Happy Birthday, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, Grandparents’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Sweetest Day, Hanukkah, New Year, Easter; Merry Christmas; Get Well; In Sympathy for the Loss of Your Loss of Parent, Child, Pet, Marriage; Get Well Soon; Thank You for Your Gift, Hospitality, Help; I Love You; I Miss You; I Just Want To Say Hello – and the list of greeting card occasions and sentiments goes on.
The cost of staying in touch can add up, as can the piles of cards you receive from your friends and family. Most cards get thrown out soon after they’re received, so why not consider alternative ways to celebrate and commemorate those occasions that traditionally require a card? Make your greetings stand out from the rest and send sentiments that your friends and family will remember and appreciate:
1. Buy a ream of card stock and use it to design your own cards or allow your children to design some. Even if you send a traditional store-bought card, tuck in some of your children’s artwork for a personal touch.
2. Send a fun postcard or a postcard from a place you visited with the recipient. Postcards save on postage as well as purchase prices.
3. For thank-you notes, take a photograph of yourself using the gift, add a note of thanks on the back, and tuck it into an envelope or glue it to card stock to create a postcard.
4. Send an e-card instead of a traditional card.
5. Send a coupon booklet – buy one for a fast food place the recipient enjoys or make a booklet of coupons for babysitting, chores, or time spent together (offered by you, the sender, to the recipient).
6. Send the cash equivalent of what you would spend on a card. I’ve once read about a woman who always sent her grandkids what she would have spent on cards, which provided a great lesson in personal finance and was appreciated much more than the cards.
7. Make a phone call or write a long letter. In place of sympathy cards, write about the things you most appreciated about the deceased and share some fond memories you have of him or her.
8. Mail a sheet of stickers or coloring book to children with a note on the cover of the book / packaging of the stickers.
9. Send the recipient a flat magnet, either chosen for him/her at a store or designed by you to suit the occasion. (Craft shops and office supply stores often sell magnetic tape and business-card-shaped magnetic backings that can stick to your design.)
10. Make a bookmark to send to a reader (or, if giving a book as a gift, tuck one inside it instead of using a card).
11. Write a funny, personalized poem or draw a calligraphy acrostic (JOHN – Joy-filled, Open-minded, Helpful Neighbor) about the recipient to give as a birthday greeting. For birthday greetings that are hand-delivered, you can also tape coins to card stock in the shape of the birthday boy/girl’s age. (The weight of the coins adds extra postage costs.)
12. For Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, tape a note to a sentimental paper souvenir your loved one didn’t realize you saved, such as a program from a high school football game in which your sweetheart played or a ticket stub from the first movie you saw together.
Whatever you decide to send, be sure to check postal regulations to find out if the size, shape, or weight requires extra postage so that your greeting doesn’t arrive postage due. Once you send a few specially chosen greetings in place of store-bought greeting cards, you may even find that your thoughtfulness is building stronger relationships as you build a bigger bank account.