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Let a budding artist express thanks through pictures.
Let a budding artist express thanks through pictures. / Digital Vision / Getty Images

After the presents have been torn open and the gift cards have been spent, it will be time to write thank-you notes. But getting a child to bang out a slew of heartfelt cards in one afternoon can be daunting.

“The good thing is that kids are naturals at expressing themselves,” says Lulu Powers, entertaining expert and author of Food to Flowers. Powers shares strategies for turning a frustrating task into a life-long habit, for holidays gifts and beyond.

Say it in sprints. Whether your child is 5 or 15, recognize that writing all their cards at once can lead to thank-you fatigue. “Have your child write notes in batches,” Powers says. Set a time limit, like 10 minutes. Or ask kids to write as many notes as their age.

Make it fun. If your son loves to draw on your computer, let him create pictures instead of handwritten cards. “Giving them the freedom to express themselves will allow their imaginations to run wild, and [the sentiment] will be more genuine,” she says.

Allow for shortcuts. In the world of e-mail and texting, a handwritten note can feel like a surprisingly multi-step process. For kids who are learning to write, let them dictate the letter to you and sign their name, writing “transcribed by Mom” at the bottom, Powers suggests. For elementary school-age children, offer to address the envelopes. Even teenagers can use help. Perhaps you can split addressing and stamping duties.

Set a deadline. Ideally, notes should be sent out within a month. But “even if it’s a year later, it’s the thought that counts,” Powers says. “There is no expiration date on saying thank you.”

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