An Experts’ Guide to Gifting Custom Stationery

Stationery by Salt + Paperie. Photography by Salt + Paperie.

When a standout gift is called for, a beautiful set of custom stationery can be the perfect solution. And while it does require advanced planning (as all personalized presents do), when guided by an expert, the process of selecting the ideal look and format can be an enjoyable creative exercise that yields wonderful and one-of-a-kind results. To help those who might be thinking about gifting papers get started, we reached out to four stationery experts across the country for guidance. Here, they share recommendations on how to create custom stationery that is sure to be well-received.

When in doubt, think timeless. If you’re feeling unsure about a creative direction, Jacki Gil, owner of Salt and Paperie in Huntsville, Alabama, advises selecting stationery designed with classic fonts. For the traditionalist, she recommends choosing single, double, or triple monogram lettering inside a wreath. For an individual who is little more modern or edgy, she suggests choosing a design that’s more clean and simplistic.

Stationery by Mesh by Alex. Photography courtesy of Mesh by Alex.

Consider incorporating a custom personal element. In addition to including the monogram or name, Gil notes that personalization can go well beyond the stationery recipient’s moniker. “Right now, our most popular item is a custom drawing of someone’s house or puppy on folded notecards,” she says. Alex Schwenke, owner/designer of Mesh by Alex in Houston, Texas, which specializes in custom wedding invitations, recommends drilling down on the preferences of the giftee to come up with a custom design element. Do they have an affinity for owls? Enjoy wild game hunting? Have a quirky nickname that conveys itself to a graphic element? Spend some time thinking about their personality and quirks, and chances are inspiration will come to you.

Stationery by Missing Q Press. Photography by Missing Q Press.

Learn about the different printing methods. “Creating personal stationery for someone as a gift is one of the most creative and thoughtful presents for the person who has everything,” Jason McDaniel, principal/creative director at Missing Q Press in Dallas, Texas, says, noting that quality and artistry in the process matters (for example, Missing Q Press prints their stationery by hand on one of their eight vintage presses using custom created dyes and hand-mixed inks). Fine stationery is generally printed using letterpress, engraving, or foil printing. The other types—flat, digital, thermography—are sometimes less expensive, he explains, but you won’t achieve the same tactile feel and quality.

Pick the right paper. “The paper used for fine stationery is generally printed on uncoated stock that is primarily cotton, although different brands will vary on the fiber/cotton content,” McDaniel explains. “The current trend is two-ply (double-thick) stock that can be hand beveled/painted and gives the card a nice, quality feel.” However, if someone prefers to write with a fountain or ballpoint pen, McDaniel advises choosing a single-ply sheet or a writing sheet, as the vellum finish on those options is a bit smoother and doesn’t absorb ink or smear.

Know that semi-customization is an option. Gifting personalized stationery doesn’t necessarily have to break the bank. Many businesses, such as Schwenke’s, offer a semi-custom line of stationery that can feel just as special. “I created designs that are mostly inspired by the grand millennial aesthetic, capturing classic and widely recognized floral and pattern with my own spin,” she says. Do keep in mind when ordering custom, and even semi-custom, that personalization takes time, so be sure to plan ahead.

Stationery by Shindig Paperie. Photography by Tanja Heffner.

Gift a bundle. Your stationery gifting is not limited to a set of note cards, Trisha Logan and Christy Smith, co-owners of Shindig Paperie in Fayetteville, Arkansas, point out. “Different types of stationery have different uses,” they note. “A good bundle would include a notepad or list pad, folded notecards, flat notecards, and small gift enclosure cards.” This combination of papers will bring joy to even such mundane tasks as making a grocery list.

Add extra personality on the envelope. When creating stationery, your creativity isn’t limited to the notecard. You can add color and personality to the envelope liners with either a solid color or a pattern, Logan and Smith advise. Just keep in mind that these extras can increase the price and production time.

Order the right amount. When gifting stationery, don’t feel pressured to present the recipient with a quantity that will last for more than a year. Instead, Logan and Smith recommend ordering in quantities of 25, which gives the person receiving the papers enough time to enjoy them but also the opportunity to switch them up should they wish.

TSG Tip 403 from Jacki Gil, owner of Salt and Paperie in Huntsville, Alabama; Jason McDaniel, principal/creative director at Missing Q Press in Dallas, Texas; Alex Schwenke, owner/designer of Mesh by Alex in Houston, Texas; and Trisha Logan and Christy Smith, co-owners of Shindig Paperie in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Salt and Paperie appears in The Scout Guide Huntsville. Missing Q Press appears in The Scout Guide Dallas. Mesh by Alex appears in The Scout Guide Houston. Shindig Paperie appears in The Scout Guide Northwest Arkansas. Find a local stationery expert near you in The Scout Guide Directory.