Greeting Cards Today
(or Personal Expression Products as some would now have them referred to)
The first part of this article “The History of Greeting Cards” appeared on the 1st of September and can now be read by clicking on the link “Article of the Month - September Part 1.
Life without e-mails, internet, mobile phones, palm organisers and wireless LAN connections would for many people living in the year 2004 be virtually impossible! We think nothing these days of sending a quick SMS or text message to say “I love you” or bashing out an e-mail to an overseas friend to say “thinking of you” or even leaving a voice mail just to say “hello”. When our e-mail inboxes are full of nothing but junk and spam we feel disappointed. If we turn on our mobiles and there are no voice mails, we feel abandoned and if no one texts us for a week we start to check the batteries! So what effect has all this technology had on the good old-fashioned paper greeting card industry?
The need to express our sentiments to one another has fortunately not declined with the development of more and more electronic gadgets. Living in a world which communicates faster and faster, our need to be able to send a message quickly to someone has, however, increased. The advent of e-cards addressed this issue admirably and today there are any number of websites offering all singing, all dancing, animated e-cards with a huge range of sentiments, messages, jokes and reminders to ensure that we can instantly send a greeting to our loved ones overseas or colleagues in the next office at the click of a button.
Add to that time-delay sites where you can programme your message to be sent on a date of your choice in the future and there is no need for any of us to ever forget a birthday again as we could, theoretically, set all our e-cards up on the first of January and just let them roll out over the year!
If you’re stuck for a reason to send an e-card, many sites will helpfully let you know about special events and days around the world allowing you to surprise your overseas friends on their own national holidays without having to become a walking encyclopaedia of world holidays!
e-card images courtesy of www.123greetings.com
But some would say that although all this technology is a technical miracle, and it certainly makes keeping in touch with loved ones much easier, much of the personal element of sending a hand-written, specially selected greeting card, in a premium weight envelope perhaps decorated with your own private messages. has disappeared. Whilst e-mail and text communication is quick and easy it is also less special than a paper card as so little effort is involved. Although keeping in touch with more people has become easier, sending a card to those who are really special to you will always be more meaningful – and who doesn’t get a little thrill when the postman delivers a colourful envelope, with a hand-written address instead of just a pile of bills?
So it would seem that the proliferation of these new modes of communication are in fact helping to ensure that the paper greeting card industry doesn’t die out – just as the advent of DVD’s and videos wasn’t a death knell to cinema complexes and movie houses.
A secondary trend which has developed along side the technology boom and is perhaps counteracting some of the less personal sides of electronic communication, is the huge increase in the number of small businesses producing handmade cards. Any quick search on Google or Metacrawler will provide you with links to a massive number of sites all of which are advertising handmade, personalised greeting cards at reasonable prices. Even the world’s biggest card manufacturers are beginning to take notice of this trend and the quantity of handcrafted cards available in the shops is increasing almost daily.
The wealth of talent and creativity found in some of the handmade card professionals and amateurs around today is amazing. This cottage industry is providing a small income to many who would otherwise have little or no chance of earning – disabled people confined to their homes, mothers of young children who can’t get more than an hour to themselves during a busy day of childcare and homemaking, retired people who keep in touch with their community through displaying their cards at craft shows and trades fairs, teenagers who sell their cards at school and thus make a bit of extra pocket money from their own creations – the list is endless.
Of course this interest in handmade cards has spurned a whole new industry of companies selling embellishments, backing papers, blank cards, envelopes, display bags, stickers, peel-offs, stamps ad infinitum! A quick search for “embellishments” on any search engine will give you some idea of what is on the market today and perhaps give you some inspiration for starting your own cottage industry!
Images courtesy of www.craftsbycarolyn.co.uk
The increase in the number of small businesses providing handmade, personalised cards on both sides of the Atlantic and around Europe means you can send a special card to your loved ones back home very easily – just contact one of these small businesses in your home country (using the internet and your mobile phone if you like!), ask them to send a card in your name, settle up by cheque, PayPal or credit card and hey presto! your mother-in-law in Alabama or your best friend in London or your dear old aunty in Canada will be getting a beautiful, personalised greeting from you the next day even though you are far away in a Europe! Try out www.luluslalas.com if you need to send a card to someone in the USA; www.thecardshop.ch looks after loved ones in Europe; www.snowflakedesigns.ca is your greatest contact for anyone in Canada and if you’ve a friend getting married in the UK look no further than www.bhd.co.uk or ww.spatdesign.co.uk
Here are a few suggestions to get you started ….
1. Back to school
2. Just because …
3. When the going gets tough …
4. Thinking of you ….
5. I just remembered when ….
6. How are you?
7. I’d love to pop over for coffee but …
8. Life in the mountains is…
9. You make me feel …
10. Guess why I’m sending you this card?
And finally – 10 things that greeting cards also do:
1. Show that someone has taken the time to send a special message
2. Add a personal touch to special occasions and holidays
3. Connect us to all different types of people including co-workers, teachers, family and friends
4. Help us put our emotions into words
5. Provide a tangible keepsake to document special moments in our lives
6. Help us reach across generation, gender and cultural communication gaps
7. Provide comfort to someone and make sad times less painful
8. Boost emotional well-being through reaching out to others
9. Make a loved one feel special and show someone you care
10.Preserve memories of connections with friends and family
With thanks to The Greeting Card Association
***********************************************************************************************************This article was jointly sponsored by The Card Shop (www.thecardshop.ch) for unique and personalised cards in Europe and Lu Lu’s La La’s (www.luluslalas.com) for when you want to send a unique, quirky greeting States side.