Where to Find Greeting Cards That Aren’t Sappy, Cliché, or Otherwise Annoying

Where to Find Greeting Cards That Aren’t Sappy, Cliché, or Otherwise Annoying
Photo: lentamart, Shutterstock

Some families are Greeting Card Families — that is, when an occasion rolls around, be it yearly (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and the like) or a milestone (graduation, wedding, new home, etc), the cards flood the mailbox. As a member of a Greeting Card Family, I appreciate receiving a piece of mail that lets me know a loved one is thinking of me, celebrating with me, or sympathizing with me. As someone who buys a lot of cards to reciprocate, though, I find the selection in most stores to be lacking.

How to find greeting cards you actually like

Overall, I find that most drug store greeting cards fall into one of the following categories:

  • Overly sappy or sentimental to the point that my 11-year-old would label it “cringe”
  • So brusque that it’s borderline rude
  • Desperate to be funny
  • Oozing with cliché

I have longed for cards with a sentiment that falls somewhere between “Oh, Happy Mother’s Day, Mum” and “From the moment I was born, you were my everything…”

Also, fart jokes in person can be funny; fart jokes on a greeting card are never funny.

And guess what? Not all dads fish. Not all dads hog the TV remote.

To that point, I once bought my dad the same Father’s Day card three years in a row because it was the only one I liked at my local Walgreens. I suppose I could have shopped someplace else, but I didn’t expect to be standing in front of the exact same selection every year. Besides, any other drug store or grocery store I have ever tried told the same story: sappy, brusque, desperate, or cliché.

And then one day, a friend was going through something that I knew deserved more recognition and empathy than sappy, brusque, desperate, or cliché could ever convey. So I logged onto Etsy, and found this card:

And suddenly…buying cards felt less like a regular chore and more like an excuse to peruse Etsy, which is a thing I find excuses to do anyway. I like supporting artists and small businesses online; I like finding more personalised messaging; and I love the quality of each card I’ve purchased.

Where to find the best greeting cards online

To show you what is possible, here is a sampling of my recent card purchases:

I don’t only buy greeting cards on Etsy — I look for other individual artists’ shops, too. One in particular I love is Grey Day Studio (the “I’m ridiculously excited for your birthday!” card is one to always have on hand).

As I was writing this, I remembered that I have not sent a “congrats” card to a friend who just signed with a literary agent to sell her novel; so now she’s getting this “That’s some next level shit” card. Because, getting an agent is some next-level shit.

How to get the best deals when you buy greeting cards online

Yes, it is likely you will pay a bit more for these cards, especially if you buy them individually without planning ahead. For example, “This. Fucking. Sucks.” costs $9.55, plus shipping. But I can easily spend $7.99 on a sappy card at Woolies, so if I’m in a pinch and really need just one occasion-specific card, I’m willing to eat that extra $1.50 to get one I like.

I try to be more strategic than that when I can. If I’m going to pay $7 or $8 per card, but I’ll get free shipping if I spend a certain amount, I’ll always look at whether I can stockpile more cards from the same store for other upcoming occasions. When in doubt, it never hurts to have a pretty “thank you” card like this one on hand (or buy a variety pack, if offered); you’ll save on shipping, you’re supporting a small business owner, and you’ll save yourself a last-minute trip to Walgreens (I don’t know why I’m picking on Walgreens so much).

Or just embrace the totally cheap

If the cost of buying greeting cards online is too ridiculous or extravagant for you to even consider, I hear you (and I have been you). But if you still find yourself a member of a Greeting Card Family, you know that doesn’t exempt you from sending cards. If you’re on a tight budget, my best advice is to skip the tired and overpriced drug store cards and head straight for your local dollar store, where you can often score two for a buck. They’re mostly of the brusque variety, but at least you’ve done your duty.

(Or just send your dad the same card every year for as long as you both can stand it. It’s kind of funny.)

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