoyed the gift I have sent them. A text is nice, and sufficient to let someone know you received something, but the handwritten note has a grace that a text cannot emulate.

My daughters make me very proud with their dedication to thanking people. I like to think I instilled this in them through my actions and a few simple rules.

  • No toy is played with, no check is cashed and no cash gifts are used until a thank you note is written, addressed and stamped. This enforces timely thank you notes and keeps the excitement of the gift as motivation.

  • Make the task age appropriate. If your child is not yet school-aged, you can talk about how they should say thank you. Let them tell you the words to write, and then let them add artwork to personalize it.

  • Gradually let your children do more each year. When they can write their name but not much else, you can write what they tell you, and they can sign it. As they learn to write, you should let them write the words, but you can help them with composition. Guide them with a simple thank you note structure when they are young:

Dear (Person who gifted them),

Thank you for the (item). I will enjoy (using, playing with, wearing) it.

Thank you,


(Child’s Name)

  • As they get older, you can encourage them to add more details. They can enquire about the well being of the person they are writing. They can add an anecdote from the last time they saw the gift giver. As they near the end of high school, your children should be able to write a simple 4-6 sentence thank you note. It is also charming to write a thank you note when someone does a kind act or gives you a place to stay while traveling.

I have found that my years of writing thank you notes have increased the depth of the relationship with people whom I have sent to. Being a thank you note sender marks you as a kind and considerate person.