51 Ideas for Smile-Inducing Lunch Box Notes & Surprises

girls looking into a lunch bag at school

You may not be able to check in with your school-aged child until after that end-of-day school bell rings, but that doesn't mean you can't let your son or daughter know you're thinking of them. And if you send a lunch box, then you have the perfect vessel in which to do just that!

For children in their first year of school or even in the first week of the new school year, it's nice to remind them they are loved and cherished by sending a sweet little "thinking of you" surprise in their lunch box. (Tweens and teens often dig this too! Not that they'll admit it.)

Every day, once a week, monthly, or a few special days a year, it's up to you how far you want to go with the lunch box fun. To make getting started easier, we've compiled 51 fun ideas for slipping notes and other small surprises into your child's lunch box.


lunch box notes graphic

51 Ideas for Smile-Inducing Lunch Box Notes & Surprises for Your Kids

  1. Make paper fortune cookies with special "fortunes" for your child. 
  2. Draw thumbprint animals to go with a sweet note.
  3. Jot down a shared favorite song lyric to make her want to hum.
  4. Stick frilly toothpicks in their sandwich or use them to make miniature fruit or cheese cube kabobs.
  5. Buy cool sticky notepads with pirates or butterflies and send a few special words or a little drawing every day until the pad runs out.
  6. Send a note on an origami heart.
  7. Include a lunchtime survey: learn about their day.
  8. Use a cookie cutter to cut their sandwich into fun shapes.
  9. Download an array of FREE and adorable printable lunch box notes from Alphamom, wee life, Fresh Picked Whimsy, Frog Prince Paperie, and a gazillion other sites.
  10. Equip your kid with a cootie catcher. Fill it with fun messages for your child and friends.
  11. Sneak in a special photo and a written memory like, "Remember the fun time we had at the ice cream parlor last week?"
  12. Did somebody say Monster Finger Puppets?
  13. Buy these Mini Lunch Notes for when you're feeling uninspired.
  14. Choose a month and send a creative compliment a day for your child: "You're kind," "You are great at sharing," "You're a good brother," "You are amazing at eating ice cream," etc.
  15. Order personalized pencils with your kid's name, nickname, encouraging words, or a fun family "inside joke." Tie them up with string and tuck them inside for a fun mid-day surprise.
  16. Paint "You Rock!" on a small rock.
  17. Send paper straws, fun and eco-friendly.
  18. Wrap Silly Bandz around the thermos with a note: "Have a good day, silly."
  19. Toss in some fun stickers! Kids love stickers.
  20. Place a paper doily in with lunch. Eating PB&J off a lace doily feels decadent somehow.
  21. Print out a photo of your dog or cat doing something funny.
  22. Doodle daily lunch box napkin notes like this artistic mom did for years.
  23. Slip in a fun photo of the holidays or summertime with a countdown: "Only XX days until [Christmas, Hanukkah, Spring Break, summer, etc.]." 
  24. Stick Post-Its that say "Eat Me" on the outside of each lunch item. Particularly the veggies.
  25. Send along a funny joke that your child can share with friends. My son's current favorite: Q: How do you wake up Lady Gaga when she's sleeping? A: Poker Face. Hahaha! My favorite joke of all time is still: Q: Why did the chicken cross the playground? A: To get to the other slide. Hahaha! Find lots more jokes here.
  26. My great grandmother used to paint my mom's name on little seashells. She still talks about those seashells.
  27. Educate your child at lunch with some cool trivia. Choose something in line with her interests or studies to make it a hit.
  28. Gift wrap all your child's lunch items. Unwrapping is always fun!
  29. Cut hearts out of old magazines. If your child likes motorcycles, make it a motorcycle magazine -- or wildlife or Legos, etc.
  30. Brighten her lunch break with a fabric flower she can keep or share.
  31. Download and make this cool Tree Flip Book. Your child can share the fun with friends.
  32. My son would jump with glee if I gave him a new Bakugan or Pokemon card in his lunch every day for a week.
  33. Just add paper dolls (free downloads).
  34. Make and give them a small custom notebook. Fill it with questions or writing prompts or leave it blank for them to fill.
  35. Surprise them with a paint chip bookmark in their favorite colors.
  36. Induce instant happy with heart-shaped brownies.
  37. Write a silly rhyming poem about something going on in your lives.
  38. Encourage your kids to put notes in their sibling's lunch boxes. Awww.
  39. Attach a note to a cotton ball: "Being your mom puts me on Cloud 9."
  40. Create an extra-special mom, dad, grandma, or even Rover blowing a kiss flip book.
  41. Throw in paper heart notes daily. With messages from mom and dad.
  42. At your next family gathering, have your family members write a special note you can include later in the month.
  43. Tickle their funny bones with printable lunch box riddles.
  44. Make their day with a Smiling Superstar Card.
  45. Write your child a special lunch haiku.
  46. Fold your special notes into cool squares, in fold 'n' tuck style, or with a pull tab. Only really cool moms do this kind of thing.
  47. Text your lunchtime note -- for those with older kids, how else would you reach them?
  48. Wrap a napkin around utensils with a new hair accessory or sport wristband.
  49. Pull out that cell phone baby toy and record a little message for your big kid on it.
  50. Cut out your child's favorite comic strip and tape it inside his lunch box.
  51. Send a small clue in an envelope for your kids to guess what's planned for after school or over the weekend: cut-out letters of her best friend's name if she has a playdate, a popcorn kernel if you're off to see a new movie, some sand if you're going to the beach, a birthday candle if there's a big party, etc.

Well, this ought to keep you busy and your kids smiling at lunchtime throughout the school year. Or heck, if my kids got one or two of these things in their lunch boxes, they'd be super happy. Good luck! Have fun!

Do you send lunch box notes or other little lunch box surprises to school?


Image ©iStock.com/omgimages


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