Student Birthday Cards with a Surprise Twist!

Ever since I opened my full-time studio, I’ve been sending a birthday postcard to students every year – you know, like when you get birthday postcards from your dentist, eye doctor, or auto-dealership? Not all businesses do this, of course, but it’s a nice gesture and a great way to keep in touch with customers.

Prior to doing postcards, I would give them their favorite candy bar, but I got tired of having to go out and buy individual candy bars and remember to do so throughout the year.

My reason for sending postcards has actually been more intentional than just doing something nice for students (not that that isn’t a good reason in and of itself, of course! 🙂 )

To me, it’s a way of creating great rapport with your families, and I wrote a little more details on this in this post: Marketing with Postcards (it’s not what you think!).

Each year I find a new postcard to send something unique, fun, and visually inspiring. (Get some ideas here: Fun Postcards for Student Birthdays and Unique Student Birthday Cards on Etsy.)

Today I want to share how my (almost) burnout on this annual studio project propelled me to take a fresh approach with a little twist this year.

This will also include details on organizing this project so you don’t have to attend to it throughout the year continually.


Burnout Happens Even for the Best Ideas

For years I’ve had the same routine.

  1. Purchase a set of postcards.
  2. Print out address labels and pre-label and stamp all the cards.
  3. Every Monday morning, look at the calendar and see if anyone has a birthday the following week, then write a little note on the postcard and drop it in the mail.

After nine years of this routine, while it was still fairly streamlined, I’ve gotten burnt out on hand-writing notes – especially when Spring comes around, and I have multiple students in a week with birthdays.

I really didn’t want to stop my birthday mailing though, because I think it’s important (I mean, what kid doesn’t feel special getting something in the
US Mail these days?! LOL)


small Tweaks to Keep it Fresh

Amidst pondering my dilemma, I realized that many birthday cards from businesses are usually pre-printed. Aha! While not the most personal approach, it was the perfect answer to give me a little break and a change of pace.

Tweak #1: Pre-print the cards

I also wanted to change it up and do a little something more for students.
A gift card to DQ was an easy idea, but $5 is usually the minimum amount most places will do on a gift card, making it a pricy option. Plus, the statistics show many people never end up using them, and I hated the thought of wasting that money!

Over the last two years, I’ve been implementing a big push for students always to be able to play Happy Birthday. So, I began wondering how I could tie this into the birthday gift.


Tweak #2: Don’t just mail everyone a gift, have them “earn it” by playing Happy Birthday for you!

That way, only those who make the extra effort will earn the surprise birthday gift, and I might save a little money.

Working with a local bakeshop proved to answer my final dilemma. They sell a lot of individual cupcakes, cookies, cake pops, and donuts for under $2. She was happy to sell me individual gift certificates for $2 so students could go in and get a free treat.

Tweak #3: Work with someone local who will sell you a gift certificate for less than $5!


My 2020-2021 Birthday Cards

Now for some photos of my birthday cards from this year!

One of my studio families bought me a huge pack of these cute note cards this summer – they were perfect!

Using Avery Shipping Labels (3.5″ x 5″), I simply printed them out…

…and then stuck them to the “note” side of the card.

I actually did two different messages.

For students with birthdays during the school year I used:

Happy birthday from your piano teacher!

Want to earn a little surprise birthday gift? Play “Happy Birthday” for me on the piano without music (confidently and well-practiced, of course) either at your next lesson or send me a video!

PS. This offer expires 2 piano lessons after your birthday.
P.S.S. It’s up to you to remember, I won’t remind you! 🙂

I can’t wait to hear it!

Because my summer lessons are optional, I modified the wording for the small handful of students with summer birthdays just in case they weren’t taking lessons at the time.

Happy birthday from your piano teacher!

Here’s a little surprise gift! (I’ll just mail them the gift certificate.)

Will you do something for me though? Send me a quick video of you playing “Happy Birthday” at the piano (confidently and well-practiced, of course). Maybe even have a little fun with it and be creative.

I can’t wait to hear what you come up with!


Get them All ready to go!

Here are some tips for getting them all ready for the entire year in one sitting.

Pre-label all envelopes with stamps, return address and address labels.

(Keep an address label template document with student addresses at all times. When a student registers for lessons, add their address to the document template so they’re already there in August every year, ready to be printed.)

Print the month and day of the student’s birthday next to their name on the address label, so you know exactly when to mail it out without having to look it up.

After they’re all labeled, stack them for the year, and you’re all set!

This project took me approximately two hours (mostly because my stupid printer was acting up). It is a relief to know that all I have to do is grab the card and drop it in the mail – one less thing on my mind for the year!


Do you have something you do in your studio every year for birthdays?
I would love to hear your ideas – please share in the comments!



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