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Friday, February 12, 2010

Are Homemade Valentine's Day Cards Frugal?

I was my usual nosy self at the grocery yesterday. I love to inspect people's shopping carts--surreptitiously, of course. The woman in front of me didn't have too much. Then I saw the cards: 18 Valentine's Day cards at $1.99 a piece.

She explained to the cashier that they were for her grandchildren and other relatives.

As is usual with me, this brought me down memory lane. I spent many happy hours making Valentine's Day cards with my children. Red paper, doilies, glue, glitter. There is a rule in many schools that children must bring a card for every child, so this activity was quite time-consuming.

Even at the time I knew that this was not the cheap way to go. You can buy packs of little cards (conveniently containing 30 cards, enough for your whole class) for about $1.00. If you are a frugalista who plans ahead, you can buy these for NEXT year at the post-Valentine's Day clearance, sometimes for a mere 10 cents a pack.

Needless to say, this activity takes more time AND money than the homemade route. Yet we did it every year. There's been so much around the blogosphere of late about outsourcing to save time and money. I suppose you could outsource making cards to your nanny (tongue-in-cheek here). Or just buy the cheapies, as most do. I'm going to have to ask my children if they remember making the cards. They might not!

As for the woman in the checkout line. I remember a reader anecdote in one of the Tightwad Gazette books. The writer recounted being horrified by the cost of greeting cards. So she sent each of her grandchildren a homemade card with a few dollars folded in. Needless to say, this strategy elicited an ecstatic response from the grandchildren. Perhaps it became a tradition.

Happy Early Valentine's Day, dear Readers.


Apron Thrift Girl said...

I am one of those thrifters that tends to pick up blank greeting cards when I see them at yard sales. More times than not though the children take a water color painting, fold it in half and write some endearing words to their grandparents.

Duchesse said...

I've done both. Sometimes I see a beautiful or interest.

But if I know or have a good idea it will be chucked, I will write a note on a notecard and use my large collection of cool rubber stamps.

Really dislike e-cards, though. Find them soulless.

Duchesse said...

Oops, my comment was cut off: "beautiful or interesting card."

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

My dad was a printing ink salesman. One of the things we always got free was greeting cards (also wrapping paper and lots of paperback books).

I remember we had to cut them out individually. I think he got the big proof sheets for free.

Funny about Money said...

Well, now, remember that woman who went on at smug length on GRS about outsourcing her life was sending her scutwork to the Philippines. If you had your Filipina VA make the cards at $3 an hour and ordered up the makings from, say, Thailand, you probably could get the job done for less than 10 cents a card. ;-)

And couldn't you create some pretty inexpensive kid-art cards by having the kids download some holiday art, design, a card, & print it out on card stock (bought in bulk at an office supply store), and then affixing some glitter to the result with some hair spray or spray fixatif?

I like the water-color painting idea... Along those lines, could you scan some favorite kid art and print that out in enough copies to go around? I can't believe that would cost $2.00 a card, and even a printout of something hand-made would be more meaningful than a piece of Hallmark kitsch. Wouldn't you think?

Revanche said...

I've had a stash of cardstock left over from wedding related stuff two years ago and wanted to either give them away or do something constructive with them.

This year, as I don't use my printer tons and I like to keep the ink flowing a little bit, I printed up some Valentine's cards and sent them out. Since the cardstock was a sunk cost anyway (~$10/100 cards, only used 15 of them), I'm just using stamps and ink that's going to dry up and go to waste otherwise.

If I can find nice simple designs, I'd like to continue to use these for upcoming birthdays and such.

Revanche said...

P.S. I generally avoid the glitter because I've been the recipient of glitter bombs before, and am still picking glitter off the carpet and out of my chair months later. :P

Shelley said...

I mentioned Valentine's Day coming up to Bill and said I was wondering if I should get him a card or something. He said, "Oh, I would hate that -- it's so commercial". So we decided we would just go into town and watch the Chinese New Year celebrations. Turns out we're both down with a bug and can't be bothered, but we did go for a walk on the beach and then came home to a piece of apple pie and a cup of tea. Valentine's Day isn't a big deal here in Britain at all. Oh, and I wrote a blog post about his new RED (Valentine red?) car...

If you care enough to make something for someone, it's probably one of those things where frugality isn't as important as the gift.

EEE said...

Hand-made cards are so charming, and I think making things with your children- when it would be easier to buy them- instills important values (of creativity, etc.)

Frugal Scholar said...

@Apron--Thanks for the comment! Your story brings back memories of my kids' younger days.

@Duchesse--You know, I have a box of rubber tamps residing in the attic. I think I'll bring them down. Not just for kids--what a good idea. I'm sure your cards are always thoughtful anyway.

@Cubicle--Similarly--my dad's office was in a building that also housed a card manufacturer. When said company moved, boxes of greeting cars were left behind--several of which were retrieved by my frugal dad. Fond memories.

@Funny--Wonderful idea. I asked my daughter if she remembered making cards. She does. Then she reminded me that we make decoupage cards from catalogs and magazines. I have no recollection...

@Revanche--There are so many near rubber stamps around. As I mention above, I have a lot that I bought for my kids--I'm going to retrieve them from storage and use them myself!

Ergh--you're right about the glitter. NO GLITTER.

@Shelley--I loved your red car post--sorry I meant to leave a comment.

@EEEEE--We think alike once more.