Creative Cards: Experts Offer Tips On Expressing Style In Valentine Greetings

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From Family Features

We live in an age when the Internet and mass media provide access to the latest trends at the click of a mouse or the touch of a remote. As a result, people want their homes, their fashions and even their holiday celebrations to reflect their individual style and personality.

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Valentine's Day isn't just for couples. There are selections for family and friends and even cards that joke about being single.

Luckily, this Valentine's Day there are more ways than ever to say "I love you" with creativity and flair.

There's good news for the unattached, too. Valentine's Day used to be the most dreaded day of the year for those who were not part of a couple. Social changes, like women marrying later, have been helped along by the influence of fictional icons like "Bridget Jones" and "Carrie Bradshaw." In today's world, being single no longer relegates women to second-class status. In fact, many women use the occasion as an excuse to celebrate their friendships with a girls' night dinner party.

American Greetings offers special cards for singles, ranging from irreverent anti-Valentine's Day messages to sincere expressions of friendship. "True friends nurture the spirit and revitalize the soul," says one card. Another downplays the perceived seriousness of the day with the words: "Happy Feb. 14th" on the front. Inside, the message continues: "Oh, and have a nice Valentine's Day."

"From the turn of the century all the way through the '40s and '50s, Valentine's Day remained a pretty traditional romantic holiday," said Nicole Fraser, senior creative consultant at American Greetings, "It was all about cards with cupids, flowers and rhyming verses and presenting those big, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. However, beginning in the '60s, people began to think of Valentine's Day as a day to express love to anyone important in their lives. Over the years, that trend has continued, and today, nearly 40 percent of all valentines are sent to other family members and friends.

"Exchanging school valentines has also become an American tradition. For most children, decorating Valentine's Day shoeboxes or paper bags and signing and delivering valentines to classmates will be one of the first times they will express their appreciation to others with a card."

How to Find, Personalize and Present a Valentine That's "You"

Romance is still a big part of the day, of course. The difference is that now there are cards for every conceivable stage of a relationship, from those who are just flirting, to new couples, to those who are deeply committed and in love. Today's relationships are far removed from quaint little Cupid and his bow and arrow; now cards paint a much more authentic picture of real-life relationships. The artwork and messages are as diverse as the people who send them.

Are you a romantic who wants to express your deepest emotions? Romance will never go out of style. This year, heartfelt, romantic cards are as diverse as the people sending them. For instance, one of American Greetings' new cards says, "Hands are meant to be held. Lips are meant to be kissed. Words are meant to be spoken. Dreams are meant to come true. You and I are meant for each other."

If your style is short and sweet, you might opt instead for one that pictures raffle tickets on the front, and says: "I won the prize, Happy Valentine's Day."

Are you in a new relationship? You could select a card in the nontraditional color of Tiffany blue with a heart composed of brown velvet dots with the simple words: "You're my boyfriend. I love saying that."

Looking for a slightly sultry card as a prelude to a romantic evening at home? American Greetings offers one that reads: "My husband. My hottie. Be mine ... today, tonight, 'til the end of time. Love you."

To make the most impact, take a few minutes to write a personal message. If you're having trouble getting started, consider these tips:

  • Don't get too hung up on how to say it. This is a love note for the most romantic day of the year. Express how you feel in a way that sounds natural and right for you, and it will be wonderful.
  • Start by making fun lists:
  • Things you love about your valentine, like "your hot, passionate kisses" or "what a wonderful father you are to our children"
  • Things the two of you love doing together
  • Private jokes, nicknames or code words
  • Favorite memories starting with how you met
  • Don't stop after finding just the right card and declaring your feelings inside.

Get creative with the presentation. The unexpected surprise of discovering a card in a briefcase or the special delivery of a valentine with a single red rose on the bed pillow is sure to delight.

And if you can't find the right commercial card, take some time to make one by hand. Pick up a magazine or book on card making for guidance. Have fun.

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