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About Nicole

Nicole lives near the beach in Southern California with her husband and three young kiddos. She writes a lifestyle blog called Gidget Goes Home, and is currently working on her first ebook, a simple guide to learning the basics of sewing.

thank-you card

The long-lost art of thank-you cards (and a DIY idea)

In an increasingly digital era, it’s darn special to get real mail, isn’t? Not bills, junk mail, or magazines you never even subscribed to (why couldn’t it have been a good magazine?), but real, honest-to-goodness, heartfelt mail.

My favorite kind of mail to receive? Thank-you notes.

A family legacy

I blame my mom. She raised me with an intense sense of it being a non-negotiable. As a kid, of course, I hated it. But, like many things that we loathe during childhood, I now see a huge value in it being ingrained in my mind and my heart as normal, just something you do. (Thanks, Mom!)

It seems like this is one of those things that really tends to run in the family. When I casually polled my friends on Facebook, it seems like most of those who regularly write them grew up in a family that made it a priority.

But not always. I love how my friend Julia put it: “I didn’t grow up doing it. I learned as an adult and I try my hardest to send them for as many things as possible. I like people to know how much I appreciate their kindness/gift/time.”

Sending a thank you card is really a wonderful way to bless someone after they’ve given or done something thoughtful for you– and it’s something I want to teach my kids to do, too.

Ann Voskamp recently posted a list of fifteen ways to grateful, joyfilled kids and wouldn’t you know–number three on her list was “Leave out a basket of thank-you notes, an invitation to always give thanks to someone.”

What does etiquette say?

I’m not sure etiquette really matters to the general public anymore, but according to Emily Post, “It’s never wrong to send a thank-you note.”

Grace at Design*Sponge sums up the modern etiquette on thank-you cards like this: “Just say thank you. The person receiving the thanks will just be happy to hear it, the mode and message are rarely as important as the simple act of acknowledging someone’s kindness.”

What to write

I read in a Dear Abby column once that the main reason people don’t send thank-you notes is not lack of time or motivation but rather, not knowing what to say.

Here’s what I tell my daughter, now that she’s starting to write her own. After the greeting, I have her say thanks for the gift, then say something about it (how does she like it? how has she used it? what’s her favorite part about it?), and finally something about the person (I love you!, Hope to see you soon!, etc.). Then she signs it.

It might sound elementary, but even an adult could start with this basic format. If you feel so inclined, expand it from there.

My personal goal

I may love thank-you notes, but I am also a habitual procrastinator—I’m an ENFP, and while we may be known for our ideas and vision, we are not generally known for following through with things promptly.

My birthday was a month and half ago and I’ve had thank-you notes on my to-do list every week since then. I leave them on there because it’s something I really want to do despite the fact that daily life has tended to creep up and push it out of sight and out of mind.

But timeliness is important in really showing the person you care. I’m going to make it an official goal to write thank you notes within a week of receiving a gift or having an experience for which I want to express gratitude to someone.

Easy DIY photo thank-you card {perfect for kids!}

Goodness, there is some gorgeous stationary out there. Just do a search on Etsy or step into a Paper Source store and you’ll be served up eye candy galore.

But gorgeous stationary can be pricey, and while you can easily pick up a box of cheap cards at Target or fold your own paper cards, here is a cheap way to create something that your recipient will love look at and read (and you might see it gracing their fridge for months to come).

photo thank you cards

Simply take a photo of your your child, add a simple thank-you text on the photo and order prints for mere cents per piece to pick up at your local photo counter.

Scribble a note of thanks on the back with a permanent felt-tipped marker (won’t imprint through like ball-point or smear), and pop in an envelope. Done!

A few ideas:

  • use a photo of your family or your child on their birthday, or wearing/playing with/holding a gift they received
  • use PicMonkey.com for a free, easy way to put text on photos, or better yet…
  • make the whole thing right from your smart phone: snap the photo, edit it with a program like Phonto or A Beautiful Mess, upload it to a photo-printing app (your local drugstore might even have this option!) to be mailed to you or picked up

Just for fun: check out these eleven amazing thank-you notes from famous people– Audrey Hepburn’s is my favorite on the list.

Do you generally write thank-you notes? Why (and what for) or why not? Do you have a personal goal for expressing thanks more regularly?

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