Simple Greeting Cards & Displays

Another stint I enjoyed a few years ago, was making and selling greeting cards. My cards sold in several shops around the county until I started doing the math and decided that wholesaling them at one buck a card it just wasn’t worth the time and energy. Now that selling online is so simple with Etsy, I might just take it back up. In the meantime, my cards still sell at my sister’s store, Red Books & Chairs in Springfield, Mo. and I love making sets to give as gifts. Even my kids have taken custom notecards as gifts to birthday parties for their friends.

Now that Christmas is over, it’s time to start writing our thank you notes. My son, Bennett, age 13, was complaining that he didn’t have anything to write on. And so a new blog post was born.

Remember, you can click on images to enlarge for better viewing.

I am lucky enough to live only a half hour away from a wholesale paper warehouse, PaperPlus in Santa Rosa, CA, that is also open to the public. This is where I buy my pre-cut, pre-scored (embossed fold line) stationery to print on my desktop ink-jet printer. I buy the 5 1/2 BAR, no panel (that means no embossed frame design as in wedding invitations) white vellum card stock and envelopes. These ran $11 per box of 250 cards and $10.50 for the same amount of envelopes. I was happy to see they also had in stock the clear PVC card boxes that I usually buy through This size card when flat measures as a half sheet of standard printer paper that will easily feed through my printer.

I asked my son what he would like on his cards and he wanted ducks, pheasants and quail. So I handed him a clip-art book and asked him to pick a few things out.

I then scanned and vector traced the artwork to place into my design software to create his cards.

Remember that there are many other ways to place your artwork onto cards, including a copy machine that will take half-size sheets of paper. I place my art at the top half of a vertical sheet in Adobe Illustrator. For the backs of the cards I sold, I would put my logo and other information including retail pricing of anywhere between $2.50 to $3.00 a card.

You can print photographs, vintage illustrations, your own artwork, backgrounds to embellish after printing, whatever!

For my sister’s shop, I have also created cards that are laid out with two of the same image per card, and then once printed, cut the cards in half to fit nicely into little manila coin envelopes as small gift cards. (You can see the tiny cards in the back of the red-lined box in the lower left corner of the display photos below.)

For Bennett’s set and for the sake of this post/demo, I printed 4 copies of 3 designs and folded them. When placing in the clear boxes, it’s nice to add a ribbon. Anything goes here, unless it’s too bulky. A great inexpensive ribbon is simple vintage seam binding you can find in the sewing section of most thrift stores. I cut string and ribbon handles from used gift and shopping bags, or in this case, found some raffia in my craft shed. It’s best to tie around the cards only and not the envelopes, as the envelopes tend to crease easily.

For displaying cards, my sister comes up with the sweetest ideas in her shop.

I used to make displays for the shops I sold in locally from kraft colored paper maché boxes from the craft store. Using 3 small narrow boxes (the smallest of the 3 shown here), I stair-stepped them into a diagonally cut larger box with hot-glue, adding a modified (shortened) box to the side for envelopes. I carefully sliced strips of extra kraft colored paper from leftover lids to use to hide raw or glued areas. I then added ID plates (off-colors found in the scrapbook section on sale then spray-painted black) and slipped a price card and “envelopes” card into them.

There are really so many ways to display cards for retail, but in the future, I think I’ll just be displaying them in boxes for my digital camera and simply sell them on Etsy.

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33 Responses to Simple Greeting Cards & Displays

  1. #1 - ElegantSnobbery says:

    Love how those cards turned out! I have that book, but I’m hopeless at making cool stuff with it. Maybe I should try my hands at making myself some cards 🙂

  2. #2 - Fishstikks says:

    Your cards are wonderful!

    I’ve been wanting to do cards of my own artwork but was dumbfounded on how to even begin. This kind of opened my eyes a bit on the possibilities. Your “process” is great as are your photos and explanations…Kudos!

  3. #3 - ~ tracychong ~ says:

    Wow, I love the last display. I wish I had a paper warehouse near my place.

    Happy New Year too~

  4. #4 - RippingItDown says:

    You’re lucky to live near a paper warehouse. I’d never even imagined such a thing, but I’m sure I could happily spend plenty of time there! I like the cards, but I especially like the display ideas! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. #5 - equivoque says:

    what a great, informative blog!
    –equivoque from etsy

  6. #6 - Vicki says:

    That box display is brilliant! Thanks for sharing the process 🙂

  7. #7 - Joy (a.k.a. The Monkey) says:

    Nice story, pics and how-to’s!!

  8. #8 - Almay Alday says:

    Great cards! I love making them too!

  9. #9 - Janet says:

    If anyone else was inspired as I was – I ebayed “copyright-free” and there are a few copies of the same “Amimals” book that you used there!

