Frugal Living 

Make Your Own Hallmark Cards

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It’s the thought that counts.

No truer is this line than in the world of Hallmark cards because those babies are expensive. The paradox of Hallmark cards is that you’re trying to be thoughtful but you’re sending something that’s been printed for mass consumption! Please don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Hallmark or special occasion/greeting cards in general, other than the price, and I feel that sending one beats not sending one; but if you want to stand out, you can do something unique at a fraction of the price.

Hand-written Note

At the core of any relationship is communication and when you’re sending a card, you’re really trying to communicate some feeling. It could be celebratory, as in a birthday or an anniversary; it could be condolences after the loss of a loved one; or it could just be a quick pick-me-up, as is the case with “get well soon” cards. Whatever the reason, a hand-written note beats a card hands down. It doesn’t have to be long, it doesn’t have to be on fancy paper (though you can get a sheet from a crafts store for the fraction of a card), it just has to come from the heart. As we move from polished commercialism towards authenticity, handwritten notes are going to become more popular. When was the last time you sent or received a handwritten letter? Probably a while.

Remembrance Cards

The simplest type of card is one where you evoke happy memories. The easiest way to do this is to print out a few photos from great memories, writing a few words about that memory, and including them in a nice card. Let’s take it one step further. If you have the photos on your computer, why not try a hand at making them a look older? Once you get over the fact that digital prints can’t fade or pick up watermarks, use Photoshop to make your photos look older than before. This tutorial will explain how to fade the photo, add watermarks (like rings where someone set a cup down on the photo!), add “natural” looking scratches and smudges. It will take some time to do the Photoshop, but it’s a great way to make a memorable card.

Craft Cards

Thank back to when you were a kid and the cards you would make for your parents (if you’re a parent and your kids are around that age, think of those cards). If you don’t remember and don’t have kids, walk around your office and look on the cubicle or office walls because those Valentine’s are probably still up. They’re not professional, they’re not polished, but they’re cute because they’re full of emotion and love. Chances are they cost far less than the typical $4.99 greeting card and they are unique. You can get as creative as you want with them, adding all sorts of props, papers, and patterns. One little trick I learned, if you want to make it a card look like it was made by a child, use your non-dominant hand to write or cut. 🙂

Don’t Limit Yourself to a Card

If you take nothing else from this post, take this: It doesn’t have to actually be a card. The first suggestion was a note, the third was to tune into your arts & crafts vibe to create something unique and special. Cards are merely the simplest idea out there, your imagination can probably produce a multitude of ideas that would make a $4.99 card seem boring. If you’re tech savvy, go the tech route – get a video camera and send a video message you can post online for them to watch. There is no limit to your creativity so don’t limit yourself to a card!

Do you have any creative alternatives to Hallmark cards?

(Photo: rakka, lammypatrick_q, Liquid Paper)

{ 13 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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13 Responses to “Make Your Own Hallmark Cards”

  1. Jim,

    Great article! My wife and I homeschool our kids. I am putting this on the calender for next week’s art lesson. We have lots of birthdays coming up so this will be a great lesson to save money and even more important to teach being thoughtful.

    God Bless,

    Matt Sullivan

  2. Or you could buy our cards. My 14-year-old sister draws them, and I handle the business end. So far our cards are mostly flower cards, but in the future she plans to draw others also. You can visit us at Thanks!

  3. John says:

    I have always thought that custom cards are more personal than the store bought cards. Problem is I have just been too lazy or I run out of time to actually make the card!

  4. Patrick says:

    Great idea Jim. Hallmark cards suck and are really expensive. I would just add that you can also used recycled materials like extra construction paper around your house or cereal boxes. It can bring down the cost of making the card even further and you are reusing materials.

  5. Ethan says:

    My wife has a bunch of card materials…. blank cards with different colors. Stick on additions for different occasions. Makes it easy to put a card together. Not sure how they compare to Hallmark prices.

  6. Eleanor says:

    When you said remembrance card, you reminded me of cards my brother and I created recently. Our Mother, a free spirited artist, passed away Jan 24. While she was in hospice we were clearing out her apt, and came across two remaining note cards from a printing she’d done with one of her pen sketches of a cat. With the two note cards were plenty of white cardstock with envelopes. A co-worker printed the notecards on the cardstock we found, and we have free, personal notes for sympathy acknowledgements. The best part is that the notes cards are a reflection of my Mom’s spirit, and not the standard acknowledgement notes.

  7. I’m a scrapbooker and always make my own cards. I enjoy it and the homemade cards make the recipients feel special. It certainly saves a lot of money too!

  8. Daniel says:

    Anyone in my family who receives a gift from me, is well aware that there will be NO card attached. I am of the opinion that greeting cards are one of the biggest wastes of money out there. They are opened, glanced on for seconds, and then discarded. Ok, maybe it will sit on a shelve on display for a week or two – but I stand by my opinion that they are a complete ripoff. If you are the type of person who writes a small novel on the interior of a greeting card, then fine, there may be some value to it, as that person is likely to hold onto your card longer, maybe indefinitely. But for those of you who do nothing more than sign the bottom of a card with “Love, xxx” – you might as well just like $3.99 on fire and drop it in the toilet.

    With that said – I like the idea of making your own greeting card. It’s more personal for the recipient and costs far less for the buyer.

  9. Donna says:

    I like Hallmark cards. Some are incredibly beautiful. Some are not worth the price, but some are little works of art.

    That said, I like to also make my own cards. Depends on the situation.

  10. josie says:

    i love hallmark cards i can get them for anybody in my family

  11. rija zaki says:

    I love Hallmarks. They are the best cards!

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