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Ask the Thank You Diva:
How to word a kids' thank you note for presents they don't like (without lying)

Rosie asks the Thank You Diva for help with writing her children's thank you note to an aunt whose presents they dislike. How to word the note without lying?

Question:

Dear Thank You Diva,

I have an aunt who always sends Christmas gifts for my kids, and I do appreciate that. But the gifts she picks are never things that my son and daughter like (although they are always 'nice' expensive items).This year my daughter received a porcelain doll that she finds so creepy that she won't have it in her bedroom (she's 6). My son received a 3D puzzle of a planet that is so difficult and frustrating to make that it's really something for adults (it says age 14+ on the box - he's 8). Both children are definitely not feeling gratitude for their gifts right now, and both things are headed to the back of a cupboard.

So now they need to write thank you notes, but no surprise that they don't want to. My aunt is a real stickler for these things, and she'll be on the phone interrogating me if we don't get the notes sent this week.

Can you help us word the notes to say thank you without saying that we love the presents? (I don't want to encourage my kids to lie). It will be a big relief for me if you can help.

Thank you in advance,
Cynthia

The Thank You Diva responds:

Dear Rosie,

Ah, the agony of writing thank you notes for gifts that we dislike! And it's particularly difficult when the gifts are for children. While I can completely understand their reluctance to write thank you notes for these gifts, as you say, your aunt made the effort to send them, and that needs to be appreciated and acknowledged.

First of all, explain to your children that although they don't like the gifts, it is important to appreciate the fact that your aunt sent them. They're not likely to be impressed at their ages, but think of it as sowing the seeds of gratitude for when they're older!

Regarding writing the actual note - I think that given the circumstances it should be just that: a joint note from both children. You seem to assume that two individual notes are required, but I really don't think that's necessary. In addition, your children are still young and can hardly be expected to write a long or elaborate note, so use this to your advantage too. Perhaps write THANK YOU in big block letters and get them to color it in? Or would they be happy to draw a picture of how you spent Christmas? You'll find lots more ideas for creative thank yous here.

Having said that, it sounds like you are keen to avoid offending or antagonizing your aunt in any way, so if you think that a note is definitely required then I would suggest something along these lines:

Dear Aunt Joan,

Thank you very much for sending us Christmas presents. The porcelain doll is very special and different from all my other dolls. The puzzle is really hard, but I'm sure I'll be able to solve it eventually!

We hope you had a great Christmas.

Love from
Milly and Jake

I think this conveys gratitude for the presents without actually lying. However, you may feel called to add an injection of truth, particularly in your son's case, by writing something like:

The puzzle is really hard, but I'm sure I shall enjoy it when I'm older.

See here for more tips and wordings for writing thank you notes for gifts you don't like.

Whatever you do, don't agonize over this note, or put it off. Get it written and sent, then consign the offending presents to the back of the cupboard and forget all about them!

With my best wishes,
The Thank You Diva



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