How To Pick The Perfect Birthday Card


It’s a universal truth that everyone has a birthday. It’s also a universal truth that picking the right card can be tricky. We’ve all been there. It’s 9pm on a week night and we’re in the drugstore trawling the Greeting Card aisle, desperately searching for a last minute birthday card for our sister. Do we buy the funny one with the cat getting a manicure? Or the serious one that declares, On Your Birthday With Love? This is where we normally wander over to the freezer aisle and snag a pint of dulce de leche—we can make a decision see—while wondering if Sis really cares about whether or not she receives a card. In our hearts we know she does, but it’s late and we have ice cream, and choosing the right card suddenly seems like too much responsibility for one person to bear.

At Elūm we understand BCIS (Birthday Card Indecision Syndrome)—heck that’s one of the reasons we started our company—which is why we’ve collected 4 fierce tips for picking the perfect birthday card.

1. Consider the tone of your relationship with the birthday gal or guy and match it to the tone of your card. If it’s a work-related acquaintance, always pick a card you’d be happy to show to your boss. Keep it primetime and office whimsical. If the recipient is an older relative who you have great affection and respect for, go with a classic. You can’t go wrong with a timeless floral or a vintage all-rounder. If it’s your bestie, go to town and celebrate her (or his) fab self. This is the person who’s seen you eat all the brownies, down two margaritas back-to-back, and finish with the ugly cry. Show them you adore and cherish them in the most shout it from the rooftop way.

If you’re sending a birthday card to a parent, we have it on good authority that any card with the word Mom or Dad on it will send them dizzy with delight to their happy place. Turns out parents are surprisingly easy to please with cards. We’re still working on the complex algorithm of birthday greetings for siblings, but we’re predicting a sweetly-fun statement of fact will always carry the day!

2. A less-than-ideal card is better than no card at all. Giving a birthday card is about recognizing and acknowledging the value of its recipient in your life. Think about it: If you received a cheesy, run-of-the-mill card but when you opened it found a touching handwritten note inside, how would you feel? Pretty cherished, right? So don’t sweat it. If you purchased the cat getting a manicure card for your sister but then decide you’d really like to say something heartfelt instead, say it! Right there inside the cat card. Sis, I love you more than cats having manicures. You are the most constant and remarkable force in my life. Katy. XOX

3. Stock up! We have umbrellas for when it rains, Vitamin C pouches for potential sniffles, and entire quadrants of our wardrobes devoted to the little black dress. Why? Because we predict we will need them in the future. According to statistics the average person sends 11 greeting cards a year. We know birthdays are on the horizon so why not plan for them? Think of birthday cards like panty hose or ramen noodle: it’s always good to have a couple extra in stock. So next time you purchase a birthday card take a few minutes longer to select some sidekicks as well.

4. When all else fails and you’re rendered immobile by the dreaded Birthday Card Indecision Syndrome, unable to decide what type of card to send to your preschooler’s teacher/your personal trainer/your brand-spanking-new boyfriend have a fallback position. Bypass the humor section, the cutesy animal section, and the heart-on-your-sleeve section and make a beeline for classic minimalism. A simple Happy Birthday with zero graphics on the front is as blank a canvas as a birthday card gets. Understated elegance never goes out of style or season and is always perfectly appropriate. Keep it neutral with a simple signature, warm it up with a handwritten message from your heart, or embellish it with hand-drawn flowers and stars. Make it your own.

Never forget that when you send a birthday card you create and store a little magic. We call it card-fairy magic here at Elūm. It’s released the moment your envelope is opened by someone you care about or love.

What tips do you have for picking the perfect birthday card? We’d love to hear them! Leave a comment below.


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  • Reply Quick Picks : 5.17.18 - Paper Crave 5.17.2018 at 1:20 pm

    […] Get some helpful tips for picking the perfect birthday card. Especially helpful if you have BCIS (Birthday Card Indecision […]

  • Reply Ethan Hansen 2.19.2019 at 7:17 pm

    I found it interesting how you mentioned how you should stock up on birthday cards for when someone’s special occasion rolls around. My wife and I are in the process of moving and we want to make sure we can do something for our friends when they’re far away. I will be sure to keep this in mind as we search for a nice birthday card to stock up on!

    • Reply Sarah Evans 2.19.2019 at 7:30 pm

      Keep an eye out as we are rolling out a greeting card subscription in the coming weeks! No need to search when the best cards will arrive straight to your mailbox! Good luck on your move 🙂

  • Reply Victoria Addington 3.03.2020 at 11:19 pm

    My college best friend Benny is turning 24 this weekend. Although we’ll be throwing a surprise party for her and I already have a gift for her, I’m thinking of getting her a greeting card since she loves to give some to people when we were in college. I like what you said about giving a birthday card shows that you acknowledge his/her value in your life. With that being said, I shall give her a hand-drawn greeting card from the online cards store since my penmanship isn’t that good.

  • Reply Lesley M. Soucie 9.25.2020 at 11:38 am

    Keep an eye out as we are rolling out a greeting card subscription in the coming weeks! No need to search when the best cards will arrive straight to your mailbox! Good luck on your move . this really useful post. Thank You

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