The 20-Cent Greeting Card

Here’s how to create a personalized yet professional-looking greeting card for about 20 cents in 30 seconds.

My mom taught me to buy greeting cards at the dollar store. She says she refuses to pay a threefold markup for a Hallmark logo when it’s the thought that counts. And most people toss cards after reading them anyway.

Sometimes I take her advice. Other times I take it a step farther.

When I discovered my local Barnes & Noble sold plain photos slapped onto plain white pieces of folded stock paper as $5 greeting cards, I realized I could make better cards myself for even less than mom pays. They come out to about 20 cents apiece.

You might find greeting cards for less if you bought in bulk, but handmade cards have a personal touch and sometimes a story behind them. That doesn’t meant they have to look homemade, though. When my mom gave one of my cards to my boyfriend as a birthday card, he didn’t believe it was homemade – or that it was made by his girlfriend.

Here’s the “recipe”…

Time required

About 30 seconds


  • Ingredients for the 20-cent greeting cardIngredients for the 20-cent greeting card

    Blank card with envelope: I’m currently using a box of DCWV cards like this one. The cards are colored and textured on the outside but white and flat on the inside so you can write on them.

  • Photo: Don’t pay more than 9 cents for a 4×6 print. That’s the standard price through a service like Snapfish. Drugstore services like Walgreens Photo and CVS Photo often call anything from 10 to 12 cents a deal, but sometimes offer actual deals if you’re willing to buy a few dozen prints.
  • Two-sided adhesive: Double-stick tape generally works and is probably the cheapest option, although I favor a brand of photo tape like this one meant for scrapbooks because it’s very thin, yet holds. The roll has 81 feet, so I figure it’ll make hundreds of cards.
  • Paper cutter (optional): You may want to trim the photo.
  • Corner punch (optional): I use a simple punch that rounds off the corners of my photos, which I think gives the card a more polished look. But you can get as fancy as you want.
  • Embellishments (optional): I’ve added googly eyes to a photo of a fanciful bug I took in the Amazon rain forest, for example. You can get as creative as you’d like.


  1. Buy any ingredients you don’t already have. I recommend getting the cards, tape, paper cutter, punch, and embellishments at a brick-and-mortar craft store like Michaels or A.C. Moore, which offer printable coupons worth at least 40 percent off one regular-priced item almost weekly. My cards came out to about 10 cents apiece that way.
  2. Pick out a photo to match the occasion and a card to match the photo.
  3. Trim the photo if needed.
  4. Punch the corners of the photo.
  5. Apply the tape to the back of the photo.
  6. Stick the photo to the card. Especially if the photo has a glossy finish, this can be difficult to do without leaving fingerprints on the photo, so I wrap a cloth meant for cleaning eyeglasses around my fingers before pressing down on the photo. A T-shirt could also work – any lightweight fabric that wouldn’t scratch.
  7. Add any embellishments.

The 20-cent greeting cardThe 20-cent greeting card

Got a better (or cheaper) idea? We’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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  • grandmaguest

    Very cute pictures of cards! Wonderful idea, especially for those folks you send out dozens of cards every year.

  • Gars

    Excellent idea!

    I’m so tired of spending $5 for a simple card!

  • Y2KJillian

    I use a glue stick, kids’ colored construction paper, and white or pastel typing paper. I print any message on my computer. Using fancy scissors (for scrapbooking, which I already had) I cut edges where wanted, add flat embellishments only (if mailing the cards) and fold more typing paper to make the envelope. I pick up supplies at garage sales and 2nd hand stores if I find them cheap enough…this year we made and sent 50 Xmas cards. Cost–not much. Printed the cover with free “clip-art” designs from online (stylized trees) onto white card stock and glued in pale green for my message inside–wrote a few words in each one as well as the printed message, and cut out envelopes from a template — more pale green paper. ,

  • ModernMode

    A lot of cards at Hallmark are now made in China. All the ones at Dollar General are made in USA.

  • girluvsart

    I buy a big bag of greeting cards at the thrift store. Usually they are the “free” ones that people get for giving to a charity, but I get a lot of beautiful ones too. It is about $5 for 50-80 cards.

  • MyongCoriell

    I don’t want to spend money in greeting cards. I will design them with online greeting card maker. Then share them with my friends on social media sites. It’s convenient and funny. Have a try with AmoLink html5 greeting card maker.

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