Monday, October 19, 2015

7 Effortless Tips for Writing the Perfect Kid’s Birthday Party Thank-You Note!

 As seen on the official's blog!

Birthdays are important moments in all of our lives, especially in those of our children. They are by far the most anticipated moments of the year when our kids feel celebrated, showered with love and wrapped in the ribbons of our hearts. Those polka dot moments, gone too quickly are the ones we remember forever. Teaching our children to embrace and appreciate the gifts they receive is essential too. Research has shown that when kids feel grateful for what they have they feel happier, are more successful and have higher grade point averages. Help your children embrace the magic of gratitude and pass on their appreciation for the blessings they’ve received by encouraging them to write their thank-you notes themselves or including them in the process. Here are some easy tips to get you started:

1. Buy your thank you notes ahead of time. Buy or order your thank-you notes at the same time you purchase your invitations. If you want to use a photo card thank-you note, let your child pick out their favorite so it’s easy when you upload the party image.

2. Always use an ink pen! Tradition dictates to always use black or blue ink pens to write your thank you notes - never ballpoint. For children, the single most important thing is to encourage them to write a note of appreciation and express their gratitude. If they are young and want to draw a picture, use crayons or the Color Me In Cards from – that’s even better because they are personal, one of a kind treasures from your child’s heart and imagination.

3. Make a List of Presents Received. As your child opens their gifts, do make sure to write down who the gift is from, or write down what the gift was, on the back of the birthday card before the gift disappears! It will make your life easier when your child writes their thank-you note so you can hand them the birthday cards one at a time to help them visually get it done and they can see how many more people they need to thank.

4. Include a Picture. It’s true - pictures speak a thousand words and are always our most coveted possessions. Do include one from the party in your thank-you note that captures the split second that becomes a cherished memory.

5. Sample Thank-you Notes. Finding the right words can feel overwhelming. Remember it’s a note, not a letter. Here are a few sample notes from my new book, 101 Ways to Say Thank You for Kids & Teens: All-Occasion Thank-You Note Templates, Social Media Etiquette & Gratitude Guide, to get you started:
  • Thank You for the Birthday Gift
Dear ________,

Having you at my birthday was a gift in itself! Thank you for the (name of gift). It is perfect, and I love it! I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and generosity.

Your friend,

Dear ________,

You totally rock! I adore my present – thank you. You really made my birthday a day I will never forget. Thank you a million times!

Love you,

  • Thank You for the Gift Card
Dear __________,

Thank you for the gift card to (name of store/website). It’s perfect! It was exactly what I wanted, and I can’t wait to go shopping. Thank you for the best birthday present ever.

All my love,


6. The Envelope. The envelope is just as important as your thank-you note as it’s the first thing the recipient of your note sees when the mail arrives. Include your preprinted return address on your envelopes or use your custom stamper and allow the birthday boy or girl to stamp them. Consider including an envelope liner too. It gives you another opportunity to include another party image too! Make sure the address is correct and printed legibly on the front and center of the envelope in three lines like this:
  • Name of Recipient:             Miss Jane Browne
  • Street Address:                   1234 Easy Street
  • City, State, Zip Code:         Anytown, CA 90210
7. Postage Stamps. Always have a sheet of postage stamps on hand so it’s one less thing you have to worry about or order them online and personalize them with a cute picture from the party.

Remember, in the digital age we live in, nothing is more treasured and shows your appreciation than a hand-written thank you note sent via snail mail with a stamp. It shows you took a moment to thank someone for the kindness and love they sent your way. We can change the world, one thank you at a time.

For more tips and ideas to express your gratitude, pick up a copy of Kelly Browne’s newest book, 101 Ways to Say Thank You: for Kids & Teens – All-Occasion Thank-You Note Templates, Social Media Etiquette & Gratitude Guide (Cedar Fort; July 2015) from her best selling book-series, 101 Ways to Say Thank You (Sterling; April 2015).

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Kid’s Birthday Party Etiquette – Tips, Invites, Gifts & What not to do!

Gone are the simple days when your mom would make a cake for your birthday and invite your classmates over for a gooey slice along with a Dixie cup of Hawaiian Punch. It was simple, memorable and your mom felt special when everyone raved about the cake she so lovingly made.  Today, children’s birthday parties are big business as our kids expect to have a fabulous party when their friends and classmates do. From bowling alleys to make your own pizzas and amusement parks, these parties can become costly as tiny party goers expect to eat, be entertained for an hour or two, eat their cake then depart with a party bag filled with goodies.  

If you’re having a party, here are a few things to think about:

Who are you inviting? The whole class? Just the girls/boys? Immediate friends? Friends and family? Take your budget into consideration before you decide.  If you can’t invite “everyone” and are worried about hurt feelings at school, mail the invitations to home addresses or send via email. Many schools won’t allow birthday party invites to be handed out at school unless everyone is invited. Still worried about hurt feelings? Make sure the parent’s know not everyone could be invited and to ask their children to avoid party talk at school – they’ll understand.

