Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

Greeting cards are a wonderful way to express appreciation for the people in your life–if you can pick one up before the occasion passes by. Why not make sure you’re prepared by keeping cards on hand instead? Make this the year you get your notes in order and plan for all of the occasions likely to emerge throughout the year. 

Buy specific cards for births, graduations, marriages and anniversaries, or just have gorgeous blank stationery ready for all occasions. Either style works, although pre-printed, illustrated cards take some of the pressure off of you to deliver a pitch perfect message. Be sure to write at least a sentence or two to personalize the sentiment.

I write one personal note a day, usually a thank-you note on simple Crane & Co. stationery. But I also maintain a store of jazzier greeting cards for special occasions, organized in two clear plastic card keepers from The Container Store. I’ve used piles in a drawer and a binder in the past, but I prefer the durability and transparency of the containers, which come with six dividers each. Spreading my cards out between two boxes allows for more categories and space to store related items such as a birthday list, stamps, stickers. Keeping everything in one place makes it easy to recognize when you are running low in a particular area.  

Cards to Consider

There’s no right or wrong way to categorize your cards.  The important thing is that the category names make sense to you and accurately reflect the cards you store. Here are the card types that I stock:

  1. Anniversary
  2. Blank
  3. Birthday (for kids and adults)
  4. Congratulations
  5. Father’s Day
  6. Get Well
  7. Grandparent’s Day
  8. Graduation
  9. Mother’s Day
  10. New Baby
  11. Sympathy
  12. Thank You
  13. Valentine’s Day
  14. Weddings

The groupings reflect my personal inclinations and your categories and cards should reflect yours. If you’re a regular at Bar or Bat Mitzvahs or Quinceaneras, by all means, add them to your box!

Planning Ahead

Before you stock up on cards, pause to consider who you are likely to send cards to this year.  Putting a face on this part of your home organization effort will make the process more fun and meaningful and give you a leg up on picking out cards that really speak to the intended recipient.

  • Which students are graduating high school or college this year?
  • Which couples are engaged, expecting a child or anticipating a big anniversary?
  • Which friends’ birthdays would you like to acknowledge this year?
  • What occasions and holidays do you want to note this year?
  • Approximately how many of each kind of card do you send each year?  

Buying Time

Once you have your card list together, pick up a few (or the whole bunch) when you’re out shopping or order them online so that your stock never dwindles.  I think it’s more fun to see and feel the cards in person, and frequenting local shops can introduce you to some new designers.  But once you know the brands you love, online shopping can be more efficient and help you compare prices and recognize sales.

If you’re feeling really inspired, buy some Forever stamps, including some personalized for birthdays and holidays, to round out your collection and store them with the cards so they’re ready to go. A custom return address label or stamp (or the supplies to make your own) will save you the time it takes to write out your address.

Need some help penning notes that will make your cards shine?

The following titles are in my personal collection:

Your Happy Home Playbook

You can’t change the world if your house isn’t in order.  This greeting-card guide is just one home system designed to help you clear the clutter and banish the busy work that keeps you off balance.  Each installment helps readers develop and document smart, reliable home systems and routines. Together, they’ll lighten your load by clarifying what’s important, eliminating guesswork and anxiety, and promoting foresight, delegation and automation.  You know, the stuff that helps you handle home, so you’ve got the time and energy you need to change the world outdoors.

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