my thoughts on greeting cards

livinglagom.com - my thoughts on greeting cardsI have a love/hate relationship when it comes to greeting cards.

I love the pretty designs, but hate the waste they produce.

I’ve received and given many cards in my life, so it’s something that I’ve had some time to think about.

No matter how beautiful a card, no matter how funny or poetic the copywriting – as with people – it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

And I’m not talking about the 50 bucks from my granny. (But thanks avó!)

a monkey wrench in my minimalist works

In September, I spent quite a bit of time digitizing my paperwork. I had already purged some of the greeting cards that I had kept throughout the years, but I decided to take another (harsher) look.

I noticed that most people just sign their name or write a simple greeting. Very few people actually take the time to write something more significant. Not that an “I love you” or “best wishes” are insignificant, but I don’t need to hold onto a card for eternity to know that. I already know.

So I decided to recycle the cards that only contained these simple words. But I faced a conundrum (don’t you love that word?): What about the cards that did contain more thought? And what about the cards from my mom? (My dad wasn’t a card man.)

Minimalism philosophy would dictate that I also didn’t need these words to know how someone feels about me.

In this case, I say screw minimalism!

I’m never going to get another card from my mom. I was willing to let go of her things, but I wasn’t willing to let go of her words.

My mom spent a lot of time picking out the perfect card. She would always choose sentimental ones and fill them with loving words of her own. I used to joke with her that just once, I wanted a funny card.

My mom passed away around my birthday. I remember her partner telling me that she had put aside my birthday money, but that she hadn’t had the chance to get me a card.

I never wanted a card more in my life.

This is not to say that I’m going to hold onto cards out of fear that someone may not be with me one day. But every now and again, when I get a truly special card, I will honor it – even if it’s just in digital form.

a minimalist solution to giving greeting cards

Even though I appreciate the effort when someone gets me a card and I cherish those from my mom, I’ve never really been into giving cards. I’m actually one of those people who just writes a simple word or two.

So I try to avoid cards entirely. If I’m giving someone a gift, I’ve taken to using paper bags and writing whom it’s for decoratively on the bag.

But there are certain times when a card is necessary. Take a wedding for example. I’m pretty sure the bride and groom would be surprised if I slipped them some cash in the receiving line.

My solution? Mini cards!

In order to decrease waste, I’ve started purchasing 3 x 5 blank response cards with envelopes. You can get these in stationery shops. They come in all different colors and can normally be purchased for under a dollar. I only wish I could find ones made from recycled paper.

I then draw something on the front of the card and write a little message on the back. I enjoy drawing, so this lets me express myself while giving someone a customized card.

If you aren’t into drawing, you could use a stamp or sticker. If you have a child, they could do a drawing on the front. Just use whatever supplies you have around the house – no need for a separate craft room.

This is my solution when a card is required.

I think it goes without saying that I won’t be mailing out greeting cards with me in a reindeer sweater this holiday season. It will definitely be an e-card. ;)

What are your thoughts on greeting cards?

35 thoughts on “my thoughts on greeting cards

  1. Caitlin

    It was a big deal when I tossed my old cards. I had some from my grandma who died several years ago, but I found that I remember her words anyway (“Sorry this is late, my brain chip is fried. I do need a new one.”) from the cards and from being with her, and I didn’t need a physical reminder of it to remember how great she was or how much I loved her. Also, my parents are the “Love, mom” and “Love, dad” sorts of card-writers, so those weren’t as big a deal. I had saved cards since I was very young and it was sort of a relief to let them go!

  2. Tammy R

    I love this idea and so appreciate this post. Erin linked to this in her recent email, and when I saw the title I had to read it. When I talk to my mom every Sunday night (which can be a very long conversation because we live 1,800 miles apart), I clean out closets. Last night, I came across a whole toolbox full of greeting cards from my husband. While I weep for the trees, I cannot part with any of them. What a great idea to subsitute pre-made cards for mini cards (if you have to send cards at all). I love it and will pass this idea on.

  3. living lagom Post author

    I was also relieved to get rid of some of my random cards. It makes me wonder why I’d kept them for so long. But my mama’s cards I’m keeping!

  4. living lagom Post author

    If you and I are ready one day to let go of those cards, then great. I think it’s important that we don’t just get rid of them because that’s what the minimalism police would tell us to do.

    I’m glad you like the idea! It’s fun to work on the cards too!

  5. Rebecca

    I too have had to say s*#@w minimalism when it comes to cards as well. I recently came across some cards from deceased relatives and have decided for now to hang on to them. Yes some may see it as clutter but, I see it as memories very good ones along with this is the last thing I received from them before they either passed on or before they could no longer write due to strokes etc.

    Most folks will be getting ecards at least those that have email access but, my dad and a few others who do not have a computer well they get paper. Found some recycled paper ones and then found some hemp paper ones as I was going through things.

  6. Bethany@OurSoCalledLife

    You know, it really is OK to keep some sentimental things. Being intentional just means getting rid of the generic stuff, so that there’s more room for the thoughtful ones. :-)

    I used to send photos as post cards. That was always a fun way to send snail mail/cards without creating waste!

  7. markadamdouglass

    I almost never give greeting cards.

    I only give them if I have something long I would like to write.

    Otherwise I just share my thoughts verbally.

