It’s Christmas day and the whole family has gathered at grandma’s house to exchange gifts. All eyes are on your 4-yr. old as she excitedly rips open grandma’s gift. What will it be? More importantly, you worry, how will she react? Will she remember to say thank you?
The holidays are filled with teaching moments for parents and kids alike. In the excitement of opening gifts, it’s easy for kids to forget their manners, but a little preparation beforehand goes a long way toward heading off an embarrassing moment.
Every family is different, but we think it’s a good idea to set expectations with your kids about opening gifts—especially gifts from extended family members. Kids should know that it’s impolite to rush through opening gifts, that each gift deserves a sincere thank you, and that grandma spent time picking out that gift so her feelings might be hurt if you say you don’t like it. You can’t really control what your child does, but you can plant the seed. And it’s a lot easier to have this talk before the big event, than on Christmas day in front of all the relatives.
One last tip: for gifts that are opened when the giver is not present, remember to have thank you notes on hand. There are plenty of kids’ thank you card ideas available, such as coloring cards, that can turn this task into a fun activity. Hope your Christmas is a merry one!
If you are lucky enough to have a warm home to go to this Thanksgiving, filled with the mouthwatering smell of roasting turkey and the happy chatter of family and friends, then you have plenty of reasons to be thankful. It’s easy to get swept up in the hubbub of cooking and decorating and family squabbles, and to lose sight of what’s most important on this uniquely American holiday.
Everyone has their own Thanksgiving family traditions, such as helping out at a food shelf or participating in a fun activity like an annual touch football game, but when everyone finally settles around the table we all share one thing: our thanks. Some families appoint one person to say grace, others join hands in a prayer or a song. Still other families go around the table and ask each person to share something they’re thankful for.
Having been put on the spot a few times, some of us at Pear Tree thought it would be a nice idea to create note cards especially for this purpose. These little Thanksgiving notelettes ask the question “What are you thankful for?” with a blank area beneath the message or inside the card to write in your answer. You could also use simple thank you cards. We love this idea, for lots of reasons.
First the activity is meaningful for both kids and adults. The notes can be filled out in advance and read aloud, or passed around the table. You can even make a game out of guessing who wrote each one. Best of all, they can be kept! Send each guest home with their note as a remembrance, or give them to the hostess or the eldest member of the family. Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings, and these little notes are a tangible reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for. It may even become a new Thanksgiving family tradition.
Who would have thought that pink would turn out to be the most striking fall color? October is breast cancer awareness month, and everywhere you look there are ways to help the cause. You don’t have to run a marathon or walk for days, it can be as simple as picking a date and hosting a dinner party for friends, family, neighbors or co-workers.
First, contact the charity organization of your choice for information about how to donate, how the donations are used, and for any support materials they may have that you can use. Susan G. Komen for the Cure, has an entire section of their website devoted to planning pink events, called Passionately Pink for the Cure. It offers lots of fun breast cancer party ideas and downloadable support materials.
With pink as your theme, it’s easy to be creative. We’ve taken a wedding rehearsal dinner invitation and customized it to work perfectly for our pink dinner party. Everyone is invited to make a donation. (Fund-raising professionals suggest $30 per person as a starting point). From there, it’s up to you to decide how pink you want to get. Do you want to simply ask your guests to wear pink? Or to go crazy and dress in costumes? Decorations, table settings and food can be simple pink touches, or over-the-top pink. Either way, a pink party is a great way to make a difference, and have fun while doing it. Don’t forget to follow up with thank you notes for your guests (pink, of course) to let them know how much money you raised for the cause!
Sometime around mid-August, as the summer winds down, it’s like someone throws a switch and suddenly we feel a nostalgic longing for new shoes, a new sweater, and a new box of crayons. Whether you’re eight or thirty-eight, the start of the school year signifies a new beginning, a time to get organized and get down to business.
We sort through the kids’ closets to see what fits and what doesn’t. We clean out cluttered desk drawers, throwing away dried up markers and broken pencils to make room for fresh new ones. And for those of us at Pear Tree, this includes Mom’s desk drawer. Kids aren’t the only ones who need new supplies for the school year. This is the perfect time to re-stock our stationery drawer.
Personalized note cards, thank you notes and address labels are the basics we can’t do without. Next, depending on our kids’ ages, we find mommy cards can be very handy for making connections with other parents at school. For the new teacher, personalized book markers or note cards make a thoughtful beginning-of-the-year gift. Even if we don’t have kids in school, cleaning out our desks and freshening up our stationery collection just feels right at this time of year.
My family draws names for our annual Christmas gift exchange. The grown up siblings and spouses exchange gifts, and our kids draw separately for their own exchange. My family is spread from coast to coast, and frequently I find myself spending as much money to wrap and mail the gifts as I do on the gifts themselves. Even more distressing is going to all that trouble and then not hearing so much as a Happy Holidays from the person who received it. Did they get it? Did they like it? I am left to wonder.
Aside from the obvious question this raises about my family’s upbringing (it’s always the same person and you know who you are) it makes me wonder why it is customary to send thank you cards for birthday presents but not holiday gifts? Okay, I get that when we were kids most of the presents came from Santa, who surely didn’t expect a thank you card for doing his job. But if you are reading this, you are too old for that excuse.
This year, one of my favorite thank you card ideas for the holidays, I am ordering personalized holiday thank you cards for my kids. I will let the kids choose their own design, pick the photo, whatever makes them happy. Or they can choose one of the coloring thank you cards Pear Tree has this year. I want them to learn that a hand-picked gift from a cousin, unlike one from Santa, requires a timely and sincere thank you. I will start small. I have the option to order as few as 8, which should be plenty. And for me, a personalized thank you card with a stylish holiday theme will be perfect. Who knows, maybe a certain someone will get the message.