Friday, December 26, 2008

Thank You Ideas

When my kids were small I saw a cute idea in a magazine (maybe Family Fun?)for kids to send a Valentine to distant relatives. We've since used the "hug card" to send thank you notes, get well soon cards, and simply "I miss you" notes. Have your kid lie down and spread out his arms on a long sheet of paper. (We used the rolls we had for easel painting, but you can also just tape sheets of paper together.) Trace around your kid's hands, arms, head and neck, then cut out the shape. Your kid can add hair and facial features with crayons or markers, and then dictate a note for you to print across the "hug." It takes a lot of folding to fit in an envelope and it's kind of a pain to cut out, but I've never known a grandparent who wasn't ga-ga for a note like this.
And speaking of cute mail, don't let your kid forget to send a little thank you note to Santa! After all, I bet Santa went to a lot of trouble in his workshop or hanging out in those long lines at the mall, not to mention the late night on Christmas Eve and all. Standard mail delivery to the North Pole is a bit iffy after December 25th, but you can rely on Elf Mail to get a miniature note to Kris Kringle promptly. You can get a pdf to print a template for a make-your-own Elf mailbox, plus a cute little Elf-sized greeting card and envelope here. My sample, above, is just assembled from the paper print out, but it does look (and work) even better if you print it on cardstock. You can choose your own color scheme and add whatever decorations/embellishments you prefer.
Assembly is fairly straight forward, but it's definitely a job for grown ups or skilled older kids.


  • Cardstock, white paper

  • Craft-quality glue stick or tacky glue and toothpick; repositionable glue stick

  • Scissors, craft knife, chopstick, scoring tool (like inkless ballpoint pen)

  • Markers, stickers, whatever for embellishing the mailbox and cards

I also have some tips to make assembly easier.

  1. You can print and cut out the template on cardstock and trace it onto whatever paper or card you want - or make life a little easier by printing a copy on paper, cutting loosely around the mailbox and extra parts (the support piece, the door handle, and the key) and lightly gluing them to your cardstock with a repositionable glue stick or spray adhesive. Then carefully cut out along the dark solid lines and score and fold along the dashed and dotted lines with the template still in place. (If you've glued the template to the right side, just follow the mountain versus valley fold lines as marked - but reverse them if you glue it to the wrong side.) Don't forget to use a craft knife to cut out 3 sides of the lower door (the one for the elf mailman to use to remove the mail) and cut out the keyhole too, because it does kind of work with the key.

  2. Remove the template, and assemble the mailbox, using a glue stick or tacky glue applied with a toothpick. First, glue the support piece to the underside of the shelf that connects to the pull-down door (A in my template). The tabs will fold up next to the door (you'll glue them to the inner sides in a minute). Glue the handle to the door.

  3. Cut out the little triangle-y parts around the part that curves over the top if you haven't already done so. (It's easier to do the folds before you cut them out.)

  4. Fold the main part into a box shape, and secure by gluing the long tab to the edge it meets. You may have to reach inside from both the top and bottom to pinch it or use your chopstick to get it to stick well. Then fold the shelf and door into position and glue the little tabs of the support piece just in front of the pull-down door - this isn't absolutely necessary, but it does make everything more stable when you open and close the door to drop the letters in.

  5. Fold up the bottom and glue its tabs in place. You may need to use a chopstick or something to reach in and rub the surfaces together.

  6. Rub glue on the triangle tabs on both sides of the curved top piece and position them carefully. This is a bit tricky. Again, a chopstick is useful for reaching inside for the gluing.

  7. Cut out some cards and envelopes. Have your kid dictate notes and maybe decorate the fronts with mini artwork or tiny stickers. (You can also enlarge the notes 200%, write them and then reduce 50% to make it easier if you're at the reading glasses stage of life like I am.) Then let your kid post his mail!

The mailbox is also excellent for sending letters to the Tooth Fairy or any other tiny creatures who frequent your home.
Here's a link for some more printable miniature envelopes at Jim's Dollhouse Pages (which also has tons of other printable cool miniatures in different scales).

If you like the idea of the mailbox, but can't muster the energy to make another craft after the holiday season, you can buy a lovely little metal one here from Hearthsong, one of my favorite catalog/online toy stores. Or you can hunt for a vintage one like this that makes me feel utterly nostalgic and sentimental - I used to buy very similar ones for like 35 cents at the Williamsburg Pharmacy in Arlington, VA when I was a kid. I think I had about a dozen of them, but none survived our various moves. Sigh. Maybe I'll have to buy myself a holiday letdown gift...

Tomorrow (or soon) the templates and tutorial for the mushroom glitter house!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I saw this on another website but I liked seeing how it looked completed1 Thanks!:)]