Why Greeting Cards Are So ... Special

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Yahoo has an interview with someone who writes greeting cards for a living.  The section on word choice is fascinating:


We tried to avoid 'soul mate terminology' because you don't know how well a couple is going to know each other or how well they're getting along. Some one might not feel comfortable using the word 'love' which is where the word 'special' comes in. You'll see that again and again on greeting cards: "for a special mom" or "for a special person." The word special can mean anything from "you're the most beautiful person to me" to "I'm glad I don't live that close to you anymore."

Getting married has been an interesting exploration of different greeting card strategies.  My father's family sends whimsical, funny cards.  My mother's family is apt to forego them entirely (except for my grandmother, who doesn't write notes, but does underline key words).  My husband's family sends cards, often blank, with long, lovely messages in them.  My husband himself is eerily skilled at finding adorable, highly specialized cards and gifts.  My personal favorite: 


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The greeting card market has to cater to all of those styles--except, of course, for those of us who just sullenly feel bad about our inability to come up with whimsical, adorable messages.  And so you end up with . . . A Very Special Greeting Card.

The ones that still puzzle me, however, are the ones for spouses.  There are just as many Very Special Wife cards as there are for friends, siblings, and great-granddaughters.  Surely by the time you've stopped wanting to tell your spouse that you love them, you've also stopped wanting to spend $5.00 on a greeting card?

More tricks for broadening greeting card appeal at the link, from excising the word "I" to putting animals instead of people on the front.  Interesting throughout.
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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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