This is a collaborative post.

We’re not big on greeting cards in my family. I can’t remember when the ‘tradition’ started, but rather than get each other Birthday Cards, my Mum has always championed spending the money on a bar of chocolate instead – her way of saving the trees, and a better way to spend a couple of quid! I’ve long thought this was quite a sensible idea (and I’m never one to say no to chocolate…), but nonetheless, I’ve invested in a wide selection of Christmas cards this year in an effort to counteract the convenience of the digital society we live in. In an age when most birthday wishes or greetings are sent over Facebook in a matter of seconds, the act of buying a card, writing in it and sending it shows a higher level of dedication that means so much more.

Writing Christmas Cards to improve handwriting with Uni-ball. Gel Pens on a Christmas backdrop

Historically, I’m terrible at writing Christmas cards. I usually leave it way too late, and even if I do get around to writing them, I usually forget to take the blasted things with me anywhere and I find them at some point in the new year, hidden away in a carrier bag, rendered completely useless. This year, however, I wanted to make it more of a priority. It’s dawned on me recently that Pickle doesn’t see us handwriting very often at home. We very rarely write anything down these days – everything is typed on a laptop or on our phones, and whilst that’s reflective of our digital world, I want to make sure Pickle realises the importance of learning to write and sees it as a normal everyday activity.

Uniball Pens on Table with Santa plate with cookies on

I’m a strong believer that children learn the most from copying the behaviour of the adults around them, and as a Stay at Home Mom and all-night-milk-provider, I’m definitely around him the most and shoulder the most responsibility on that front. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that any time he has seen me with a pen in hand, he’s been absolutely fascinated and keen to get involved. I’ve been guilty of getting frustrated by this in the past – just wanting to get a meeting written down in my diary or address a letter without getting jolted or having to fight for sole custody of the pen, rather than using it as a great opportunity to get the drawing crayons out.

Writing Christmas Cards, Blue crayon in foreground mark making

After reading this article about the Stages of Handwriting Development in Children, I was struck by how important mark making is as a first stage on the journey of handwriting. And the earlier you can start, the better! From the moment babies can control the use of their hands and feet, mark making is possible – prodding a finger into food, smearing sauce across a highchair, and walking in substances are all good starts, and although patterns, lines and squiggles may look like nothing but scribbles to us, practice soon makes perfect and gradually those lines and squiggles begin to take on meaning, are given context and are used as a way to communicate.

Pickle sat at a table, mark making with a crayon

So I’m making a big deal about Christmas cards this year. I’ll be letting Pickle write or mark whatever he wants on each one, encouraging him to do so and all the while strengthening those little hand muscles. I’ll be putting Christmas tunes on in the background (the BublĂ© album is always my go-to festive album of choice), maybe have some mince pies to hand for nourishment, and a lovely array of pens, pencils and crayons for us both to choose from. I apologise in advance if you receive a card from us that is illegible due to scribbling. Actually, no… I’m not going to apologise. I’m going to proud of whatever mark-making is accomplished, and I absolutely look forward to building up towards Pickle being able to sign his own name.

Pickle smiling with cookie in hand, ready to write Christmas Cards

If you’d like more information on how to encourage handwriting in children, or to download some handy worksheets you can do at home, the Uni-ball website has an array of fantastic resources and is a great place to find inspiration. I also found this fact sheet from PACEY (the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years) really useful.

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How early should we be encouraging mark making? As early as possible! Try letting your baby or toddler scribble on Christmas cards this year to help get them used to mark making and learning how to write - scribbles are the first step.

Disclaimer: this is a collaborative post with Uni-Ball, who have compensated me for my time writing this article and kindly sent us a wonderful array of Uni-Ball pens to practice writing with. This post also contains an Amazon affiliate link. This doesn’t affect the price you pay, but if you choose to purchase, I receive a small referral fee.

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