Writing Christmas Thank You Letters
Wow! Now here’s an “old school” idea. Who writes letters anymore? And Christmas “thank you” letters?
Imagine the thrill of receiving such a letter. Why not take a walk down nostalgia lane and try this with your students.
Step One – ask students to bring special paper and a favorite pen. If possible, provide some of your own – a selection of colored paper would be a start as would a supply of some gel pens, speedballs, good quality ballpoints and maybe even a fountain pen.
Step Two – while you’re waiting for the supplies to arrive, try a practice copy. We’re talking “friendly letter” here so the format is simple. The date and a salutation are all that’s needed to get started. Even the term “salutation” may need to be explained.
Step Three – getting started. Introduce the idea of leaping right in to the purpose for the letter. I always used to start mine with “How are you? I am fine. I’m sorry it has taken so long to write but . . . then fill in some lame excuse.” My parents would force me to write my annual thank you letters but gave me little guidance.
The most obvious beginning is to say thanks for the gift. Name the gift. Talk about why you like it or what you’ve done with it. Give some specific details. CAUTION – depending on the gift, don’t immediately compare it to others that were more extravagant, larger, or more expensive. e.g. Thanks very much for the socks. I love the color purple and the cool lightning bolts that go down the sides. I also got new downhill skis, a helmet, and a digital camera. Too cool, eh?
Step Four – Talk about the Christmas holiday and your life in the last weeks or months. Doing this makes the letter sound a little less like a chore being fulfilled – saying only thank you and nothing else.
Step Five – This is an option and should only be considered if you really want to hear back from whomever you’re writing to. Ask questions – not necessarily about Christmas but anything you are truly interested in.
Step No Number but Throughout the Writing – have a piece of scrap paper beside you. As you write, jot down other ideas that come to mind while you are in the midst of talking about something else. Use the scrap list to add the ideas at the appropriate moment. Also use the scrap paper to check words that are hard to spell. Sometimes I need to see a word written several ways in order to determine which one looks right.
And have some fun. Add your latest joke. Draw a little picture. Share a cute saying you’ve heard. Sign off with something other than Love or Yours Truly – be creative. If you can, spice up the envelope a bit – color and a bit of calligraphy – and add a slightly different stamp.
Step Six – show students the two ways to fold letters – see the iMovie. Because you’re just practicing, use the outside of the folder letter to act as an envelope and put the ideas noted above to use. Likely, you will have to show how to put the return address and sender’s address on the envelope.
Step Seven – share. If you’ve had your kids write “pretend” letters for practice, it should be both fun and instructive to let your class look at a variety of samples.
Step Eight – after Christmas, allow some class time for those who wish to participate to write the real McCoy. As an option, allow the writing of any friendly letter. While the kids write, write one of your own.