Inviting a child with divorced parents? If you aren’t close to either parent, send the invitation to both parents. You will avoid the situation of one parent casting the invitation aside because it’s not on “their weekend,” and the child thinking they weren’t invited. If you’re the parent taking your son/daughter to the party, then you should be responsible to get the present. Don’t put your child in the middle.

Is it a “drop-off” party or are parent’s and siblings included? Unless you’ve specified on your electronic or paper invitation that it’s a “drop-off” party – meaning please drop your child off and pick them up at the specified time on the invitation, there’s the parents to think about who often attend the party along with their child and bring the siblings.

Party Venues? You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a party. Consider doing a joint party with another classmate who’s birthday is close to your child’s. Think about cake and punch at the park, beach or local recreational center. What about arranging a tour at your local museum and making lunches for the kids? Some movie theaters offer discounted tickets before noon.

What’s an appropriate gift to give when your child is invited to a classmate’s party? Or what do you say when someone asks you what your child would like as a gift? Consider getting or mentioning a gift card to Target, Toys R’us, Barnes & Noble or Amazon if you are asked. The freedom to choose how they will use it will be appreciated and you won’t end up having more stuffed animals than you need. Typically, gift amounts range from $20-25.
Should children open their gifts at the party? Personally, I think it’s better to collect the gifts from the party and open them at home.

If you have been invited to a party, don’t ask another parent if they’ve been invited too. Why? Because, if the other parent’s child wasn’t invited, that parent might be upset their child wasn’t included.

Sending electronic invitations? Consider using Not only are they free, but you can “see” when your invite has been opened and read. In addition to the option of being able to send messages to your guests, the app is easily added to your mobile phone so you can easily access the details to the party and you can see the guest list if the host has elected to show it.

If you get an invitation to a party, always respond as soon as you can and respect the RSVP date so parents don’t have to follow up with you.

Thank-You Notes? Following the party, always help your child send a thank you note for the gifts they received. I love and always adore the elegance of Crane & Co. And of course my book is always a fabulous resource!

It’s important to teach our children to be grateful for what they have. Remember, there can be no jealously when you are grateful. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Mommy Gossip: Curbing “Blacktop Talk”

Gossip.  I often wonder if Shakespeare ever considered writing a tragedy about a poor soul falsely accused of an action he did not commit, or unfairly condemned for a foolish mistake that was distorted and extolled upon by the gossip of a jealous neighbor.  But the truth is - people love to hear about someone else’s misery and misfortune – it makes them feel better about their own troubles.

As a parent, “checking-in” with our children is part of the daily routine for most of us. You pick the kids up from school, ask about their day, talk through any difficulties and embrace the successes they have had. That’s our job - to nurture and guide our children through these formative years and help give them the grace and tools to survive whatever difficulties they might face in life. For our kids though, gossip has graduated from the blacktop, scrawled on the bathroom walls and broadcast for all to see on the inter-net where it can’t be washed away.  What’s even more tragic is that often times the “blacktop talk” about the behavior of a child or parent is often a string of untrue statements and unconfirmed reports about that person’s mistake that spreads like wildfire not only among the children, but among their parents and to other schools.

We as parents need to effect positive change here and be leaders to teach our children compassion, forgiveness and civility.  The reality is – everyone makes mistakes – it’s part of every single human being’s journey in their life.  We trip and we fall. It’s how we handle those falls that define who we are that makes us stronger.  It’s choosing to get up, learn, try again and be resilient.  It’s choosing to have empathy for someone struggling to find his or her way.  Teach your children to learn from that mistake.  As I comment in my book, we must be Ambassadors of Goodwill and effect change by being grateful for what we have, supporting our community through strife and spreading love.

So what do you do when you are shopping at Target and a parent from school finds you in the freezer section and begins reporting, “Did you hear?” You become stiff, wondering what juicy tidbit this mother who’s-in-the know holds.  Your ice cream melting, she goes on, filled with internal power, “But you can’t tell anyone!” Her eyebrows raised as she looks around already condemning the information. Without hesitation, you swear your undying allegiance, willing to miss your Drenched Cardio class even if it would help you burn off that creeping muffin top. Trust established, the floodgates of gossip open and the contorted twisted story is carried on to the next person – you. The gossiper pauses, gauging your reaction, because for them that’s the best part – they are going for shock value and that’s what keeps the gossip spreading.

But wait - here’s the problem.  My mother always says, “Those who talk to you, talk about you.” It’s so true. Whatever you say next, will be carried forward, “Well, Mrs. Green said that she thinks what happened is terrible, and that they should (insert here)!” Now you’ve been quoted, perhaps you did say that, but the delivery of “what Mrs. Green” said has transmuted from a comment of empathy and forgiveness for the victim of the gossip, to one of condemnation. Suddenly, without even knowing, the poisonous sting of gossip has pulled you in – and you still have that muffin top.

Here are some tips to help you survive gossip and help you kick it to the curb!

