The Art {and Torture} of the Thank You Card

The Art {and Torture} of the Thank You Card | Houston Moms BlogEveryone wants to feel appreciated—even for the little things. That’s why we write thank you cards. A thank you card tells someone that you noticed and value something they’ve done. Not everyone believes in sending a thank you card anymore, but I still do.

When my kids were toddlers, I would write the thank you cards for them. Then they would scribble something on it to make it their own. Afterwards I would let them put stickers on the envelopes themselves, encouraging them to do whatever they could at their age. When they learned how to write their names, they signed each of the cards I wrote. It wasn’t easy asking a preschooler to sit still and complete a dozen or so cards, but we managed. I feel like it’s important to teach even young kids to express gratitude.

My two older ones are now in elementary school and the task has shifted to them, which actually poses to be a problem. 

The Stages

Here’s a glimpse into what happens after a birthday party when we have thrown out all the balled up wrapping paper and taken down the last of the decorations ::

Optimism :: Freshly sharpened pencils and blank thank you cards—yippee! We are motivated!

Annoyance :: What do you mean you don’t know what to say? It’s a thank you card. Good grief, you’re dumb. {I don’t say that last part. That’s just mean. I only think it.}

Disgust :: What is this?? I can’t read this handwriting!! What language is this even in??

Despair :: I’ve been gone 15 minutes and you’re on the same card?! Nooooooo! We still have 16 more to go…

Apathy :: I don’t care that it’s spelled wrong. DO NOT ERASE. Just keep going. I beg you, just keep going.

Hopeful :: What? You’ve finished half of them? It’s been two weeks since we started but this is good, this is good!

Celebratory :: You’re done?! Hooray!

Hesitation :: Address and mail? Or hand to people? I’m sure I can find addresses. I don’t want to find addresses. I see these people all the time! I’ll just give it to them when I see them.

Utter Despair :: I. Just. Want. These. Gone. How much longer will these cards sit in my purse?? Why won’t this end?? 

Elation :: I have handed the last card out!

Defeat :: Oh no, another one of their birthdays is coming up… {Cue stooped shoulders, head hung low, softly sobbing.}

Evolution of the Thank You Card :: Modern Options

Right now my daughter is working on her written thank you cards. She is much better at this than my son, but due to her need to fill up all the white space with “decorations” {see Despair stage above} I’ve been thinking about using one of these new options instead ::

1. Emails— The first time I skipped the thank you cards, I sent emails. I took a photo of my child holding the gift and then attached it to a personalized email. I still spent a fair amount of time on the task, but without the kid factor, it was definitely less exasperating.

2. Videos— For gifts that we receive in the mail, I often make a quick video and text it to the sender. The video typically shows my child opening the gift and saying at least a few words of thanks. It’s quick and gets the job done. Besides, if someone mails a gift, it means that we don’t get to see these friends and family much. Therefore, in addition to sending our thanks, the video also lets them catch a glimpse of the little rascals.

3. Text Messages—Lately I’ve been getting thank you text messages after a birthday party. The text is usually a picture of a child holding the gift and a short message of thanks. These are fun to get but after I show it to my screen-obsessed kids, it’s always a struggle trying to get my phone back from them. 

4. Evite/Punchbowl/Etc.—I love using electronic invitations. It’s easy to set up and it keeps RSVPs organized. In addition, it even includes an option to send out a mass thank you email after the party has concluded. I haven’t used the function before but it seems quick and easy, though somewhat generic. 

5. Personalized Stationery—Places like Tiny Prints are great for customized cards. Recently we received a cute thank you card with a friend’s photo printed on it. In particular, this design included pre-printed sentences with some fill-in-the-blank lines where a child can add a few words about the gift. There was minimal writing required and yet still felt personal.

6. Outsourcing– I just learned about Ink Cards and Punk Post. With Ink Cards, you can use an app to choose a card design, add a photo, and personalize with a message. Then the company stamps and sends the card to your intended recipient. Punk Post takes it a step further and uses handwriting artists to hand draw/write your card with your input. When they’re done, they put it in the mail for you. Whoa, I know. It starts at $6 though. 

I don’t know how I feel about all these alternative options that seem not to require any effort from my kids. In addition, written correspondence is becoming a lost art, and I don’t want to take part in its demise. Maybe I just need to change with the times for everyone’s sanity. If anyone has any more good ideas, send them my way! I’ll send you a thank you card for your trouble.

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Vicky grew up in Miami, graduated from Boston University, and moved to New York City to work in advertising. She and her husband then had a marvelous adventure abroad, which included the birth of their older son. After almost four years in Beijing, they headed to her husband's hometown of Houston. Their daughter made her debut a few months later and their younger son joined the ranks several years after that. Vicky loves family life and all the adventures, laughs, and lessons that come with it. Though busy raising three kids, she tries to sneak time to tend to her tiny urban garden and come up with ideas to continually make her home a haven. Vicky has been slightly obsessed with raising monarch butterflies in recent years. She’s a writer and communications consultant who dreams of days where she can simply sit by the pool reading a book and drinking lemonade.


  1. I also believe that written thank you cards is better. People spent time and money in picking out a present and putting an effort in writing a thank you card is letting them know that those are appreciated. And I totally agree, it is hard to make the kids write them in the midst of homework and after school activities…Thank you for this post. It is good to know that there are still others who believe that a gift received deserves more than a text message.


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