Simplifying the card giving process…

In honor of my husband’s birthday today I thought I would share one of my most favorite traditions that we have in our household that keeps the card giving process  simplified …

But, first, store-bought or not?… I’ve never been a big fan of Hallmark(esk) store-bought cards. Not only are they expensive but they aren’t terribly personal. I used to find myself browsing those cards stands for what seemed like an hour to find the perfect phrase on a card… all for what? To pay $4 for a card that reflected what I wanted to say… kind of… not really. My family instead likes to make simple handmade cards or use pretty blank cards purchased in bulk to make our notes to friends and family a little more personable and way cheaper.

On to my favorite way to simplify cards… a couple years ago I discovered a more simplified system for all those handmade cards my daughter makes for us on our special day. Rather than her creating a new card for each Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or birthdays and then us subsequently storing these treasures in our memory boxes…

All I did was purchase an unlined 5×7 journal for myself (around $5 at Half Price Books)…


And each Mother’s Day and birthday my daughter writes me a little message and draws me a picture. I always look forward to what she will say and create.


I later purchased a journal for my husband from a local boutique, Atown. This north central Austin gift shop {that I love} carries a lot of locally handmade goods including jewelry, art, and clothing. The journal I purchased is a definite step up from mine {while still being really reasonably priced}; it’s a 7″x10.5″ gorgeous, fair-trade, eco-friendly, hand-made Uzma Sketchbook by Raven + Lily, also a local business*, which helps employ marginalized women in Ethiopia, India, Cambodia and the United States at fair trade wages to give them access to a safe job, sustainable income, healthcare, education, and a real chance to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and their families.

*update April 2014: Raven+Lily now has a brand new storefront on 2406 Manor Road in Austin, TX!


My daughter gets to fill up his journal now too with sweet messages and pictures each Father’s Day and birthday and personally present it to him on his special day, as she did this morning over breakfast. Valentine’s Day would be also be a great holiday to pull out the journal and write a love note to one another!


I recommend a 5×7 or larger journal or sketchbook with 40 pages or more. Unlined is preferable for drawing pictures… and is harder to come by {in a pretty design} than you might think.


Why I love the journal concept…

#1 Cheaper: if you have been purchasing store-bought cards for family members, think on this… if you purchase just 6 store bought cards a year at $4 plus tax each, after 50 years that rings up to approximately $2,000 you could have had in the bank (future value of an ordinary annuity using a conservative 1.5% growth rate). Hmmm… money towards a vacation or store-bought greeting cards?

#2 Prettier and more Functional Storage: Journals come in so many sizes and designs. You can really pick out a lovely journal that reflects you and keep it on a bookshelf in your home. No longer will you need a box that takes up a lot of space to hold all those odd-shaped cards and you get to quickly pick up your “love journal” to read anytime you need a little pick-me-up.


#3 Easier: No more making a trip to the store for a store-bought card or to make one from scratch, just let your children grab the journal off the bookshelf.

#4 Keeps the tradition alive: Realistically, I don’t imagine my daughter will want to make us hand-made cards forever. But providing her a journal to write notes to us on special occasions will keep the ritual alive. I won’t anticipate her drawing a picture of us holding hands when she is 16, but I will treasure whatever she wants to write me on my special day. You can also create journals for your children… each birthday you and your spouse would have a consistent space to record your love notes to him or her, even starting from birth. What a nice treasure that would be.

What’s a ritual? It’s a routine with meaning. Children love ritual. Repetition, the comfort of belonging, the sense of wonder, magic, and celebration — all create a bonding experience that nurtures both kids and parents. Rituals hold families together.

Dr. Laura Markham

Well, that’s all I have for today. If you liked this post, please leave me a comment below and…

Happy Birthday, Daddy! We hope you have a simply wonderful day. We love you…


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