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How to Design a Greetings Card: 7 Golden Rules

How to Design a Greetings Card: 7 Golden Rules

Read Time: 4 Minutes


31 Oct 2019

Think greetings cards are a thing of the past? Think again. With the UK spending as much as £1.4 billion a year on greetings cards, it’s a huge, booming industry with scope for even more growth in the future. But in such a saturated market, how do you come up with fresh designs that sit your cards a cut above the rest? 

Whether you decide to sell them or send them, we’ve gathered our ultimate tips to creating unbeatable greetings card designs your customers won’t be able to resist.


  1. Research, Research, Research

    Before you even put pen to paper, the very first thing you’ll need to do is figure out what kinds of cards your customers want. Look at the latest graphic design trends and figure out how you can create a card design that reflects these but has your own personal spin, or look at what isn’t being done yet – is there a popular TV show with quotes that’d make pun-filled cards? Or maybe there’s something happening in the news that would make a relatable design? 

    Finding your niche and the direction you want to go in will help in creating a strong brand for your business card, stationery or gift selling business.

    Graphic design trends we’re starting to see rising in popularity right now include minimalism (think stark cards with one or two graphic elements like the card below), asymmetric layouts and bold colours.

    (Fragola Designs)

  2. Choose Your Card

    With online greetings card printing, there are so many customisation options to choose from, and the type of card you choose will determine certain aspects of your card’s design.

    First, you need to choose your size. A5 is the standard greetings card size, but smaller cards like A6 are another popular option. For something a little different, square cards are great for modern designs. DL size is standard envelope shape, meaning these cards are specially designed for sending in the post.

    (Ohh Deer)

    Once you’ve chosen your perfect size, it’s time to choose a stock – that’s the material a card is printed on. Premium silks are always a good option, but limit writing to just ball point pens. If you want customers to be able to write with any utensil, uncoated writable stocks are your best bet. 

    (Rifle Paper Co.)

    Or do you want to create something that’s in a league of its own? (We already know the answer: of course you do!) Ice Gold stock shimmers in the light to create a pearlescent glow – great for Christmas cards. Kraft is a brown stock, which is best if you want to create a handmade, DIY kind of style – this one looks best with dark, block colours that really show off the texture of the card.

    (Hen Pen Paper Co.)

    Environmentally friendly cards are also seeing a massive upward trend. Recycled cards are uncoated, meaning once the occasion is over, they can be recycled again!

    You know exactly what your brand is and what customers want and expect from your card, so we’ll leave you to do the choosing.

  3. Pick Complementary Colours

    Not only do the colours you choose need to be complementary (go together), they also need to match the greetings card occasion. Here are a few colour suggestions for different types of cards.

    Christmas Card Colours
    There are the obvious reds and greens we all know and associate with Christmas, but we think there’s plenty of room for icy blues too! This Christmas card design uses jewel tones with ruby, emerald and gold to create a winter-y northern lights vibe that is a whole world away from the Father Christmases and candy canes we’re so used to.

    (Samantha’s Creative Cards)

    Birthday Card Colours
    You’ve got a lot more room to play with colours when it comes to birthday cards, as pretty much anything goes! Since it’s such a happy occasion, bright shades are always a popular option, like this rainbow sprinkles birthday card design.

    (Jen Shults)

    Wedding Card Colours
    For wedding cards – either as invites or to send your congratulations to the happy couple – anything floral and watercolour (like the example below) is extremely popular. However, we have also seen a recent rise in rich jewel tones, marble backgrounds and geometric shapes. Check out the hottest wedding stationery trends for 2019 here.

    (Down in the Boon Docks)

  4. Find a Font

    Your font choice is really important for defining the character of your card – is it quirky? Is it bold? Is it elegant? Certain fonts connote certain things, and it’s important to find the right one for your greetings card design.

    Cursive fonts, like the one below, are popular for wedding, sympathy and any other card that needs a personal, handwritten look. They give cards a polished, elegant look with a more serious tone.

    (Rifle Paper Co.)

    Comedic or quirky cards will normally go one of two ways: simple capital letters.


    Or newspaper-style fonts like a Helvetica or Times New Roman.


    For children’s cards, keep fonts bold and clear, especially if they’re targeted at those just learning to read!


  5. Write the Perfect Message

    The message is the whole point of your card, whether it’s a heartfelt Mother’s Day message or the punchline of the joke you started on the cover. Trying to find the perfect words can be tricky, especially if it’s not your strong suit. Not to fear – we’ve thought up 43 things to write in a greetings card; there’s a message for every tone of voice and occasion, so you’re sure to find the perfect message for your greetings card.

    (Endless Creations & Everyday Cards)

  6. Personalise It!

    Creating your own personalised greetings cards is a great way to stand out from the competition, especially if you’re designing cards for special celebrations like weddings. There are loads of little extras you can add to your cards once you’ve printed them to personalise them, like writing names in a calligraphy style font. Here are just a few ideas to spark your creativity.

    Embellish with Decorations
    Adding ribbons and sticking other decorations on is a fantastic way to personalise your printed greetings card. This sunflower card example uses this technique brilliantly! Top tip: when you create your design, keep in mind where you’re going to add embellishments after your cards have been printed.


    Stamp a Pattern
    You can use all kinds of things to add a beautiful stamped pattern to your design. One of our favourite techniques is to dip flowers in paint and create a stamp out of them! This gives such an effective DIY look and it lets you add a 3D element to your cards.

    (Nurture Store)

    Draw Personalised Illustrations
    Especially popular for wedding save the dates and invitations, leaving space for personalised illustrations is another great way to give your cards a unique edge and could be a definite winning factor for a greeting card business. This example features the happy couple front and centre as illustrated versions of themselves; a perfect keepsake for their guests.

    (Wedding Manage)

  7. Choose Your Envelopes

    Now you’ve created the perfect card design for your business, it’s time to choose your envelopes – AKA the all-important first impression. For an affordable, plain white envelope with a short tab, standard envelopes are your best choice. These envelopes are best for bulk buying or cheaper brands. 

    Luxury envelopes are a crisp white just like standard ones, but they’re a thicker, more impressive paper stock with a longer tab, making them the supreme choice for a quality greeting card. 

    If you want something a little brighter and more festive, red is the only way to go!


We hope our tips have turned your creative brain on and that you’re raring to go! You can print your own greetings cards with instantprint here. Or, if you still need some more inspiration, check out our top 14 free greetings card design templates.

Beth Harper

About the Author

Hi, I’m Beth, an Artworker on the instantprint Studio team. I combine my passion for graphic design with my love of print to create useful content to help you achieve perfect print results!