Special occasion coming up? Need a present with pizzazz? Give more than a card and a boxed gift; make the card a unique, memorable gift. Here are a few ideas that show how versatile greeting card software can be when it comes time to give that special gift.

Empty Nest, Empty Mailbox

Give a set of ready-to-mail greeting cards to someone who needs a little help getting organized; this is a particularly handy gift for new college students or young adults far from home. Include family birthday cards for a year, Mother's Day and Father's Day cards and a few other holiday cards. Add stamps and address envelopes so cards are ready to drop in the mail right after being signed.

Store the greeting cards in unsealed envelopes in a closeable folder. Don't forget to include a calendar marked with birthdays so your student will know just when to mail each card. You can even make a birthday calendar with greeting card software. 

If a gift pack filled with prepared greeting cards doesn't motivate your student to write home, here's a trick that will. Write a warm, newsy greeting card and near the bottom mention, "I've enclosed a check to help you with school expenses." Then mail your greeting card without the check. You can bet your boutonniere that your busy student will take the time to respond warmly to your card and remind you that you forgot to enclose the check. (Just don't answer the phone for a few days to force the written plea for money.)

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

For memorable homecomings, use your greeting card software to make a long "Welcome Home" banner for your loved one. Have everyone sign the banner in colorful crayon or magic marker, then display it in the front yard.

Also, consider a greeting card floral arrangement when you just can't say it all in a single greeting card. Tape a dozen colorful, signed greeting cards to floral wire and arrange them in a flower vase garnished with yellow ribbon. This bouquet of words lasts far longer than flowers.

Give your reunited family member or friend a custom-made, professional-looking certificate touting any honor you'd care to bestow Best Military Mom or Most Amazing Undergraduate then detail the reason for honors in the fine print.

Valentine's Delight, Anniversary Bliss

For romantics, write and deliver a formal invitation for an evening out on the town. Or create your own personalized menu featuring a homemade, candlelit dinner.

Here's another option dot your significant other's car, workplace and home with rhyming romantic clue cards that lead your loved one on a treasure hunt to find a gift.

For the adventurous, make a movie poster featuring your loved one in an action film or romance flick, then act out your favorite mushy scenes together. And you don't have to wait for your anniversary or Valentine's Day try these ideas in the off-season just for fun and the gift will be a true surprise.

Mother's Day and Father's Day

All mom or dad want on their special day is to be appreciated, assisted and occasionally pampered. You can accomplish this inexpensively in dozens of ways. Kids can make a custom T-shirt for dad or mom using greeting card software elements and iron-on transfer paper. (Or make matching T-shirts for the whole family.)

A coupon book is always a hit (provided that kids offer the promised services whole heartedly and on demand). Let children give dad and grandpa coupons for a free garage cleaning or lawn mowing, and give mom and grandma coupons for free household chores. And moms always appreciate free babysitting coupons. Or pamper her make mom a lovely coupon for a manicure and pedicure or new hairstyle courtesy of a talented teen or family friend. Teens can give dad a coupon for a movie or dinner night out with them.

Some greeting card programs include help for creating your own webpage a website filled with recent photos is a treasure trove for grandmas and grandpas who are far away.

Or if you want to give a traditional wrapped-in-paper gift, try this for grandma or mom: a kitchen apron featuring greetings from the kids or grandkids (complete with small photos) is always a hit. Using greeting card software, print photos and greeting card graphics onto iron-on transfer paper, cut out, arrange and iron these onto a white cotton apron (the basic aprons that restaurant cooks wear from neck to knee work best). Tie it all together with a message like this: Grandma's Flower Garden. Take the theme a step further by cutting facial photos into a floral shape before ironing.

Christmas Chaos, Hanukah Help

The year-end holidays are times for tradition and memory making. Don't stress and overspend; prepare early and consolidate instead. Give holiday greeting cards that double as bookmarks, little wall hangings or even Christmas tree ornaments. Favorite holiday trinkets include photos of yourself or your family.

If you have more time to invest in festive gift giving, prepare a digital photo slideshow or video CD of the family's year and use your greeting card software to print a custom CD label. Or, create a big, colorful birthday calendar for the extended family featuring family photos from the previous year. Mark all the birthdays and events throughout the year for a gift that will be used again and again.

For children, you can make custom coloring books from their favorite clip art images, or print a set of paper hand puppets. Make clever, custom coupon books for teenagers to redeem: Coupons good for a free round-trip to the mall with a friend. These simple, inexpensive gifts are easy to create with greeting card software, but because you've invested time thinking these through to fit a child's specific needs, many will remember these unusual, homemade gifts far longer than they'll remember toys. You'll save money, yet still give an appreciated gift.

Celebration Simplicity

From the annual birthday party to quirky events like Groundhog Day, you can be as creative as you imagine. Give a personalized card gift though inexpensive, these little gifts hold value longer than impersonal store-bought presents since you've invested your time, creativity and thoughtfulness. And that's the most valuable gift of all.

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