The wrapping paper and ribbon have been thrown out, all the leftovers have been gobbled up and if you've been productive, the Christmas tree is already out on the curb.
But there is one thing that you probably haven't thought of just yet, the holiday thank you notes that you should be writing.
I know for some, taking pen to paper and actually 'writing' your thoughts down sounds archaic and not very 'green'. Everyone has a phone in their pocket and why send out a paper card that you have to take the time to buy, write on, stuff in an envelope, buy a stamp, drag yourself to the post office, etc. when you can copy and paste the same 'Happy Holidays' to everyone in your contact list and be done with it. Why you ask? Because it is a nice thing to do for someone that has done something nice for you, plain and simple.
It was a nice thing for your aunt who you haven't seen in a decade to send you that Christmas gift every year just to let you know she is thinking of you. It was a nice thing for your friend to host that Holiday Open House or NYE party so you and your gang of pals could celebrate together. And it was a nice thing for your neighbour to bring over that box of chocolate cupcakes just to say 'Happy Holidays'. When someone takes the time to be kind to you, letting them know that you appreciate it shouldn't be thought of as a drag and the very best way to let anyone know how much you appreciate their time and effort, is for you to take the time (I promise a few minutes is all it takes) and a dash of effort to truly express what it meant to you and how it made you feel. The extra bonus for you is because so few people actually bother with the handwritten note anymore, that card you send out will seem all the more special since it just might be the only snail mail your Granny got this year.
A proper thank you note should be timely. I always have a stash of cute thank you cards (Tiny Prints and Kate Spade always have some adorable notes but these ones are my current favs that I have tucked into my nightstand. I try my best to write a quick note that very night after returning from a dinner party or get-together so I keep them easily accessible before jumping into bed. I find it's best to do this when the event is still fresh in my mind so I can touch on real aspects of the party, always the highpoints and I want my appreciation to sound as genuine as it really feels. As for a thank you for a gift that has been sent to me or received in person, I give myself a holiday buffer zone and make sure they are all out before the children have gone back to school.
Speaking of the kiddos, you can teach them a simple good manners lesson on the importance of expressing their gratitude AND get them to do most of the work for you (moms got to do what moms got to do 😄) with a thank you card template like this one posted below (feel free to save it!). Print it out and work with them to fill out the appropriate details which you can then paste into a traditional note card (some cards can even be fed through your printer for a neater look).
And now since my goal here is not so much 'the formality of what's proper' and more so the importance of getting into the habit of expressing gratitude, if actual paper thank you cards are a little too 'adultish' for you right now, baby steps is all I am asking for this year. You can start your path to gratitude through an email or text (egad!) if you are so inclined but make sure they are just as personalized as they would have been if you actually wrote out a card. Include the person's name, mention the gift they sent you, how much you appreciated it and how you plan to use it.
(eg. Dear Poppy, thank you so much for the gorgeous scarf! It will really come in handy this winter, it's always so chilly here in ____. I will think of you every time I wear it! With much love, Lily)
Also very important when sending a thank you electronically is to realistically assess if the recipient is as tech savvy as you assume everyone is. Older people might not have the access to text or email that most of us have so sending a text or email to someone who might never see it is kind of counterproductive. That is God's way of telling you it's time to grab your pen 😍