How to Make Free Thank You Notes

In three minutes, you can turn this season’s holiday cards into free thank you postcards. The only cost is the stamp.

If you’re getting ready to toss out the holiday cards you received this year, think twice. You can give them a second life as no-cost gift tags next December. (You will find instructions here.)

Or, you can use them as no-cost thank you notes. Using the following technique will turn those holiday cards into “thank you” postcards. Postcard stamps cost 15 cents less than regular stamps as long as the card meets U.S. Postal Service size specifications.

Here’s how to do it:

Time required

About three minutes


  • Holiday cards you’ve received
  • Paper cutter or scissors
  • Straightedge
  • Writing utensil(s)
  • Return address labels (optional)


  1. Before

    Pick out an appropriate card. If it has a holiday-themed picture on it, that’s OK. The holiday season isn’t over quite yet, and the card is to say “thank you” for a holiday gift. But if it has a holiday-specific message such as “Merry Christmas,” it won’t work as a post-Christmas thank you note. (Although it will work as a Christmas postcard next year.) Also, if the original card sender wrote on the inside left side of the card, it won’t work as either a thank you note or a Christmas postcard.

  2. Cut the card into two pieces along the fold. This works best with a paper cutter, but scissors will work.
  3. Toss out the back half of the card.
  4. Turn the front half over to the blank side.
  5. Stick a return address label in whichever corner you want to be the upper left. Alternatively, write your name and address in the same place. If you plan to write a long thank you note, position the return address as close to the edge as possible to maximize the writing room.
  6. Stick a stamp in the upper right corner. Again, position it close to the edge if you want to maximize the writing room.
  7. Write the recipient’s name and address on the right side. You can position it close to the edge if you need the room, but make sure your writing is legible. To help the postcard reach the recipient quickly, use his or her 10-digit ZIP code, which you can look up at
  8. Use a straightedge to draw a vertical line to separate the recipient’s name and address from the blank area where you will write your message. This isn’t necessary, but it makes it a lot easier to ensure the writing in the two areas doesn’t run together such that the post office won’t be able to read the address.

Now you’re ready to add the thank you part. If you want to get fancy, you can use something other than a blue or black pen. But make sure that any writing instrument you use on any part of the card won’t bleed if the postcard catches a few raindrops on its way to the recipient.


Got ideas of your own to share? Let us hear from you below or in our Forums. It’s a place where you can swap questions and answers on money-related matters, life hacks and ingenious ways to save.

Stacy Johnson

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  • Eric Bustad

    Note that the resulting postcard must be at least 3.5″ high by 5″ wide.  Otherwise it may be rejected by the Post Office as non-mailable.  And it should be no larger than 4.25″ by 6″, as it will then require letter rate postage.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Karla,

    Great post. We’ve recently setup a business to allow you to send hank you notes via postcards from the comfort of your own home. We’ll even post them for you..

    Check out


  • bigpinch

    Well, my wife has been doing this for decades. Despite repeated beatings and my imprecations she persists. She even scratches out the names of those who sent her the cards, in the first place, signs her name to them, and sends them on to other conspirators in her network who do the same thing.
    After 35 years of this, I don’t know how much longer I can go on.

    • Patricia Ann

      :) , Good Woman!!

  • NoCellPhones

    Okay, I’m all for saving money, but I think this falls into the category of “cheapskate.” How many people send Christmas postcards anyway? I’m in my 50’s and I’ve yet to receive even one. When I’ve received homemade cards (from adult family members) these cards made me feel as if they were too cheap to even buy me a card.–Saving money on their card purchase was more important. The e-cards make me feel the same way. Please don’t bother if it’s for me.

    • Pat Walker

      Have you considered they took their time to make you something special.

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