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Send good wishes, not your retirement fund

By on November 9, 2007

photo by laurenatclemson
I’m not a total cheapskate, but I rarely purchase greeting cards. I am tempted on special occasions, but I resist. Looking through the card aisles, all I can think about is what I could give the recipient instead of a greeting card. I also can’t help but consider how quickly they are read and then thrown away.

It’s just not practical to waste money. I’m certain you’ve been faced with similar thoughts as you purchase a gift, the wrapping paper and then the ridiculously overpriced card. Yet we feel the gift isn’t complete without one.

My husband gave me a card for our last anniversary, and I kept it. He knows how I feel about the cost of cards, so I told him I didn’t want another card unless we were hitting a milestone anniversary, such as our 10th, 15th, etc. Not everyone is like I am. Many people look forward to some acknowledgment of a special occasion, and there are a few great alternatives that are more personalized, appreciated, sensible and frugal.

Give a book or magazine: You can tuck in a bookmark and sign that instead of a greeting card or simply tuck a note inside or add a gift tag on the outside.

Make your own: Purchase some cardstock and create your own cards. If you have children, they can draw their own artwork or clip pictures from magazines to create a collage. Make one yourself by printing it online or visiting your local craft store for card-making supplies. You can add photos, too.

Send a postcard: Postcards cost less to buy and mail. They can be from places you’ve visited or just ones that are beautiful or funny.

Give a gift card or coupon booklet: Many gift cards come with envelopes and coupon booklets. If you have computer access, you can find printable coupons.

Give a recipe card: Is there a recipe you know the recipient would enjoy? A recipe card can be easily tucked into a CD case.

Handwrite a letter: Writing an old-fashioned letter on stationery is a rarity. Include a poem or newsletter-type update of what’s been going on in your life. Visit to learn letter- and envelope-folding if you’re using paper that isn’t from a stationery set.

Give a calendar: Whether it’s personalized or not, a calendar is a gift that will be kept and is practical.

Give cash: Consider giving cash in the amount that you would have spent on the card. Visit for money-origami examples, or check your local library for “The Buck Book: All Sorts of Things to Do with a Dollar Bill — Besides Spend It” by Anne Akers Johnson (Klutz, 1993).

Candy-bar wrapper and seed packets:
Print wrappers for candy bars online at Web sites such as, or make your own garden seed packets at

Send comics: Clip a comic from a newspaper. It is a wonderful way to share a laugh and let the recipient know you are thinking of him.

Magnets: They can be found with all types of verses, phrases and quotes, and in many shapes and sizes.

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