Kid-Friendly ‘Secret Message’ Thank You Notes

Thank you notes

On a Thanksgiving morning four years ago, I wasn’t cooking the turkey as planned — I was giving birth to a perfect baby boy, a surprising 2 ½ years early.

Obviously, his birthday doesn’t always fall on Thanksgiving, but it’s always going to be close, which has it’s ups and downs (ups and downs I understand well, celebrating my own birthday a week before Christmas).

But this year, I discovered a nifty little upside, from a parenting perspective. His birthday fell two days before Thanksgiving, and we had his birthday party the previous weekend. All of which meant that Thanksgiving morning was the perfect time to set him up with some art supplies to practice his gratitude, in the form of birthday thank you notes, while I cooked.

It was really quite a perfect scene. Daddy slept in after a hard night of last-minute classwork and tests. I chopped veggies in the kitchen. And at the dining room table, Sweet Boy painted and exclaimed in excitement every time the “invisible letters” on these cards “magically appeared.”

Best of all, we were able to hand-deliver most of the thank you notes at dinner, just days after receiving his gifts (probably a record for me)!

Painting in pajamas
Painting in pajamas


White crayon creates messages that "magically appear" under watercolor paints.
White crayon creates messages that “magically appear” under watercolor paints.

Secret Message Thank You Notes

I started with a “super bonus pack” of 50 card stock cards and envelopes from Fred Meyer. I folded them as designed, then on the front of each wrote THANKS in white crayon.

Then, I just set Sweet Boy down with the cards, a cup of water and a set of kids’ watercolor paints.

The paint won’t adhere to the waxy crayon, so when he painted over the words, it created a design on the paper and made the THANKS “magically” appear.

He thought it was awesome that the invisible words showed up out of nowhere, and I thought it was awesome that his painting came out beautifully, no matter how he mixed the colors (and he very much mixed the colors). We ended up with multicolor blocks, rainbows and random swirls. Each card was similar, and yet completely unique.

I had previously noted some of the cutest statements he had made about each present as he played with it, so it took only minutes to write a quick, personalized thank you inside each card, complete with a quote from Sweet Boy.

If we’d had more time, I would have had him sign each card, as he’s practicing writing his name, but we had to get to dinner.

I may even repeat the project — maybe with some snowflakes or stars drawn in the white crayon or a more limited paint palette — for Christmas thank you notes in a few weeks!


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