Making the Most of 49 Cents

Make the most of your 49 cents! Small gifts that fit in a letter.(yes, I know I used this picture last week, but it just worked so well here)

Today I want to tell you the story of the Valentines that I mailed.

One of my goals for this year was to send packages to friends in February. When I originally formed this goal I figured I would send small packages to a few friends who have meant a lot to me over the years. Well, I started making the list and the names just kept coming. I realized there was no way I was going to be able to cut the list down lower than 20 people.

Then I went to CVS to brainstorm what to put in this package. Suburbs people, you probably would have gone to Target. This city girl who doesn’t have a car goes to CVS for all her conveniences. I went up and down all the aisles and came out with 6 bags of Dove chocolates, my favorite. I decided I could cut a small rectangle out of cardstock, make a calendar that showed the days of Valentines Day week, and glue one piece of chocolate to each day. Then I stopped at Staples and bought 6″ x 9″ envelopes and headed home. Once I got home I realized this was never going to work. Why? Because the second an envelope becomes thicker than 1/4″ it is considered a package and the absolute cheapest package you can ship is $2.32.  The bags of chocolate only cost $18 total, but to send these packages was going to cost $100.

I quickly realized I was going to have to make the most of the 49 cents it cost to mail a letter.  So I looked up the maximum envelope dimensions to mail what qualifies as a letter by USPS:

  • Maximum Height: 6.125″
  • Maximum Width: 11.5″
  • Maximum Thickness: 0.25″

There’s also this sentence: “the Postal Service charges extra postage because mailpieces that are rigid, square, or unusually shaped, often jam postal equipment and are difficult to process.”

I started brainstorming what sorts of things fit these requirements, and to my surprise, there were more small gifts that fit in envelopes than I expected.

Flat items to ship in a USPS letter

  1. Tattoos
  2. Stickers
  3. A pack of seeds
  4. Tea bags
  5. Patches
  6. Friendship bracelets
  7. Recipes
  8. Lottery Tickets
  9. Bookmarks
  10. Stamps

2015-02-15 2015 Valentines 02

After looking at this list, I realized my favorite of the items was tea bags (although I did consider lottery tickets for a while). Once I realized tea bags were perfect, the whole idea started coming together and I wasn’t sure how I had missed such an obvious idea in the first place. I love tea. And immediately the phrase came to me, “you warm my heart”. Because that’s exactly what all these people did in my life.

2015-02-15 2015 Valentines 01

I made cards in the shape of teacups, including the tag of the bag, and wrote individual messages to each person. Then I punched out 100s of hearts to stuff in all the envelopes (large enough to not make a completely unbearable mess when opened).  And while this sounds labor intensive (not going to lie, it was), it was totally worth it as the pictures and text messages started coming in from friends who had received their Valentine.

Chrystina Noel Teacup Cards

I wasn’t the only person who thought of this this year. I received an envelope during the middle of last week  marked “Do Not Open until Valentine’s Day”.  At 1:30am on Valentine’s Day I opened it and found one of the most awesome Valentines I’ve ever seen, also featuring tea. I can’t wait to send a card back her direction.

2015-02-15 2015 Valentines 04

PS. I remade the list of people I sent these to 3 times because I kept losing it, and in the process a handful of people got left off the list. Apologies. Please note that I don’t love you any less.

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  • Love this post, those are all great ideas for making a regular letter a little more special! The teacup valentines are adorable.

    • Thanks! They were a lot of fun to make. Also, this post totally made me want to buy an irrational amount of temporary tattoos. It happens 🙂

  • Laura Clemens

    This is so good! Another great idea from you- a great woman!

    • Thanks, Laura! I love any reason to send snail mail 🙂

  • The things you do for the people you care about makes me all gushy inside!!!

  • Those are adorable! Well done!

  • Jackie B

    That valentine is awesome! This post was super helpful for me. One of my resolutions is to send more cards/letters (I think we’ve talked about this before). I was so consumed with school during the holidays, that I didn’t send any Christmas cards this year. I promised myself I was going to send out Valentine’s Day cards — something I’ve never done before, but a great gesture nonetheless. I had to take my first board exam on Valentine’s Day and the pressure and stress from studying for that stopped me from even trying to make cards. So, I decided that I wanted to write a whole bunch “just because” cards for my friends, but I always over-think things and tend to over-do them. So I told myself to keep it simple. I like that you did the same and the research you did on what constitutes mail that USPS will send is great! So helpful. If you have any tips for just because cards, send ’em my way! I literally was in the craft store earlier today looking for stuff, but nothing really jumped out at me, so I didn’t buy anything.

    • Yay, thanks! Honestly, here’s what I’d do. I would go buy a packet of 8.5×11 white cardstock from a Joanns, Michaels, or Paper Source (like this: http://www.michaels.com/recollections-cardstock-value-pack-8.5×11/M10023428.html). Then I would go to the specialty row and pick out 3 of your favorite 12×12″ individually sold papers. Cut the 8.5×11 paper into 3 separate pieces to use as the base of your cards, and cut a piece of the colored paper to glue to the front. The card will come out to approximately 3.67″ x 4.25″, which is big enough to write a nice message, but not big enough to be overwhelming. Write your message, doodle a little bit on the back, and you’re done :).

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