I gave up buying cards years ago for most occasions including Valentine’s Day. As a creative hybrid who cares about words as much as I do design, the bar was always set high when searching for that perfect piece of paper. I would spend 45 minutes in the aisle of a store on a fruitless journey to discover a clever yet beautiful 120# piece of cardstock that perfectly expressed my heart’s desires. Unfortunately, I would always leave disappointed and empty-handed. Not to mention I am cheap and hate purchasing anything I can make myself. (Note: To be fair, I have never had enough time to start my own letterpress card-making business, so who am I to complain?)

But as I reflect, there are a few key lessons that our friends at Hallmark can teach us about advertising:

If you have the right message, I will most certainly spend $5.99 on a piece of paper.

The right message sent to the right audience at the right time is priceless. How else do you explain why people actually pay for Pit Vipers sunglasses?

Greeting cards are the only instance where wordplay is an acceptable headline.

The one place puns make us smile.

A compelling visual is worth 1,000 words.

A beautiful illustration, original watercolor, or laugh-out-loud cultural reference…no words needed.

If you don’t know your audience well, your message might do more harm than good.

Yep. Probably not going to send these to my grandmother.

If you happen to be in the market to pick up an awesome Valentine’s Day card that passes this critic’s high bar, be sure to stop by Mixed Greens in downtown Boise. You will not leave empty-handed!

(This opinion piece was written by Kate Holgate, our Chief Creative Officer. She has been happily married for over 18 years and is lucky to have a partner who actually makes her a beautiful hand-crafted Valentine’s Day card every year, making her feel EXTREMELY guilty about her lack of reciprocation. All cards in this post are courtesy of Mixed Greens!)