It's very important in Chinese culture to be an excellent host. This might stem from the more collectivist culture. Or how highly valued relationships are. Or maybe we just spent more with retirees who had plenty of time to drink tea and lounge around with us.
Nonetheless, when we came home from our China trip, it was imperative that I send thank you notes to our relatives and friends to show our gratitude.
"If you have time, write some thank you letters to your aunts,"my dad's text to me on WeChat.
Usually, I rebel against my dad's instructions. But this time, we jumped wholeheartedly into the endeavor since Alex + I were genuinely grateful for the care and help that our family and friends offered us during our trip.
In addition to driving us everywhere and treating us to countless meals (including the Shenzhen seafood floating restaurant), our family and friends bent over backward to buy weird things for us, including a Chinese knock-off Waterpik from Taobao and Sudafed (Bai Jia Hei) from the pharmacy (Yao Dian).
Related Story: How Mobile Technology is Changing How We Eat and Pay from our experience using WeChat in China
I pictured the type of digital thank you cards I wanted to send. There would be artfully drawn Chinese calligraphy with long, flowing prose using correct grammatical Chinese writing.
I just wanted to avoid humiliating myself and my parents in the process.
My requirements were simple
- My greeting cards had to be customizable so I could put a message tailored to the recipient.
- They had to be easily replicated, which meant templating. I was not going to create 15 custom greeting cards.
- I wanted to add a photo of Alex + me in the card.
- It had to be a photo easy to send via WeChat. No eCards by email. No physical cards by snail mail.
Unfortunately, when it came time to find a good digital greeting card to customize for my relatives, there were few options to choose from.
Problem with the Chinese greeting cards on the Internet
- Most greeting cards are in English. Fail! I didn't bother searching for greeting cards in Chinese on Google or dealing with Baidu (which sucks) or Google translate.
- The pretty greeting card templates were hard to customize in their free version. For example, I found good designs on Canva for Chinese New Year cards. This seemed perfect timing for a thank you card + new year card rolled in one. But Canva is not suited for templating. Nor does the free version of Canva allow me to change the file dimensions. The images were too short to add in a photo and a few paragraphs of text.
- The digital printables greeting cards were a good inspiration but they weren't designed to put our photo and custom message on. (In case you've never heard of a "digital printable", it's a PDF file with pretty graphic design, usually made for a purpose -- like calendars, shopping lists, and kitchen labels. They're designed to print out and write on.)
How we made our own thank you cards
The solution was to use Canva and digital printables as inspirations and then make our own thank you cards.
Here's the end result.
Pretty sweet, right?
How to make your own digital greeting cards to thank your Chinese family
I assumed that you too have hit this problem, which is why you are reading this blog post. If you're in the same boat, I've included the Photoshop template for you so you can jump start your gratitude tour.
Scroll down to the end of the post for the Photoshop file.
A couple of tips for your greeting cards
Don't bother with Preview on Mac
We managed to make a greeting card using Preview on the Mac. But it sucked because we didn't have control of where the text was positioned when we saved it.
It was also destructive saving so we couldn't edit the text once we made the card.
Ming Liu to the rescue
If you want to write your message in Chinese, use a typeface that is designed for Chinese characters.
I tried many fonts and kept getting annoying boxes in place of certain characters. Finally, I discovered the Ming Liu typeface, and none of the characters were replaced with boxes.
If you don't use Photoshop...
I guess you're screwed then! Just kidding. Here are my suggestions if you don't have Photoshop:
- Try GIMP instead. It's a free alternative to Photoshop (though I haven't tested if you can open the Photoshop file in GIMP, yet. So...good luck).
- Replicate your version of the file in Microsoft Powerpoint. You can either create a Master Slide or simply duplicate a slide and use it as a template. You can save a slide as a PNG file, which you can then share on the chat apps. This is my "poor man's" solution to Illustrator at work.
- You can beg me for help. Maybe you'll get lucky, and I'll help you if I'm not busy working on my clients' projects. Email me at email@example.com.
Here's the Photoshop Greeting Card Template
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