November 8, 2021 • Sarah Schwartz
Natural Selection

Mood Food crystals

Our annual abecedary revolves around solace, reinterpretation and connection.

In times like these, when there is no shortage of drama and dissent in the air, that which connects us is infused with renewed importance. That is definitely behind the resurgence of stationery categories, from journaling to DIY, and certainly the case with greeting cards.

During the 2020 holiday season, the Chicago Tribune reported that Paper Source saw a tenfold increase in online greeting card sales that year, while Hallmark’s Chief Marketing Officer, Lindsey Roy, reported a threefold increase on hallmark.com. Both referenced themes of connection, encouragement and gratitude as selling especially strong.

But that was nearly a year ago. Where is the American mindset these days? My gut tells me that consumers are responding to anything that feels authentic, artful and healing — and perhaps make us pause to consider our surroundings with fresh eyes. In some regards, the stationery and gift markets are as accessible as I’ve ever seen them, yet they still manage to be full of surprises, as you’ll see for yourself.

A. Aromatherapy.

This fragrant practice is back, but it looks a little differently this go-round, with extra attention lavished on packaging and presentation.

Madison + Green's Rise & Refresh Collection
Madison + Green

B. Backs of Cards.

If this space is not being well-utilized, the design process is not yet done!


C. Calendars, Revisited.

The natural world impacts how we move through time — now it also impacts our stationery for tracking it.

Denim Paper Calendar from Margins

D. Dressed-up DIY.

With so many mass-merchandised DIY offerings, seek that which differentiates itself with superior materials, design and styling.

Cactus Painting from Coloready

E. Empowerment.

Makers are finding opportunities to uplift the mood and self-confidence where ever they can.

Soapy Gnome's Affirmation Line
Soapy Gnome

F. Found Elements, Reconstructed.

In the hands of talented makers, that which we don’t typically look at twice is lavished with care and artistry to be appreciated anew.

Sending Life Leaf from Tiny and Snail
Tiny and Snail

G. Gradients.

These texture-rich backgrounds add just the right amount of pop to the message.

Greeting Card from Sublime & Co.
Sublime & Co.

H. Hair Accessories.

Masks are a hot-button topic, so upscale finds to crown one’s locks provide a most welcome distraction.

Strawberry Hair Accessories from Centinelle

I. Intra-Entrepreneurial Mail.

Here’s an idea whose time has come — greeting cards designed specifically to be exchanged founder to founder.

Best Client Ever Card from Kitty Meow Boutique
Kitty Meow Boutique

J. Juneteenth.

We have a new national holiday — which means a new card category as well!

Juneteenth Card from Pineapple Sundays Design Studio
Pineapple Sundays Design Studio

K. Kitaboshi.

When it comes to design, America is slowly turning Japanese, so don’t be surprised to get acquainted with a classic Japanese house of stationery or two!

Hot Cool Tokyo
Hot Cool Tokyo

L. Listen Up.

Great design should stimulate all the senses, so include that which delves into sound in your merchandise mix.

Smile Songs
Smile Songs

M. Magic.

We can all use a bit of this — especially when sent from one person to another in letter form.

Hilary Meehan's Magic is Real Card
Hilary Meehan

N. New Life to Old Games.

Revisiting and reinterpreting classic forms is happening throughout the gift and stationery markets. Childhood favorites are definitely not immune!

Primitives by Kathy
Primitives by Kathy

O. O Come All You Snarky.

Holiday humor has a definite and distinctive millennial edge to it.

Spaghetti & Meatballs
Spaghetti & Meatballs

P. Plaid.

These age-old Scottish patterns, originally called tartans, once denoted regional clans, but these days you’ll find them deconstructed and once again looking fresh.

Holiday Card Haute Papier
Haute Papier

Q. Quotes.

Just the right witticism or tidbit of wisdom inspires the sale and sending of many a well-written card.

She Said It
She Said It

R. Really Cool Pet Accessories.

Our pets are often extensions of ourselves, and as such, their fittings should be appropriately brilliant!

Kitty Kardboard
Kitty Kardboard

S. Support.

While much of this is dispensed in snail mail form, makers are cleverly integrating it into our daily routines via stickers.


T. Tik Tok.

Thanks to a nonstop supply of would-be influencers, this social media app has turned the digital world on its ear — and it’s now even influencing stationery!

TikTok Queen Card from Parcel Island
Parcel Island

U. Ultra Carb Love.

It makes perfect sense that the baked goods trend comes on the heels of the taco trend.

Emily Rae Carlson Paper Goods
Emily Rae Carlson Paper Goods

V. Vaxxed.

Any controversy will eventually show its face on stationery; getting vaccinated is no different!

Rhino Parade
Rhino Parade

W. Wellness.

Fragrant bath and body finds will always be a strong customer draw; that draw strengthens when special attention is lavished on optics.


X. Xtra-saturated Pastels.

There is something dreamy, eternal and ethereal about this palette, so don’t be surprised when it sticks around for a while.


Y. Youthful Pursuits.

Once you hit 30 or so, your early years become the stuff of nostalgia, making it prime fodder for a savvy maker!

Pinky Weber
Pinky Weber

Z. Zeroing In.

A fresh perspective to the everyday is always welcome — you never know when a simple object may change how you see your world!

Rachel Alvarez Art
Rachel Alvarez Art

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