With Thanksgiving behind us, many consumers are looking ahead to Hanukkah and Christmas, a season that for many people includes the annual ritual of exchanging holiday cards. The Greeting Card Association reports that Americans purchase 6.5 billion greeting cards each year, and Christmas cards account for a big chunk of that (1.6 billion). With prices from anywhere from 50 cents to several dollars apiece, here’s a look at ways to trim your holiday greeting card costs.
Go digital. I like the tangibility of a handwritten note, a pretty picture and a holiday stamp, plus the fact that we so rarely send snail mail at other times of the year. But if you’re short on time or money, e-cards could be your best bet. Add photos or video to make your digital greeting more personal.
Search for promo codes. This time of year, custom photo and greeting card sites offer deals galore. Never check out without first looking for a coupon code that will get you free shipping or a discount on your order. Try RetailMeNot or DealsPlus. Also look at cash-back websites like CouponCabin, Ebates and BeFrugal.com, where you can combine promo codes (usually just from that website) with cash back at many big-name retailers. I ordered this year’s holiday cards for about 50 cents each using a promo code for 50 percent off.
Avoid paying for extra postage. If you plan to mail your cards, remember to consider postage costs. A few years ago, I bought several books of holiday forever stamps that I’m still using up. Square cards look cool, but they cost more than a regular stamp to mail because they’re not a standard size. If cost is a consideration, stick to rectangular cards and avoid bulky ribbons and doodads that up your mailing costs.
Look at unexpected sources. You don’t have to order custom greeting cards with your family’s photo. Preprinted greeting cards can cost less and work just as well as their fancier counterparts. Check warehouse clubs, drugstores, dollar stores or even garage sales for affordable greeting cards. The best part is that when these cards don’t have a photo or the year printed on them, you can use any leftovers in the future.
Make your own. Use old greeting cards (with written messages cut out, of course), scraps of wrapping paper and ribbon or magazine photos to create your own holiday cards. If you’re crafty or have children who love art projects, this can be a great activity with some holiday music or movies in the background. Buy envelopes for your cards at the dollar store or an office supply store. If you want to add a personal touch to basic printed greeting cards, you can jazz them up with a little glitter or ribbon (but remember that too much bulky ribbon increases your postage costs).
Shop after-Christmas sales. Starting Dec. 26, retailers who want to clear out holiday inventory will deeply discount cards, wrapping paper and decorations, so this is a good time to stock up if you have the storage space. One of my favorite after-Christmas finds was buying a box of holiday cards for half off using a gift card I’d received from Barnes & Noble.
Photo credit: Getty Creative