The classic birthday card – a folded piece of card to congratulate and remind you that you were born an increasingly large number of years ago. When you actually think about it, it’s pretty peculiar, and it seems to be one of those odd British traditions which has endured over time, like discussing the weather, carpeted bathrooms and complaining about the ever-increasing price of a Freddo.
Cards are more popular than they’ve ever been, and we’re quite happy to say that we're selling more than ever before! However, what makes a ‘good’ card is somewhat subjective, as is the entire notion of sending and receiving them. Whilst my mum says she’d much rather get a ‘nice’ birthday card over any gift (me and my bank balance thank you, Mother!), my friend Matt says he’d ‘rather just have the 3 quid cash’.
Luckily for us, most people aren’t as unenthusiastic and ungrateful as Matt, and the majority of us love nothing more than receiving that PERFECT birthday card.
But what exactly makes a perfect card? Unless you’re Beyoncé or Prince Andrew’s track record for dodging jail time, perfection is almost impossible - but it doesn’t mean we can’t try!
Much like Marmite, lycra leggings or anal s*x, it’s all down to who you’re giving it to.
So even though this won’t be either a definitive nor exhaustive list, come with me as we generalise an entire industry, and I deliver my assigned word count.
Birthday Qween Card, Rumble Cards
How About a Funny Birthday Card?
We ALL love to laugh (yes, even you), and after this thunderf*ck of the past year or so, I reckon we need a giggle now more than ever.
Naturally, there are many different types of humour – some people belly laugh at a simple d*ck joke, some like a witty pun to give them a chuckle, whilst others can have hours of tittering over a Minion meme – “I bet none of my friends will re-post this…”. You’re damn right I won’t, you little yellow, one-eyed pr*ck.
Anyway, I digress. Birthday cards are pretty much the one occasion where humour almost always works. For example, a funny New Home card isn’t too appropriate if they’ve recently been made homeless. A more straight-laced Wedding card might be better suited if they’re marrying an utter *rsehole and are essentially signing their life away in exchange for a Groundhog Day-esque universe of asking “what’s for dinner tonight?” and rare, vanilla s*x. With Sympathy cards, we’re better off staying away from humour all together (however see our ‘Top 10 Rudest Condolence Cards’ article).
Don’t forget, laughter is actually a form of exercise – sciencey people have proven that a good chuckle lowers blood pressure, boosts your T-cells which fight off sickness, and gives loads of your muscles, including your abs, a good workout – so you’re not just sending a funny card, you’re giving the gift of potential weight-loss. You’re welcome!
Born On This Day Card, Deadpan
Finding the Right Look
Unless you're a graphic designer, you likely have NO IDEA just how important font is. But selecting the most appropriate text style for a card is vital to convey the message clearly and successfully.
Imagine you receive an email from your company’s CEO, regrettably explaining that they’ve had to take the unfortunate decision to make some redundancies. Awful, right? Well now imagine that email has been sent using Comic Sans (the horror). You would question the entire magnitude and validity of the email, wouldn’t you?
Take The Avengers’ movie logo. What do you think of? Strength, heroism, companionship? The large, bold letters, with their sharp edges and glistening metallic tones reflect everything it means to be a world-saving superhero. Now picture that same logo using Times New Roman. You’d think the designers at Marvel were having a nervous breakdown.
Never underestimate how a card’s text style can differentiate it from looking like Word Art to world art. That extra shadowing, textured fill, outline or gradient has made all the difference in the card’s overall aesthetic quality, and has been a decision some poor schmuck's been sweating over for hours!
I’m told even the card thickness is highly deliberated and considered, but I’m going to be totally honest, I can’t bring myself to talk about this – I’d truly lose the will to live. I didn’t go to uni for 4 years and put myself in massive debt just to talk about f*cking cardboard. I honestly feel like if I start researching different thicknesses of paper, I’d start questioning my entire life’s trajectory. Plus, I thought GSM was something I took once at a moonlight beach party in Ayia Napa.
Seeing as we can’t have music (no, we will NEVER sell a card that plays the Only Fools and Horses theme tune, stop asking), colour is what brings the card to life. Vibrant neons, soft watercolours, delicious pastels and stark bolds – even the use of white space – all play an integral role in how we are invited and absorbed into a card’s magic. Believe it or not, even the colour of poop (yes, we have cards with poop on them) have been carefully debated and selected. So next time you’re looking at a poop card, take comfort in the fact someone has trawled through literally hundreds of shades of brown just to get that perfect sh*t-tone.
Another Year Another Crap Birthday Card, Studio Boketto
And Now for that Personal Touch to Make Them Feel Totally Seen!
When buying someone a birthday card we all strive to find that one design that screams their name as soon as we see it.
A RuPaul card is perfect for that finger-snapping, tongue-popping, drag-loving mate of yours (and also a great option for your homophobic uncle). A beautifully hand-painted countryside scene from the National Gallery might sit in prize position on your nan’s mantel piece for months. Whilst a fun googly-eyed, fuzzy-haired monster might make your little nephew shriek with joy! But sometimes, a birthday card eloquently reminding that geriatric relation of yours that they’re one year closer to death is all you really need.
The difficulty comes when you’re buying a birthday card through social expectations: a distant relative you’ve met twice during your whole existence, or a work colleague whose name you only know because of their email address. Do they like cats? What TV shows do they watch? Do they even own a TV? What colours do they like? Are they colour blind? Do they even have eyes??!
In these situations, a more simple, generic card is usually the safest option. An attractive ‘Happy Birthday’ message set upon a delightful, inoffensive selection of colours, tones and textures will usually fit the brief. You can even choose one that’s got some foil design, or a bit of glitter on it, just to show them you haven’t been a total cheapskate!
Whether it’s pop culture, silly puns, beautiful art pieces, d*ck jokes or cards COVERED in glitter to symbolise your wealth, we at Scribbler believe a decent, diverse range of birthday cards is key, because much like size 12 jeans in Primark, we’re all different!
But don’t take my word for it - as frankly, I’m known to be untrustworthy - so have a browse of all our wonderful birthday cards and don’t forget you can choose ANY 4 cards for just £9.99, both online and in store!
A big thanks to our guest contributor Ben for imparting on us his best card buying wisdom. If you want some in person advice, you can usually find him strutting about our Manchester store like he runs the place... Mostly because he does!