How to Make Your Own Birthday Card

My 3-Step Tutorial for Creating Professional, Custom-Designed Greeting Cards

Conventional greeting cards have earned their reputation as hasty, last-minute gifts. They are picked up at Walgreens on the way to the party, and often bear tone, sentiment or imagery that fails to complement the recipient or occasion.

Indeed, your chances of finding anything unique or personalized on the shelves of the Hallmark aisle are slim to none.

Luckily, there’s another way–and it’s easier than you might think!

This tutorial will guide you through the process of creating your own greeting card. Whether you are celebrating a birthday or expressing your condolences, these basic steps are all you need to create a card that is memorable and special.

Before Starting This Tutorial…

The design process described here requires a computer, and uses image-editing software to complete.

If you have never used such software before, this may be a difficult endeavor for you. But if you’re willing to practice and learn, it shouldn’t take more than a few hours to get up and running with your design.

Also, I have provided some resources to help get you started.


Required Tools

1. Computer w/ Internet Access

2. Image-Editing Software

Adobe Photoshop (Free Trial Available)
GIMP (Free to Use)
Corel Photo-Paint (Free Trial Available)

3. Bone Folder (Optional)

Estimated Costs ($7 – $16)

Professional Printing Services ($3 – $10)

Envelope ($1 – $3)

Bone Folder ($4 – $6)

Step 1: Designing Your Card

Follow the Standards of Good Card Design

• Give your card a border, inside and out. Borders direct the eye by framing the image (and they look really nice too!)

• Use thoughtful, concise text. Start on the front to spark the reader’s interest, then finish inside with a satisfying conclusion!

• Consider using photos or other images; your card should probably use at least one.

• Consider your card’s tone–should it be humorous, sentimental, sympathetic, etc. ?
Be sure to use design elements and text that compliment your tone.


Consider the person your card is for and use design elements related to him/her.

• What are their interests and hobbies?

• What specific events are taking place in their life right now?

• Consider your relationship with them; are there any inside jokes or personal connections you can play off of?

NOTE: Be careful not to be too personal.
Make sure the card you make is something the recipient will feel comfortable sharing with friends and family!

For Example, Here’s a Card I Made

This was a birthday card I made for my friend; she was turning 27, and she’s a big Taylor Swift fan.

Take Note:

• I chose a border and color scheme consistent with the tone and personality of the occasion.

• I included an image and printed text

• I used the standard format and style for my text, while incorporating details of her personality
and the occasion.

Step 2: Printing Your Card

Use a Professional Printing Service

While it is certainly possible to print out your card on your own home printer,
I strongly recommend you take advantage of a professional service.

Here Are 3 Reasons Why:

1. Printing Cards Yourself is More Difficult Than You Expect

Both your printer and image-editing software will need to be up to date and have the correct settings to achieve the best results. Your card will need to be printed precisely in the center of the page, such that you can flip it over to print the other side correctly. And once it prints, you will also have to cut the borders off yourself.

By all means, try this out if you wish and see how it looks–but trust me that it can be a big pain!

2. Professional Printing is Convenient & Very Affordable

At most printing shops, you can get 3-5 cards printed and cut for under $10.00.
Need the perfect-sized envelope? They have those too!

3. They Can Do It Better

Unless you have a top-notch home printer, the industrial printers used by the pros will provide much higher print and color quality.
Note: the range of colors that any given printer is capable of making is limited by its ink cartridge.

The last thing you want is to see your beautifully designed card printed out with the wrong colors or shoddy quality!

Basic Printing Steps:

1. Find a local printing shop (search online)

2. Visit their website (or call them) to verify that they can print your card;
make sure they can use high-quality cardstock.

3. Provide them your design in their preferred file format (e.g. JPEG, PDF, etc.);
you will typically provide this through email or the printer’s website

4. Select your card size (w/ corresponding envelope) and paper type;
the print shop should provide paper samples for you to see and feel.

5. Print at least 2 cards; they are cheap enough that I suggest 3-5.
The reasoning here is simply to have backups in case you make a mistake folding or with your handwriting.
You’ll also want a copy to keep for yourself!

6. After printing, ask them to cut off the borders for you. They have a special tool for doing this that creates perfect cuts.

7. Some shops offer a scoring + folding service for an additional charge;
But I always recommend using a bone folder to complete the fold yourself.
Note: If you do choose to fold yourself, be sure to clarify this with the shop!

8. Finally, don’t forget your envelope!

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Folding Your Card

Bone Folders are an essential tool for completing a professional card. Their purpose is to score along the crease where your card folds in half, allowing for a neat, clean line.

Professional greeting cards are made out of card stock, which is much thicker than conventional inkjet paper. As a result, folding them without first creating a score will cause the paper to splinter and wrinkle, which is quite unappealing.

Bone folders are very easy to use and are available at most craft stores.
Here is a great video tutorial that shows you what to do.


Hand-written Sentiments

Now that your card has been designed, printed and folded, there’s only one major step remaining! Few things in this life are more personal than kind, hand-written words. You know what to say better than I do, but here are some basic tips:

• Use a high-quality pen; avoid markers or anything that bleeds heavily.

• Address the recipient by his/her name, and be sure to sign yours at the end.

• Be creative, thoughtful and have fun!

• Don’t worry about mistakes–you printed backup cards, right??


Seal the Deal

1. Place your completed card in its envelope.

2. Seal it closed.

3. Write the recipient’s name on the front.

And that’s it–You’re DONE!

Thanks For Reading!

I hope you found this tutorial useful and were able to follow along to make your very own greeting card.