proceed with caution · screw the status quo

A Case Against Greeting Cards

Disclaimer:  If you find true joy in purchasing and sending greeting cards, carry on!  This post was written for those who feel obligated to do so.

I’m about to say something blasphemous.

Mother’s Day is a sham.

A real holiday is one where there is no work and a huge feast involved (presents optional.)  Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) is one of those obligatory “holidays” where one feels compelled to purchase flowers, ties, and greeting cards.

Greeting cards are just wrong.

These things should be at the top of “ways to cut corners in your budget” lists.

Think about what greeting cards are.  What they truly are.

They are pieces of folded cardstock with drawings or pictures and include someone else’s written sentiments.  These pieces of decorated cardstock can run upwards of $5 per card.  The really fancy Papyrus ones run around $10.

Unless you’re writing your own heartfelt sentiments in them (most don’t,) they serve no purpose and basically just exchange a couple of hands from printing press to the recycling bin.  And when they’re mailed?  Another 40-odd cents is spent on top of the $5-10.

Look, I get it.  We were all raised with this whole card-giving politeness thing, but even I remember when greeting cards were under a $1 (granted, I’m 43…)  So now people feel compelled to continue to give them, even though we all sort of know that they’re going get tossed in a pile until the receiver does the next paper purge.

Some better uses for the same amount of money or less:

  • An actual gift.  Seriously, take that $5 and toss it on a Starbucks/Dunkin Donuts/whatever gift card.  If you want to mail it and don’t want to stick it in an envelope by its lonesome, grab a small piece of paper or a post-it note and write “thinking of you” or “avoid the turbo shot” or whatever.  That will raise more excitement than a piece of cardstock that someone will feel bad about recycling six months from now.
  • A text message.  Gifts are not necessary for everyone.  When you get to be old and crotchety like me, the meaningful gifts tend to only come from the people who know you well and love you lots.  If you want to honor someone’s birthday or an inane holiday like Mother’s Day, send a text.  There are so many emoticons and icons to choose.  You can take your own photos and create something funny with them.  (I like PicsArt, but phones are getting so fancy that your text messenger may let you edit photos.)  There’s also Facebook if you’re into sharing sentiments publically.
  • A phone call.  I wasn’t going to suggest this because I hate the telephone.  I have auditory processing issues, which make phone calls torture, but there are people in the world who love the phone and would value calls over cardstock any day of the week.
  • Electronic greeting card.  So maybe you feel compelled to send a card.  Blue Mountain lets you send fun electronic cards for free.  It will give the receiver an opportunity to view and enjoy without the added clutter.
  • Family photos.  Ok, these do cost money to print and send, but faces of loved ones are more fun to look at than a bunny doodle and a sappy poem.

If you decide to forgo greeting cards (and I encourage you to do so if you are only sending them out of obligation,) you’re going to have some family members and friends who might be pissed.  These are typically the folks who feel that you should be following social norms at all times rather than daring to question them.  These are probably the folks to whom you should send family photos or a gift that is of equivalent value as your average greeting card.  That should placate them.  (Hopefully.)

 

 

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