  8. Mopsa

    Hi Sandra! I have no specific thoughts to share regarding greeting cards. But I completely understand you wanting to keep your mother’s cards. I’m currently decluttering my possessions and I’ve decided to keep a box of more sentimental stuff – and I don’t feel guilty at all.
    And… I couldn’t help but notice that you called your grandmother ‘avó’! Is your grandmother Portuguese? (Yes, I’m Portuguese :P)

  9. living lagom Post author

    I think I’m like the majority of guys when it comes to cards – I just don’t see the point. But then when I get a meaningful one, I treasure it.

  10. Megan

    I like sending postcards in place of greeting cards because there’s no envelope and a postcard is half the size of a regular card so it feels less wasteful. Plus, with postcards there’s rarely a pre-written greeting so I have to write something more personal, which I like.

    Before I recycle my old cards, I see if I can salvage the front to reuse as a postcard. Less waste and cheaper too!

  11. living lagom Post author

    My grandmothers, my grandfathers, my mother, my father, my sister and me! :) Well, I was born in Canada, but my background is Portuguese. I speak it, but not very well. My family is from Sao Miguel and Graciosa – no one is ever from Graciosa. Surprise me and tell me that you are!

  12. aliopa

    Lol. Yay! (I don’t know why I’m always so happy to find Portuguese people in unexpected places :P).
    I’m not going to be the exception… I live near Aveiro. Actually one of my best friends is from Azores – but from Faial.
    Muito bem! E agora para testar o teu português vou escrever o final do comentário em… Português!
    Pois… Mas eu na verdade não tenho nada de muito mais útil para dizer… Mas vou-me estender um pouco para as outras pessoas pensarem que estou a dizer coisas muito importantes numa língua estrangeira.
    Ok, já chega!
    Beijinhos e até um dia destes!

  13. Kerry- The Simple Year

    I have a slightly different take on it, I have always loved opening cards and letters even if it is just a signed word or two. There is something so intimate about the tactile experience of holding the words written by hand specifically for me by someone who cared enough to pen them. I don’t keep them all, but I try to keep the important ones. I also like to send cards, although this year I’m not buying anything new, so as my card stash ran out I switched to writing letters (of which I write fewer) which has been a nice change and I’ve even gotten a few in reply.

  14. Angie

    My hobby is card making. Ive been struggling a lot with this lately – because of the waste / the environmental impact and the space all the ‘stuff’ I use to create them takes up. The thing is though, I really love creating them. I have other creative outlets but none give me the joy that card making does. My friends and family tell me they absolutely love getting them in the mail amongst the bills and flyers. So I continue.

    I’ve decided now though, that because my local thrift shop has so many cards and envelopes for sale (only 10 cents a piece) I’m going to start investing in cutting dies so that I can reuse them to cut out different designs from old cards and magazines and incorporate them into my cards. It isn’t the perfect solution but I can live with it for now.

  15. living lagom Post author

    We all do things that aren’t so eco-friendly, unless we happen to be perfect. I may find cards wasteful, but then I like to travel, which is VERY wasteful. I guess we just need to make conscious choices and do the best with those things we aren’t willing to give up.

  16. barefootbodhi

    I did the holiday card thing once. I was trying desperately to be a good wife and do good wife holiday things. But that’s not what the holidays are really about and I did finally have to face that. Now I can make my own holiday traditions. My mom and I are planning on swapping small token gifts and then spending time together drinking tea and maybe making decorated cookies on Christmas. No cards needed.

    I do have one card that I kept for a long time. It’s blank. I bought it for my boyfriend (now ex-husband) for his birthday because I thought it was perfect. Well, it was; my mom got him the same one and gave it to him earlier! I just got rid of it last month when I was cleaning out my storage locker.

  17. living lagom Post author

    I did the holiday card thing once too and then decided it wasn’t my bag of tea. Speaking of tea, I think that’s a lovely thing to do with your mom. Definitely special.

  18. barefootbodhi

    Actually, the tea thing is already kind of a tradition. We were not allowed to open presents until everyone was up and Mom wouldn’t get up until someone made her a cup of tea.

  19. nolaflowerchild

    I have always done christmas cards, and this year decided to stop. They were expensive – I had custom cards made for my business, and they seem wasteful. I figured that no one would really notice, but I had a friend ask me if I had done my cards yet, and how she always looked forward to my zen version of a christmas card!

    But I plan to send out an e-blast instead, and save a tree.

  20. Koliti

    It’s good to re-examine the things you do and from time to time and “tweak” them if they need tweaking and to enjoy them if they continue to bring you joy. By all means, keep your mom’s cards – they are a “scrapbook” of your life – create a beautiful way to display them.

    I love that you are creating art when you send out your sentiments now.
    Just FYI – for items that are outside of “standard envelope size”, you may be required to pay extra postage.
    At the post office you can ask them for a template so you will know if your item is in range or not. (or maybe they have a downloadable version on their website?)

  21. living lagom Post author

    Good advice! I normally hand deliver my cards instead of mailing them. But I did mail the Happy Holidays card above to a friend. I used a regular stamp and it got there fine. I think if you just send the card as a postcard, it might be cheaper.

  22. Stina

    I’m in the beginning of my decluttering so I haven’t thought about cards yet. I save them all for now. And I like to get and give cards. Most of them I create myself. It was a really good idea as someone wrote to reuse parts of cards!

    I’m usually one of those who just write love or hugs or something simple like that. My aunt always write more personal and I really enjoy it. But I have never tried it myself. But I did it this year on the Christmas cards thanks to your blogpost!

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