Does the price of holiday cards have you crossing friends off your list? At $3.50 for a Hallmark card, or $9.99 for a box of ten, have you given up on holiday greetings entirely? Think again. You don't have to.
If you didn't buy holiday cards last January at 75% off, don't worry. You can still find cards at a discount. Bargain stores like Tuesday Morning and Half Price Books sell boxes of specialty cards for half-price or cheaper. At dollar stores, look for racks of cards, or buy a set of eight for 99 cents. Goodwill also sells new cards (79 cents apiece), but it's cheaper to dig through their used selection (prices as low as 99 cents for 20 cards). Don't forget to pick up "Thank You" cards while you're browsing. You'll need them after the holidays.
If you can't find decorated holiday cards that suit you, try blank cards. At Staples, you can buy 50 all-purpose cards for $14.99. Arvey Paper also offers decorative blank cards, such as a box of 100 pearl-bordered cards for $15.99 (see www.xpedxstores.com). Decorate with stickers, stamps, or calligraphy, or let your kids illustrate them.
Do you have a photo of your growing family, a great vacation snapshot, or a picture that's worth a thousand words? At Snapfish, you can create a photo card by selecting a style, uploading your photo, and adding a personal message. Prices range from 29 cents to 75 cents apiece (including envelopes), depending on the size of your order. Or design your own photo-sized picture in a graphic program like Photoshop and order prints at Snapfish.
With colored paper, scissors, and glue, you can assemble cards that look professional. To craft cards from cardstock, cut a piece of cardstock in half and fold each piece into cards. Cut a slightly smaller piece of holiday stationary and glue it to the front. Write or print a message on a small white rectangle and glue on top. Decorate with glitter, ribbons, stickers, or stamps. Pop-up cards can also be surprisingly easy. Fold a piece of cardstock in half and cut two slits across the fold. Open the card and pull the cut piece towards you to create the pop-up. Write a message on the pop-up piece, or glue a decoration on top.
If you have a computer, you can design your own holiday cards. Staples sells kits of 50 printable blank cards and envelopes, including design software. Even cheaper, create your own card in Microsoft Word. Open a blank page and insert a cover picture from clip art or the Internet. Place the picture in the top left corner and flip it upside-down (or flip it in a graphic program before you insert it). Then create a text box in the bottom right corner and type your message, such as a poem, a scripture, or a simple "Season's Greetings." Print it, fold it horizontally, and fold it vertically to put the picture on the front of the card, with the message inside. Use nice paper with matching envelopes, such as the $16.19 ream of parchment from Arvey with 250 matching envelopes for $21.99.
Alternatively, send a family letter instead of a card. Print it on holiday stationary, fold it in thirds, seal it with a sticker, and attach a stamp. You don't even need an envelope.
If postage is prohibitive, why not send postcards? Design your own postcards at www.snapfish.com for as little as 75 cents apiece, print your own from a Staples set of 200 for $21.99, stick your stamp on the back of a photo, or decorate blank index cards. Almost any kind of paper can be mailed as a postcard, as long as it's between the dimensions of 3.5x5 and 4.25x6 inches, is turned so the length is parallel to the address (landscape orientation), and has a legible address.
For an even better deal, skip the postage entirely and send an e-card. Sites like www.bluemountain.com and www.greeting-cards.com offer hundreds of cute, customizable cards for all occasions. Best of all, they're free.
Cards don't have to be fancy or expensive. No matter what you send, your friends will appreciate hearing from you (one card-maker points out that most people would rather have a personal note than any card at all). So don't let the cost of cards keep you from wishing your friends a happy holiday. Send inexpensive cards to everybody on your list and keep the rest of your money where it belongs-in your pocket.
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