    I didn’t buy them but I did pick up a couple of others.

  10. #10 - High Desert Diva says:

    Even your display boxes are creative.


    A very happy New Year to you Cathe!

  11. #11 - Whisker Graphics says:

    LOVE the card displays! You are so very clever. Thanks for all your inspiring posts!
    ps. I left a little birthday greeting for you on my blog 🙂

  12. #12 - Brenda says:

    Thanks for sharing you process. Your cards are beautiful and so are the displays. You must be the most clever gal on the planet!

  13. #13 - My @ tha Hotness says:

    I love love love the card display. So very clever… I will give this a try as soon as I get a minute.

  14. #14 - christy says:

    Boy are you clever. I love that display box.

  15. #15 - Diana says:

    Love your cards. I especially like the back. Thanks for showing all the steps. Your so talented! Gives me a great idea for my bear card that I’ve been playing around with.

  16. #16 - Doda says:

    I love your display idea! Very clever!

  17. #17 - dragonflydreamer says:

    I love making handmade cards for my friends and family. I have been learning Photoshop Elements, but I don't understand when you write about vector lines. My son has talked about vector before, but can't seem to explain it to me. What do you mean when you write about turning the graphic into vector lines? Thank you for such a great tutorial. You are so very generous with your creative ideas and knowledge.

    xo Susi xo

  18. #18 - Plastic Card says:

    Thanks for sharing more usable information with us.Your blog is really appreciable & cool. Thanking you once again for sharing nice information of designing of cards.

  19. #19 - slanderific says:

    It would be great if you would post a downloadable template for making cards on your site!!

  20. #20 - nata_says_so says:

    What a fantastic way to display cards. Simple yet effective, and it fits with the style of the cards too.

    Great blogging!


  21. #21 - Beth says:

    That card display is great. I have been looking for one to buy & never see anything I like.

  22. #22 - Dani Kreeft says:

    you have literally just saved my life. and my wallet.
    i am about to do my first craft fair in a couple weeks and have been RACKING my brain for economical ways to display my cards.
    this is brilliant.

    thank you so very much!
    happy holidays!!

  23. #23 - Sally Perkins says:

    I love the display box idea, how simple and effective.

  24. #24 - rebecca says:

    thanks for sharing this display idea! I am preparing for my first craft fair and have very little money!! This card display idea would be great – if i can find similar boxes! Thank You!!

  25. #25 - Mark Williams says:

    Hi Cathe – I am a late blooming photographer (last 5 years) and have been doing surprisingly well selling my photo cards, however, I am always stuck on how to display them…I have used so many make-shift boxes etc., but I have never been satisfied. I am also sensitive to the material bearing in mind I am trying to be as “green” as possible. My card stock, envelopes and bags are 100% recyclable . So when I saw your boxes within boxes display rack today, it encouraged me to try it, and hopefully I can find a recyclable cardboard box outlet nearby. Anyways, thanks for your site and appreciate you sharing that idea very much.

  26. #26 - David Fowler says:

    Hi Cathe,
    Just found your site while looking for a unique “cardboard” way to present my new line of 60″Uplift” cards.

    I love your card display and wondered if it might work for me…do you sell them?

    My “pop-open” cards are 5 x 7…they display long not tall (like most cards)…anyway, just wondered if you sell them or know where I can buy them.

    Love your site…

    David Fowler
    Santa Cruz

  27. #27 - Jenn says:

    I’ve finally got myself a spot in a shop in town and need a way to display my cards and tags. I am so deeply in love with your kraft display. I’m having trouble picturing my my mind how you stepladdered the smaller boxes. Are there gaps between the bottom of the compartments and the bottom of the diagonal cut larger box?

  28. #28 - Chrysteen Braun says:

    We’ve just opened a cabin store in Lake Arrowhead area, called At the Cabin, and I’d love to have some “custom” cards made. Are you still thinking of going back to making cards?

  29. #29 - lisa brantley says:

    hey, I was interested in knowing, how much do u sell the displays for the cards with the three boxes. I am needing something like that for my cards. looking forward to hearing from you. thanks lisa

  30. #30 - Cameron Power says:

    Nicely designed and holds well together for a retail assignment, so thanks and this is not plagiarism we need to get a template and so I chose you. You should feel amazed that modern day students still like this king of stuff. Because I do.

  31. #31 - Michael O'Malley says:

    Hi – Could you let me know when I can ask you about your card services. Thanks Mike
    312 404 0775

  32. #32 - amy williams says:

    hi Cathe Holden i just saw your cardboard greeting cards this play i thought it was cool idea I’m thinking to make it because i make greeting cards too hope you have a great summer

  33. #33 - Brayden Wyatt says:

    I really like your greeting cards designs. These cards looks unique and stylish. I want to get thee cards in bulk quantity.