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The Genius Hack That Means I Never Have to Write a Birthday Party Thank-You Card Again

Photograph by Twenty20

Every year (well, twice a year, to be exact), my kids’ birthdays seem to crop up out of nowhere and I'm suddenly faced with the huge undertaking of planning parties for them. Almost always, I underestimate how big a job it will be to pull off a decent party. Even when I plan everything out carefully, and outsource certain tasks to my spouse or other family members, most of the physical and mental work of planning and executing the party falls squarely on me.

Picking a place. Planning the activities or entertainment. Making sure there will be enough snacks, drinks, pizza, cake, plates, forks and napkins for everyone invited. Sending out invites, and keeping track of RSVPs. Obsessively checking the weather to make sure nothing will be rained or snowed out. Putting together goody bags. The list is endless.

Even after you’ve pulled off the amazing, awesome big ole party, you still have work ahead of you. You’ve probably got to deal with some amount of cleaning up, paying any professionals you’ve hired, unwrapping presents and possibly exchanging or returning gifts. And let’s not forget those pesky thank-you cards.

I don’t know what it is about thank-you cards. I mean, I get it. I am seriously, immensely thankful for the good people who show up to my kids’ parties and am over-the-moon grateful when they give my kids gifts. And I believe kindness should be met with kindness. Gratitude is where it’s at in life, for sure.

But I’ve started to really slack off on thank-you notes in the past few years. I think it has a little something to do with being 10 years into this parenting thing, having two busy kids, a husband who sometimes works very long hours and the fact that I hold a job and am still in charge of 75 percent of household duties. I guess it’s called being a modern mother.

Anyway, I will freely admit that I don’t always send out thank-you cards. I’ve been known to send thank-you emails sometimes as a substitute. I’ve been known to go up to my friends at school drop-off and thank them personally for gifts. But I will admit that I’ve become a top-notch thank-you card slacker.

It’s so simple and obvious, I have no idea why I didn’t think of it first.

All that is going to change, though, my friends, thanks to a genius parenting hack that I came across at a recent birthday party I was attending with my 4-year-old.

Here’s what this kid’s mom did. It’s so simple and obvious, I have no idea why I didn’t think of it first. In the goody bags she gave out to each partygoer, this mom placed a thank-you card right there, inside. It was a real card, thanking her guest for coming to the party and thanking them for their gift (I suppose it’s possible that someone would not give a gift, but I think we can assume that most guests will). It was written sincerely and signed sweetly by her 4-year-old.

Totally brilliant, right?

Now, I get what you might be thinking. How can you thank someone for something before it happened? OK, but why can’t you? Unless all hell breaks loose, you know that in all likelihood, you're going to feel grateful about the person who attended your kids’ party. You’re going to be grateful for their gift. And even if you don’t like it, you’re going to thank them anyway!

And what exactly is the point of a goody bag anyway? A goody bag itself is a form of thanks to the partygoer. It’s a gift of gratitude. So why not place the thank-you card you're going to send anyway right there inside?

Now that we’ve gotten all that guilt nonsense out of the way, let’s talk about how lifesaving this hack is.

First, it saves you time. You’re going to be putting together the goody bags anyway, and it won’t feel like such a big deal to add that extra thing. If you expect your child to participate by writing the cards or signing their names, it will probably be easier to do so before the party in question, when they are still fresh and energetic.

And it’s just a freaking godsend for a parent in terms of the “mental load” of life. After the party, you'll be pooped, and totally mentally and emotionally depleted. You'll need to finally address all the other aspects of your life that have been on hold for the month or so that you have been focused on this party.

And you deserve a damn break.

I think that’s what it comes down to, in essence. We all want to express our thanks to the people who show up for our kids and who shower them with love on their special day. But we are tired. So very tired. And hacks like this make our lives that much easier.

So, party on, parents. And don’t forget to stuff your glorious thank-you notes in those goody bags.

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