Lunch Box Notes

Fuel for learning, Elizabeth Zott wrote on a small slip of paper before tucking it into her daughter’s lunch box. Then she paused, her pencil in midair, as if reconsidering. Play sports at recess but do not automatically let the boys win, she wrote on another slip. Then she paused again, tapping her pencil against the table. It is not your imagination, she wrote on a third. Most people are awful. She placed the last two on top.
–From Lessons in Chemistry, by Bonnie Garmus


Did your parents leave you notes in your lunch box when you were little? Lunch box notes are often an afterthought, but so many of us have written or received them—a few words of love or instruction, scribbled on a paper towel or a Post-it note.

We don’t think of these humble notes as a channel of correspondence or a forum for creativity. But if you regularly pack lunch for a child or a friend or partner, leaving a note is an opportunity for fun! If writing or drawing brings you pleasure,* then consider these little notes a canvas for a bit of daily creativity and conversation, or a very short form of letter writing. Lunch box notes can be practical, encouraging, funny, tongue-in-cheek, thought-provoking, or just plain silly. That daily bit of blank paper or napkin is yours to play with.

*We know that the people who write the most lunch box notes are busy, stressed parents trying to get their kids out the door. So consider this as inspiration only if it actually gives you pleasure!

Ideas for Lunch Box Notes

Ask or Answer a Question

Your lunch box note doesn’t have to be one-way only. What if you turned it into a conversation? Ask a question and leave space for your kid/partner/friend to answer, then let them ask you a question in turn. Your questions could be practical (what’s something new you learned today?), philosophical (if you had the chance, would you want to travel to space?), gamified (guess what color socks I’m wearing today?), or silly (what would you name an animal that’s a cross between a zebra and a flea?)

Write a Story in Installments

If you write lunch box notes every day, try writing a story! You can add a sentence or two each day, with pictures if you like. If you’re not sure what to write about, you can include notes to ask your lunch box recipient what characters and settings they’d like to see in their story.

Draw a Picture or Get Crafty

A lunch box note is just a piece of blank paper, when you get right down to it, and you can cover that paper in anything you like! If you enjoy drawing, draw your favorite characters or cartoons or scenery, or whatever you happen to be looking at. If you like journaling or scrapbooking, use your favorite art supplies: colorful inks, cute stickers, rubber stamps. You can even fold notes into origami shapes, or collect different recycled materials to turn into creative lunch box notes.

Tell a Joke

Do you collect puns and jokes and silly stories? Share a funny tidbit in your lunch box note to make the recipient laugh!

Teach Something

A lunch box note is a great place to share a new factoid or idea each day. These don’t have to be pedantic or boring, though: look for something that will interest or amuse your kid/partner/friend when they read it. You could share a quotation from something you’ve read, a word of the day, a fact about their favorite topic, or an interesting tidbit about the natural world. Chances are you’ll learn something too as you look for new information to share!

What’s your favorite thing to write in a lunch box note? Let us know in the comments below!

1 comment

  • Sarai

    I’ve been leaving 2″×3″ notes on my daughter’s sandwich box since Kindergarten and she’s now in 6th grade. She tells me she looks forward to the silly little drawings and puns or jokes I leave for her. Sometimes I’ll use stickers and sign the notes with a paw print to indicate her dog wrote it. Other times I write a thank you or encouraging comment written by one of her stuffed toys. So far, she hasn’t said she’s outgrown my notes : )

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