Make 5 cheap ‘greeting cards’ that blow Hallmark away.

By Paul Michael on 2 April 2007 (Updated 15 March 2009) 7 comments
Photo: Wise Bread

Before I share with you my 5 great ways to make outstanding greeting cards, I'd like to rant about the four issues I have with store-bought greeting cards, like those produced by Hallmark in the millions.

The first is the price. On average, $4-$5 for a folded piece of card with a stock photo and a humdrum message seems just a little overpriced to me.

Second, the messages themselves are so generically impersonal, I have a hard time believing you couldn’t write something better yourself that’s really from the heart. That’s why, if I am absolutely in a rush and have no time, I’ll buy a blank card and write the verse myself.

Third, the printing of the price on the back of the card. I know, I’m cheap. But it’s the first thing people look at when they’re shopping around for cards. It’s kind of a “yes, I like that person…but not enough to buy this $5 card.” Then, the reverse happens. That person casually glances at the back of the card you do buy and says “hmm, they like me…but only enough to buy a $2.99 card. I’ll be moving them down my speed dial list.” It’s like Hallmark is guilting us into buying the more expensive ones.

Finally, it’s the occasions now available. “Congratulations on taking the toll road this morning” or “Sorry to hear your ex-wife got remarried.” If you can think of it, there’s a card for it. Argh. Sorry, rant over.

Anyway, I’ve always tried to make my own cards. My wife, my folks, my nieces, they’ve all received them and they all love them to pieces. And guess what. They’re cheaper, more original and way more impressive than anything you can get in the card aisle. So here are 5 cards you can make quickly and easily, with very little talent required. And I guarantee, you will be in that person’s good books for months. (By the way, I’m assuming everyone has things like scissors, glue, and the usual office supplies.)

Number 1 – The message in a bottle. $2.15 - $3.15

Message bottle
Shopping list -
1 glass bottle with cork - $2 (I got mine from Michaels, try any craft store)
1 piece of scrapbooking paper – 15 cents (choose a theme appropriate to the message)
A few small shells from the beach – FREE (or, get a bag for $1 from a craft store)

Instructions -
Do I have to spell it out? Ok. Take the cork out of the bottle, write a lovely message on the paper, put a few shells in the bottom of the bottle, roll up the paper, pop it inside and put the cork back on. Really simple. Do it on Valentine’s Day or an anniversary, or a message to friends/relatives overseas. Trust me, it’s a winner.

Number 2 – The Sweetheart Note. $1.65 - $2.00
sweethearts
Shopping list -
1 box of sweethearts candy – 50 cents
1 piece of scrapbooking paper – 15 cents (choose a theme appropriate to the message)
1 large envelope – Around $1
Glue

Instructions -
This one takes a little creative thinking, but c’mon, you can do it. Take a box of sweethearts candy, tip them out onto the kitchen table and find the ones most appropriate to your message. Then, simply write your message on the paper, and replace certain words/phrases with candy sweethearts. For instance….you have always been my love and I will give you 2000 hugs every day…etc, etc.

You have to glue the candy onto the paper, so it’s inedible (unless you use sugar paste) but the message and the delivery is great. Just pop the finished masterpiece into your envelope and wait for the reaction. It’s really only for couples, but any occasion between two lovers is fine…a marriage proposal, anniversary, Valentine…anything.

3 – Photographic Memory - $1.00
memory lane
Shopping list -
1 photograph of something special – 20 cents
1 piece of card – 30 cents
1 envelope – Around 50 cents
Glue

Instructions -
It’s the thought that counts on this one.
Find a photograph of something very special between yourself and the recipient. Maybe it’s a photograph of the bench where you had your first kiss. Maybe it’s you as a young child. It’s really anything that has sentimental value.

Just glue that to the front of a folded piece of card, with a headline underneath like REMEMBER WHEN…
With a touching message inside, you’ll hit a home run every single time. It’s personal, it’s from the heart, and it’s about 4 times cheaper than your average greeting card.

4 – Origami 101 – 95 cents
Origami boat
Shopping list -
3 sheets of scrapbooking paper – 45 cents
1 envelope – Around 50 cents
Origami pattern (free on the Internet or from your local library)

Instructions -
Ok, you’ll need a few practice runs at this one, which is why I’ve included 3 sheets of paper in the budget. Scrapbooking paper is perfect because it’s square, and almost all origami patterns start with a square sheet of paper.
Find a pattern appropriate to your occasion (there are thousands of patterns out there), and also your skill level. Be realistic. I’ve included a link to get you started here .
Practice on your two sheets of paper. You want to get this right. Then, write your message on the 3rd sheet of paper, fold it into your Origami shape and pop it into your envelope. The words on the paper will be visible but the message won’t be readable until the recipient opens up the folded paper. It’s a nice surprise.

5 – The Candy Bar Wrapper - $1 – whatever you want to spend!
Choccy bar
Shopping list -
1 sheet of scrapbooking paper – 15 cents
1 candy bar – Anywhere from 30 cents to as expensive as you want to go
Pens, pencils, markers (or use a desktop printer)
Scissors, glue.

Instructions -
This one requires the most skill if you want it to look authentic. I happen to have training in Photoshop and Illustrator so I’m good to go. But that really doesn’t matter. As far as I’m concerned, anything that takes your thought and your time will be looked upon wonderfully by your loved one, even childish scrawl.
So, pick your candy bar. Probably something the shape of a Hershey Bar to make life easy, but if you want to attack a Toblerone be my guest. Measure and cut your piece of paper to size, then write a nice message with a catchy headline.

A few ideas –
A Giant Hershey’s Kiss – COULD I GIVE YOU A KISS?
Any candy bar – I’M SWEET ON YOU

Those ones just popped into my head, they are lame. And they are based around Valentine’s Day, but this could work for a birthday or any other occasion. So, there you have it. 5 great cards, cheap as can be and full of thought and personality. I guarantee any one of these will make you look like a superstar. Have fun with them!

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