In an ideal world, every child would rush to the craft drawer immediately following his birthday and handwrite a heartfelt thank you note to acknowledge each gift. After which, he'd clean up his workspace.
Then give you a foot massage.
In the real world, I'm loving The Color N Kids cards from Portland-based Stubby Pencil Studio. These packs of birthday cards, get well cards or blank notes are adorned with classic coloring book illustrations to inspire even reluctant note-writers to get out the Crayolas and literally make their mark, even if is only on the outside.
The designs aren't entirely surprising--cakes and party hats for the birthday cards, themes like animals and toys on the blank notes (although I do love the Six in Space set and the transportation cards)--but that's also what makes them so versatile. Use them equally for the kids to wish Uncle Jeff a speedy recovery or thank Noah for the regifted box of Legos that you bought him last year.
In time you just might raise a kid with great manners. Add that to your ideal world list. -Liz
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