10 Tips to Curb “Blacktop Talk”
  • Gossip tends to be unconfirmed reports about someone else’s personal hardship or adversity. 
  • Whatever gossip you hear, know it will never be the whole truth.
  • Worry about what’s under your roof – not someone else’s.
  • If you hear gossip that is potentially harmful, report it to the school – not to another parent.
  • Let the gossip you hear, stop with you.
  • Be a role model for your children – teach them not to spread someone’s misfortunes, but have dignity and compassion.
  • Try to keep your family “business” and personal details of your life to yourself. The less information people have about you the better.
  • If you’ve been a victim of gossip, hold your head high – the gossipers are looking for a reaction, don’t give them one.
  •  If you inadvertently hear gossip, don’t give any information or say anything other than, “I’m sorry to hear that,” or confidently say, “I don’t think that’s true,” and make an excuse to move away from the gossiper.
  • Encourage your school to educate their students and parents and call upon them to be Ambassadors of Goodwill and affect change in your community.
Kelly Browne - Copyright 2013

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Saying Thank You to our Troops!!

I was recently contacted for an Memorial Day interview by Cynthia Ramnarace on “How to Approach Military to Show Your Appreciation”…since only a portion appeared, here it is in it’s entirety: 

I see a soldier in uniform and really want to say, “thank-you.” Is it rude to just walk up to him? And what’s the best way to word my appreciation?

I find it an honor to be able to personally thank our brave servicemen and women who put themselves in harm’s way to defend our hard fought freedom.  No matter where I am, I will approach our military members and whole-heartedly thank them for their service to our country and say how much we appreciate their sacrifice.  Most often, they are touched and surprised, and I know I have left them with that little sparkle of gratitude that they will carry with them.  

The best way to word your appreciation is by simply saying what comes to your heart. If you start with, “Excuse me, I just wanted you to know how much I (or my family and I) appreciate your service to our country. Thank you.” Anything else you want to add is up to you. 

On a recent trip through Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, a small unit of soldiers were waiting to deploy. The mood was quiet as family members were allowed to sit and wait – maybe seeing each other for the last time. I could feel the concern and their spirit of duty.  My heart raced, wanting to offer something but at the same time not wanting to interrupt these last moments.  As I passed with my girls, I quietly said to all of them, “We love you all and will be keeping you in our prayers.”  Those army wives and children were so proud and grateful that their husbands, fathers and brothers were being honored by a stranger. Walking to our gate, another group of armed forces deplaned.  As they walked through the concourse, I heard someone begin to applaud; like dominos… people turned to join in and cheer on our soldiers. It was a moment that made our hearts swell.

I see a service member who was obviously injured in the line of duty. Should I mention the injury as I say thanks?

Why mention it? They are struggling to maintain a normal life and adjust to the injury in the best way he or she can. Quite possibly the injury was traumatic and incredibly painful. From my personal experience, most service members don’t want to relive those gut-wrenching moments on the battlefield in the grocery store. Just sincerely thank them for their service and sacrifice to our country no matter what war they fought in.  Your sentiment will be appreciated.

 I’m too shy to walk up to a stranger and say thanks. Any ideas on other ways to express my gratitude?

Yes, there is! There are many organizations that actively collect thank-you notes to include in care packages to send to our deployed troops and injured servicemen. One of my favorite organizations is “Operation Gratitude” -  To date they have collected and sent over 632,700+ boxes to our soldiers on ships and bases around the world filled with thank-you notes, DVD’s, candy, beanie babies, toiletries and love from America. If you think these servicemen and women aren’t grateful, please click on their site and read the overwhelming thank you’s they’ve received. Operation Gratitude has also expanded their network to include the “Wounded Warriors” and they always need donations and thank-you notes!

What can you do?
Write a letter and send it today!!
Ask your church, school or group to put out a request to their students or members to bring in an open thank-you note to a solider. Sometimes we want to help but unless there is someone to suggest getting it done, it passes us by. Then offer to collect the letters and send them on to Operation Gratitude or your local military care organization. 
Don’t forget the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or other children’s organizations that can draw the sweetest pictures and include the best cookies ever!
Ask your local farmer’s market, grocery store or shopping mall if you can set up a table for people to write thank-you notes to our soldiers. With paper and pen ready, people are more likely to sit down in the spirit of the moment and get it done! 
Make a donation! The postage for each care package is $15 and every bit helps! Or check out the needed items on the Operation Gratitude website. 
Knit? Scarves and yarn are in demand. Sew? How about making a Neck-Gaiters to keep a serviceman cool!
Organize a bake sale and donate the money.
Got Halloween Candy? Ask your school or dentist to suggest a local collection for our troops. Every piece goes into a care package.
Volunteer! My daughter and I have volunteered at Operation Gratitude and addressed the care packages to our soldiers. It was an amazing experience to hold the boxes bursting with love and write each soldier’s name on them. There were American Indian names, English, Spanish, Korean, Irish, Italian, French – and for a moment, we imagined what they looked like and prayed for their safe return. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Kate Middleton - Duchess of Cambridge


You are every single bit the young lady of class and style. We wish you much luck from America and hope that as a role model you will influence women everywhere to carry themselves with such grace, dignity, and poise. Our world needs civility among it's people - and they will look to you.