I have to start off by giving credit for this post to my amazingly organized mother! Amongst our friends and family, my mother is notorious for never missing a birthday or anniversary. While some of that is definitely the product of her stellar organizational skills, she also seems to have a special section of her brain specifically reserved for important dates (and, impressively, phone numbers).
My mother kept a birthday card organizer when I was growing up, long before anyone thought to market the idea. If you are someone who likes to send people cards on their birthdays (and sadly, fewer people are doing so in this digital age), this organizer is a great way to save time and money!
Sending a greeting card by mail is a small gesture that will go a long way. Usually the only mail I get consists of bills and junk. Imagine how someone's day could be brightened by unexpectedly discovering a card from a friend or relative tucked in amongst the rest of the disappointing mail. Sure, its still nice to show some love on social media through a Facebook post, or to send a goofy birthday Bitmoji, but nothing can replace the tangible feeling of a card. Also, you can't keep a text or post the same way you can keep a card.
I found this 13-pocket expandable file folder on sale at Target! It's a hard, pale pink cardboard with a metallic gold trim and gold closure button.
I used my favorite all-purpose white labels to assign a different month to each pocket.
Using Microsoft Word, I made a simple cheat sheet to keep all of my important dates in one location. These sheets are stored in the last pocket, along with a sheet of stamps.
How to use this organizer effectively:
Save money by buying cards when they are on sale
Stores like Hallmark and Greetings & Readings often run sales or release coupons. These sales are usually not super effective when you are buying one or two cards at a time, but can be pretty significant if you are buying in bulk. Find a good sale (or a good coupon) and stock up on birthday cards for the next few months! (Also, PartyCity has a discount card section and the Dollar Store sells cards for...you guessed it, a dollar!)
Save time by addressing envelopes ahead of time
Carve out an hour or so on a rainy weekend to address and stamp all of your envelopes at once. You are far more likely to send a card that has a pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelope already waiting for you.
Save time by signing cards in advance
There are some cards you may want to write shortly before the actual date, but others can probably be written ahead of time. Writing a card in advance doesn't make the sentiment any less genuine, so don't feel bad about maximizing your time in this way. As I said before, the person in question will probably be pretty surprised and grateful to receive a mailed card in the first place.
Never miss an important date
There are certain routines I have for the beginning of each month (paying bills, setting up my planner, cleaning certain things in my apartment, etc), and this can be easily added to my monthly to-do list. At the beginning of each month, or the end of the previous month, reach into the next section and grab all of the cards that you've already purchased, sorted, addressed, and stamped. If there are any that still need to be signed, do so. Leave the cards in a prominent location (by the door, on a desk, in the kitchen) where they are easy to grab on your way out the door to the mailbox. If someone has a birthday early in the month, you may want to include his/her card in the previous month's section.
Of course, you don't have to mail the cards if you are going to see someone in person, but like I said, it is always a great feeling to find something special in the mailbox.