My mom is a card person. She loves giving them, receiving them, displaying them.  She just loves everything about them.  She’s the only person I know who still sends postcards when she goes on vacation.  (I generally send my parents and my in-laws postcards when we travel, mostly because I picked up the habit from my mom.)

I recently received a Halloween card from my mom.  Yes; Halloween, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, obviously Christmas and birthdays.  My mom sends a card for everything.  On the one hand, I get the appeal—it really does make you feel special that the person made the effort to write you a card and mail it.  On the other hand, cards can be expensive and then you have to pay postage on top of it.  That’s a lot of money on something that will probably get thrown away within a week.

At the last few birthday parties we have been to, we have omitted the birthday card.  Even the kids’ party last week.  Kids hate them anyway, unless they have money.

I read an article recently that had such a great idea, it blew my mind.  The author suggested rather than send a card, that $5 might be better spent buying them a coffee—send them a $5 Starbucks gift card (or e-gift, if you’re not going to see them in person).  Or maybe something else, if they’re not that into Starbucks.  A friend of mine recently “donated” their birthday to a charity for Puerto Rico, so I donated $5 to the cause.  Give them the gift of music—a month of commercial-free Pandora or an iTunes gift card.  Give them a Panera or Subway gift card and buy them a sandwich.  If you can’t think of anything else, everyone needs groceries and gas—who couldn’t use a couple gallons of gas or a couple bucks off their grocery bill?  The $5 you were going to spend on a greeting card now provides much more value to the recipient.

If you were going to give a gift in addition to a card, maybe you consider the money you’re not spending on a card and just add $5 to your budget for the gift you were going to give.  Maybe then you could afford to get that thing that was slightly out of the budget you had in mind for the occasion, rather than just stretching your budget because you “know they’ll love it.”

That being said, I will always accept a card in the loving spirit in which it was sent.  This idea may not work for everyone—my mom, for example, probably wouldn’t feel very good about not getting a birthday or Christmas card. Between Thanksgiving and New Year, she proudly displays all the Christmas cards she’s received—the beautiful, sparkly cards double as decorations and it really brings her joy.  It makes her feel loved and valued to see that all these people made the effort to buy, write and send a card.  I always make sure to get a particularly beautiful Christmas card for my parents for this reason.  Plus, I don’t think she’s ever had Starbucks in her life, besides the one time I took her about 5 years ago for buy one get one Frappuccinos.  It’s all about determining what will provide value to the person you’re giving the gift to.

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