By now you're probably thinking about the best ways to use the last of your Thanksgiving turkey and trying to remember where your address book is so you can get started on holiday greeting cards.
The annual ritual of sending cards to family and friends is a nice way to keep in touch with folks you wish you could see more frequently. But it can get pretty expensive, too, if you're not careful.
Fortunately, we received a great tip from Kimberley Huber in South Whitehall Township who makes beautiful, custom greeting cards for 29 to 34 cents each. Similar cards in a gift shop would easily cost a few bucks. Making the cards is also an outlet for Kim's new hobby: photography.
"I just started making mine, since I've gone nuts shooting digital photos everywhere," Kim said. "Walgreens often has deals whereby you can get photos printed for 10 cents apiece. I choose a photo for the occasion (birthday, thanks, sympathy, just to say hi) flowers and other nature shots, or funny pix of my photogenic kitty."
Her kitty's name is Pookie. And Kim is right. This is one photogenic feline.
Kim personalizes the text for each card and prints the message onto white cover stock or colored construction paper. Card stock is too stiff and doesn't always work in a home printer, Kim said.
"I trim the paper down to size with a ruler and razor blade, fold the card, sign it and paste the photo on the front with a glue stick," Kim said. "Pop it in an envelope, slap on some colorful stickers (that I always seem to have in abundance) and voilà! An attractive, personalized card for really cheap."
We made a demonstration video you can see at http://www.mcall.com/onthecheap. Kim makes some great-looking cards. She gets a box of 50 envelopes for $7 and 250 sheets of cover stock for $13.50, both at Staples.
"I might be able to get these supplies elsewhere for cheaper, but I'm not in a hurry to look, since 29 or 34 cents a card is still cheaper than the dollar store two-for-$1 price, let alone the ridiculous multidollar prices of standard greeting cards, that just get tossed," Kim said. "With my cards, you've got a nice photo to keep, share or re-gift."
We did some number crunching in the On The Cheap lab and figure this tip would save you $771.88 over 20 years, assuming you send out 50 holiday greeting cards each year. Plus, your cards will be more personalized than anything you can buy.
Now we have a question from a reader. She called the On The Cheap hotline and left an anonymous voice mail.
"Maybe some of your readers have a suggestion on how to use empty lipstick tubes," she said. "A lot of them are really pretty and I always hate to throw them out."
We're sure some of you have found some creative ways to reuse these things. So please shoot us a note or give us a call if you have any ideas.
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Make your own cards
Cheapster: Kimberley Huber
Tip: Make your own greeting cards
Estimated savings: $771.88 over 20 years