Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Getting creative - Making my own greeting cards

Last fall, we got a thank you note from a friend.  He had made it himself using an old map for the exterior and a "thank you" ink stamp.  I loved it, not only because he had made it, but because it meant that this peice of paper was re-used before it was recycled or worse - tossed. He was being thoughtful not only to us, but to the environment as well. 

Later on in early winter as I was writing out all our holiday cards, I got thinking about that thank you card. Between birthdays, anniversaries, mother's day, fathers's day, christmas, etc (keep in mind Dave and I have 23 neices and nephews between us), we were purchasing more than 100 cards each year (I won't even go into how much that costs, you can imagine). And we're not talking gifts or stamps - just cards. Cards that people look at once or twice, say "that's nice," put on the shelf for a couple days, and toss. There's just something wrong with that.

Now, I'm no artist or anything, but I was thinking I could probably do this myself. So in December and January, I hunted deals on eBay and Craigslist for used card making supplies. My total investment?  I spent $25 for things like glue, stamp pad, message stamps, and some paper punches (retail would have been closer to $100). 

I still have a stack of cards in a drawer so we continue to mail some commercially-made cards while we have them (actually this works out nicely so that I can build my supply of homemade ones), but I immediately began to hoard all the freebie resources I could find:
  • colored paper and envelopes that come through the mail
  • calendars - Dave came home last week with 4 old calendars full of pictures from which I made some gorgeous cards
  • recycle bin goodies - I dig through the recycle bins at work looking for discarded colored paper (as discreetly as possible - the people there think I'm weird enough as it is)
  • old maps
  • catalogs or pictures from magazines
  • used wrapping paper (yep, there was a reason I unwrapped my gifts annoyingly slow)
  • torn gift bags (for when you too embarrassed to use them one last time)
  • stickers (we keep getting free disney stickers in the mail - not sure why, but I can sure use them!)
I now have a cabinet full of this stuff!  So anytime I need to send cards out (like Mother's day this past weekend), I just whip something up. Sometimes, it's just a simple, "Happy Birthday." Other times, I get a little creative with the poems (I get this from my dad. I've always loved writing silly poems and limericks) - whatever inspires me at the moment. 

Hopefully, our families think it's sweet that we take the time to make something homemade and aren't rolling their eyes at how cheap we are.  Even so, each card is made with love and we hope it is received that way.  I just feel good having a bit of a creative outlet, not to mention giving that junk mail a chance to redeem itself.  It's amazingly simple, totally green, and completely frugal.

P.S. If you have little ones, have them make cards (a little child labor never hurt anyone, right?). Everyone loves cards from kids!


Erikka said...

Hi Heather.

Don't know you or your blog, yet, but I saw in a comment you left that you read Joel Salatin's book. Which means you must have also read Omnivore's Dilemma (?) because otherwise, how would you know of that farm?

If there is some other way, please tell because I am FASCINATED with that farm and have ordered all his books.


CindyW said...

Good point.

We went to a neighbor boy's birthday party (a neighbor directly across the street). After the party, I told the mom that she did not need to give us a thank-you card because, just because we don't need it.

Yesterday I found a thank-you card in our mailbox. I sighed and threw it into the recycling bin. I understand her appreciation, but I told her not to give me a card.

Perhaps people simply cannot fathom not giving thank-you cards. Your suggestion is better: use reused material for creative thank-you card.

One other thing: we live close to a branch of USGS, which gives out their obsolete topo maps every year. We use the maps as gift wrappers, often a hit with kids :)

Heather said...

Erikka - What kind of info are you looking for? I posted some links on the blog at:

Cindy - I bet those maps make great cards! I'm always keeping my eye out for stuff like that. Sometimes a thank you can be unnecessary and I often I just send a thank you e-mail, but I've found grandparents just LOVE cards and letters so I've kept it up for them and Dave and my parents.

paul profitt said...

Great stuff.
I just found your blog and love it.
Look forward to reading more.