With the holiday season behind us, the surplus of unique sentiments got us thinking of what makes a good card so good. (We’re talking about the ones we wrote for our own special someones, although we’d be happy to write greeting cards for clients too).

Who doesn’t love watching the subtle curve of a smile form on their reader’s face, slowly revealing more teeth and adding to their wrinkle count? Knowing that your words did that is a special kind of feeling, one that’s known to render the gift itself irrelevant.

So how do you do that with your greeting card?

Choose a blank card

As successful as Hallmark and the like are, your message will never be unique because the knowledge that thousands of the same cards are circulating can take that unique feeling away. At least it does for us. Any shmuck can walk in a store, draw one of the hundreds of pretty cards from the shelf and slap a name on it. Would you be proud to give that to someone special?
So instead of feeding off the generic “warm wishes” message, create your own from scratch that will speak directly to your reader. Your words, as generic as they may be, are still yours. And that in itself means something.

Write the way you talk

Although this is our philosophy for absolutely everything (because it makes for the most effective communication), we’re emphasizing the you. Don’t try to get all fancy and wordy if that’s not true to your personality. That’ll make it as inauthentic as a Hallmark card.

If you’re really animated and loud, go crazy with the ALL CAPS and exclamation marks. Dot your I’s with hearts. If you’re sarcastic, make your card sarcastic. If you’re serious, make your words follow suit.

Use words that are prevalent in your everyday vernacular. When you can tell exactly who wrote something just by reading it, you know this is done properly.

Repurpose it

You could use a pre-written message in a greeting card to your advantage and edit/add to it to make it unique or funny. Add a “soon to be”]” into “To my wife” instead of using “To my fiancée.” Witty comments throughout the message can act like notes in the margins of a book, adding your own stamp to it.

Or you could use a card for a different occasion to celebrate the given one. Instead of a “Happy Birthday” card, get a “Thank You” card that thanks them for existing. On Christmas, you can give a birthday card and address it to Jesus. Or give a Halloween card on Mother’s Day telling her she always dresses the part. There are lots of ways to get creative with this one. No doubt your reader will appreciate it.

Don’t forget that you’re not limited to words. If you’re more of an artist, draw it for them. Explain it in a chart if you have to. For Thanksgiving, you could draw them a pumpkin pie graph that divides up sections of them that you’re thankful for in their appropriate percentages. What matters is that the sentiment gets communicated.

Know your audience

Another obvious philosophy to all writing: write what will excite your reader. If they like to laugh (and you know how to be funny), make it funny. If they’re soft and gushy, include a package of tissues with the card. Reminisce about a past moment the two of you shared. The more obscure, the better. That way you reinforce that it’s a message between just you and them. It’s the reaction you’re after, so do what you gotta do to get it out of them.