Thursday, August 23, 2007

Greeting card etiquette

The birthday banner post brought out one of my favorite frugal points:

It is ALWAYS correct to send a handwritten note instead of a greeting card.

Greeting cards (of any price) are fine, so long as they are appropriate to the occasion AND include your own note. Check Amy Vanderbiltfor a second opinion! But, really, greeting cards are mass produced to mimic personal communication, a warmth you can get for free with 5 minutes and a simple piece of paper.

I love it when the frugal option is also the most exclusive! According to my favorite Miss Manner's Guide To Painfully Proper Weddings,a bride whose mother handwrites her wedding invitations is more elegant (and correct) than the bride who has a fancy card 3-fold card custom-printed. Engraving developed as the only suitable alternative to handwriting formal invitations.

When Hallmark sets the cultural gold standard, sometimes you can't convince everyone. I pick the decent cards from Dollar General's 50-cent rack for my card-loving relatives. Dollar Tree stores have a similar selection.

Don't despair! While everyone else hits Walgreens, we can acquire their old stationery for pennies. Most of my blank notes come from yard sales and thrift stores. The Cranecorrespondence cards (above) cost 99 cents for 14 at Southern Thrift.

From the archives:
Greeting Card Organizer
Mismatched Christmas Cards
The Sparrow Post Family Mailbox
Children's Thank You Notes
Photo Of The Week Notes For Grandparents


AmyG said...

Beautiful, as always!

What are your thoughts on all this stamp-art card making craziness?
I like it sometimes, but the supplies!!! NOT frugal...unless aquired at rummage sales or some such.


Mama Squirrel said...

On the other hand...if you're debating card/note to someone who loves to display all the cards they get--or especially if they're only going to get a couple--they might appreciate getting the card more (but especially if there's a note in it too). A note you have to keep going back to read every time you want to enjoy it, but a pretty card can get propped up or stuck up where a quick glance at it will brighten someone's day.

Just a thought.

Cyndi Lewis said...

Have you read Gift of a Letter by Alexandra Stoddard? It falls "write" (pun intended)in line with this topic.

Cyndi L.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I'm in agreement about the handwritten note. I like to buy funny birthday cards, but all other correspondence is handwritten. Apparently, it's pretty rare for some people to receive that sort of thing because I get so many appreciative comments on my notes.

I don't care what Miss Manners says about wedding invitations, though. I would never have expected my mother to handwrite my invitations (talk about a hand cramp!), nor did I have the budget to waste on engraved invitations. I think it's the rare person these days who would judge a family based on whether or not the wedding invitations were engraved or printed. ;-)

I'm one of those who hand stamps greeting cards (you can see my latest creation here:, and it can be an expensive hobby. However, I make a lot of my cards to give as gifts (my friends and mother LOVE receiving a pile of homemade cards to use), and I usually buy my supplies only on sale. For example, I went to Joann's yesterday to buy some cards in earth tones for making gifts for a particular friend. The cards, envelopes, and the new ink I purchased were all 40% off. It's not a terribly expensive hobby as long as you build up your crafting supplies over time. If you buy it all at once, it's unaffordable.

Betty Canuck said...

I have an Aunt who worked at a Card Factory. I was blessed with enough cards from her to last me... 400 years or so.

And you know what? I sit there and make cards rather than give the cards from her.

What do I do now? I've taken to making up 'card organizers' full of blank cards for bridal showers. I'll gather a nice selection of cards from my Aunt's collection, a nice box and some paper from my scrapbooking supplies. (Incidentally I use my Scrapbook stuff for everything but Scrapbooking). Then I cut down file folders to make dividers and make up a box or basket of cards for the couple.

A few condolence, birth congratulation, wedding, anniversary, lots of birthday for both genders, thinking of you, get well, blank, extra envelopes. A section for stamps. All in a nice contained spot.

Makes a nice gift with a little time.

As for me, you'll either get a home-made card or nothing. I'm terrible that way! But I seem to fit in with the rest of the family. At least you will get a phone call from me!

Anonymous said...

Ewokgirl, I offered the Miss Manners tidbit as a point of reference. Few brides or mothers have the time and talent to handwrite wedding invitations.

I do think beautiful penmanship is a wonderful cottage industry, one that would be well worth teaching our daughters.

I had my wedding invitations engraved. I would probably thermograph if I were doing it again. I felt rebellious enough not enclosing RSVP cards with envelopes (another etiquette no no, says Miss Manners).

Anonymous said...

Almost always appropriate...

When my mom first married, she would send my father's aunt nice handwritten notes telling her all about what they were up to. One time Aunt Alice finally asked her why she couldn't just send a nice Hallmark card instead of all those letters.

Sometimes, and I know you know this, you just can't win.

Anonymous said...

I'm a card-making gal, too. And yes, stamping supplies can be expensive if you buy all at once. However, I'm also enjoying making these beautiful, frugal, handmade cards that Monica showed us.

My MIL says for many of the handmade thank you cards she sends, she gets back a thank you note for the beautiful thank you note! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. This is especially good when you're remembering an occasion at the last minute. You don't have to find time and energy to run out and get a card if you already have stationery around.

Anne Marie@Married to the Empire said...

I didn't enclose those little reply cards either. And you know what's interesting? The only person who did the proper thing by sending a handwritten note with her regrets was the mother of a friend. This same mother insisted that her daughter's invitations be engraved. Just found it interesting. It all seems to be old etiquette rules that are becoming forgotten. Usually that bothers me, but not this time.

I do think it's a shame that the handwritten note, in general, is becoming a rare thing, though. These days, I rarely receive handwritten notes, including thank-you notes, which is a shame. I would say that I don't understand that, but as is evidenced in my husband's own family, it's just not necessarily being taught. No one in DH's family writes thank-you notes. Ever. I have to physically hand my husband a card and a pen and tell him to write his thank yous because he was not brought up doing so.

Anonymous said...

One of my freebies cards that I got from Hallmark. I sent to my Grandma to just say hello. My friend Lisa is a card freak. She sends cards for everything.

Amy said...

I love this reminder. I just sent a note to a friend and adore receiving them too. There is something about the handwritten word and the effort that it takes, particularly in such a technical age.

Mimi said...

I do receive many handwritten notes from friends and family, even if some of them are jotted underneath the verse on a ready-made card. I always remember the hand-written comments more than the verse a card writer dreamed up. It seems more from the heart to me.

Having said that, there are a few people who really do panic at the thought of trying to come up with a written sentiment that expresses how they feel. Sometimes, they are shy and awkward in general. Being able to choose a card with a verse on it can be a help for someone who finds themselves with this kind of writer's block.

As you can see from my rambling comments, I'm seldom at a loss for words. But, if I do have a hard time thinking of something to say, I remember something I read one time: All you have to do is come up with three sentences. One way to come up with three sentences is to organize them this way: Write one that sort of introduces your thoughts, one that is the heart of what you want to say, and one that sums up your thoughts. If that's all you can put together, it's still something that is very special to people.