How one mom gets personal when it comes to gift-giving.
Recession Mama: I find I'm craftier with a computer than I am with a glue gun. That's why one of my standard new baby or teacher thank-you gifts are personalized note cards. Here is how I do it.
I buy plain white card stock (in standard 8.5" x 11") and invitation-size envelopes, size #6 (around 4 ¾" x 5 ¾"). You can get them at any office supply store (sometimes their websites have better prices, with free delivery to the stores), or, if you spot them, at Sam's Club, Costco, Big Lots, or the 99 cent store.
1. To start, just open a new document in whatever program you use for word processing -- Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc. -- and change the page orientation to "landscape" so it is now wider than it is tall.
2. Set up two columns and center the text. You will be able to make four note cards on each page.
3. I like to do the person's name and a graphic on each card -- you can also do a different graphic on each card if you want to. Be creative and think of a graphic that would mean something to the person. When my friend who collects frog items had a baby boy, I used a tiny picture of a frog prince on those cards. When in doubt, you can rely on tools of their trade -- globes and books for a teacher, or a briefcase for a lawyer ... There is a ton of free clipart available on the Internet. You can use Google and Google Images to find the graphic you want.
4. Cut and paste your image(s) into your document and adjust the size. You can also format the image to change position, color, and contrast.
5. Pick a font for the name (script for fancier cards, cartoon-like for kids). I like to do a small graphic with the name underneath. Since each column will make two cards, do the graphic and name at the top; then halfway down the page, repeat them both. Do the same for the other column.
6. Use "page preview" to see if it looks right to you, and then print out a test page on regular paper. You can print on "draft" setting to save ink.
7. Fold the paper into quarters and unfold. The creases are where the note cards will be cut. Adjust margins and spacing if necessary. Print however many you want.
8. Cut with a paper cutter, if you (or a friend) have one. Five pages will make twenty note cards, and tied with raffia, it makes a nice hostess gift or party favor for a small group.
Now, to order personalized note cards, you'd pay about a dollar apiece. The average price for a sheet of card stock is around five cents, and each envelope runs about eight cents, so for a set of twenty note cards, you're talking $1.80. If you find envelopes at the 99 cent store (you can use a different size if you want, just adjust your formatting), they usually come in packs of fifty there, so they would only cost two cents each, and your pack of twenty note cards drops down to sixty cents!
A former state deputy attorney general and current stay-at-home mom, Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla has three kids and ten years of experience stretching one salary to cover the necessities and more. She's all about saving money whenever you can, so you have it to spend on whatever you want!