Custom Letterpress, Cute Cards, Stylish Invitations: These Are the Best Online Stationery Stores
For when you need to say “Thinking of you!”
Updated Nov 3, 2022 1:03 PM
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The 1961 song “Please Mr. Postman” perfectly captures the feeling of waiting anxiously for the mail to arrive (hopefully with a letter from a certain someone). Today it might be called “Please Mr. Wi-Fi” and chronicle the struggles of browser refreshing. But 60 years after the song debuted, getting an actual letter or card remains just as exciting. “I think people are craving offscreen activities in a very digital world,” says Jennifer Ro, the founder of Poem Press. “Writing a card seems so special compared to shooting over a text or an email. It also feels so good to receive some snail mail when your mailbox is usually just filled with bills and junk mail.”
With that in mind, we’ve pulled together the best online stationery sources for custom stationery, cute cards, and stylish invitations. Whether you’re looking to learn about some new stationery designers or want to load up on chic or playful office supplies while you’re grabbing paper goods, you’re in luck. There are great options for customization; sources for birthday greetings that’ll rival a wrapped gift; and intel on paper so you can get a sense of design and feel, even virtually. Keep scrolling to find out where to pick up truly signature stationery, then update your address book and send out some old-school greetings.
- Best discoveries: Greer Chicago
- Best greeting card selection: Greenwich Letterpress
- Best collaborations: Papier
- Best letterpress: Sesame Letterpress & Design
- Best box sets: Poem Press
- Best custom: Maurèle
- Best one-stop shop: Minted
- Best contemporary designs: Poketo
- Best traditional designs: Smythson
- Best photo cards: Artifact Uprising
- Best illustrations: Etsy
Best Discoveries: Greer Chicago
Range of products: Greeting cards, stationery sets, notebooks, office supplies | Brands: Postalco, Crown Mill, Delfonics, My Darlin’ | Custom options: No
What we like:
- A great place to discover new brands
- Black-owned business
- Shipping is only free for orders over $75
Why we chose it: Greer Chicago has an amazing selection of brands carefully curated by founder Chandra Greer.
Based in Chicago, Chandra Greer’s eponymous online stationery shop brings together gems from all over the world. There are greeting cards from the United Kingdom; an extensive collection of high-quality and meticulously crafted Japanese notebooks; and small stationery brands from throughout the United States. You’ll find scissors that you won’t want to tuck away in a drawer, Belgian paper goods dating back to 1492, and abundant card options to send to your BFF.
Among other designs, Greer carries letterpress and screen-printed cards. “The letterpress is labor-intensive, time-intensive, and skill based,” says Greer. “It involves transferring artwork to plates, which are then inked and applied to each card with a letterpress printer.” Screen printing, she says, “is an interesting technique because the designer is able to print with more vivid inks or print light colors on dark papers. Like letterpress, it’s also a tactile technique—if you run your fingers across a screen-printed card, you can actually feel the ink on the paper.” Sarah Schwartz—the editor in chief of Stationery Trends, host of the podcast The Paper Fold, and voice behind The Paper Nerd—is a fan of Greer’s selections. “She really immerses herself in the brands out there and has a hyper-curated selection in her shop,” says Schwartz.
Best Greeting Card Selection: Greenwich Letterpress
What we like:
- A wide variety of styles and price points means there’s something for everyone
- The sisters who founded the shop are third-generation printers
- Due to COVID-19 there are some delays on shipping online orders
- All sales are final
Why we chose it: It’s the place to turn for hyper-specific celebratory needs.
Not going home for Thanksgiving? A cute card won’t replace you at the dinner table, but it will be a sweet surprise in the mailbox. Misread an email and need to smooth things over with a coworker? There’s a card for that, too. Based in New York City, Greenwich Letterpress was founded by two sisters in 2005. The shop carries more than 700 greeting cards for any and all occasions, plus a large selection of postcards and neon notebooks from a Portuguese brand that’s been in business since 1918. Greenwich also creates custom stationery and wedding invites using a letterpress.
Best Collaborations: Papier
Range of products: Stationery, invites, notebooks, planners | Brands: Papier in-house designs, plus dozens of collaborations | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- Great custom options for weddings and everyday use
- Paper is sourced from Forest Steward Council–certified forests, which use higher environmental standards
- Fresh designs from creatives who don’t otherwise make paper goods
Why we chose it: Papier works with designers and artists to make unique and colorful collections.
While Papier has an in-house brand, it’s become known for its customizable collaborations with design studios, fashion designers, and illustrators. That includes paper goods featuring the signature squiggly lines of British design darling Matilda Goad, rainbow waves by House of Holland, and upbeat illustrations from Dutch illustrator Bodil Jane. Some other standouts are Danielle Kroll’s moving announcement and Gurls Talk note card set. “The designs are the perfect balance of cool and of-the-moment, but in a mature way—I’d feel good sending them to a friend or a client,” says one Domino editor. “Plus card-stock thickness and print quality often makes all the difference, and Papier’s cards tick all the boxes.”
Planning a wedding? Papier’s pricing calculator helps determine the real cost of invites based on whether you’ll include information or RSVP cards, and its online wedding tool facilitates the use of digital save-the-dates and online RSVP options for convenience or cash saving.
Best Letterpress: Sesame Letterpress & Design
Range of products: Custom note cards, business cards, wedding invitations, non-custom greeting cards, coasters, bookmarks, calendars | Brands: Just Sesame Press | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- It sends proofs within 48 hours on customizable note card designs
- A well-curated selection of fonts
- Great holiday and greeting cards for those who aren’t going the custom route
- Smallest custom set is 50 cards
- The custom process and quality materials result in a high price tag
Why we chose it: A luxe source for hand-printed custom business cards, social stationery, and wedding invites.
The letterpress has been around since the Middle Ages, but Schwartz has noticed a resurgence in popularity. “In our increasingly digital world, people are drawn to traditional and more tactile processes,” she says. “A special printing process really elevates stationery.”
Brooklyn-based Sesame Letterpress & Design uses Victorian-era cast-iron presses, hand-feeding cards in one at a time. A set of 50 note cards starts at $175 (which comes out to $3.50 for a card and corresponding envelope), with options like scripted monograms, illustrated initials, and letterpressed designs such as a curling ocean wave. Sesame offers a variety of floral and typographical wedding invites and a shop for ready-made holiday cards and paper goods. Bonus: It uses acid-free and biodegradable paper and a printing process that requires very little ink, and it sources paper from another Brooklyn company.
Best Box Set: Poem Press
Range of products: Box sets, individual greeting cards, patches and pins (some of which are currently sold out) | Brands: Just Poem Press | Custom options: No
What we like:
- Unique color options
- Great price points
- Made in New York
- Some items sell out
- Return policy not listed on website
Why we chose it: An up-and-coming Brooklyn designer with an eye for color and pattern makes affordable box sets and cool cards.
Jennifer Ro, the Brooklyn-based artist and designer who founded Poem Press, says her Ettore box set was inspired by “the lines and punchiness” of Ettore Sottsass’s iconic Ultrafragola mirror. The set comes in a color-coordinated box and would make a great holiday gift for the design aficionado in your life. Other sets invert the typical white-envelope, colorful-card pairing with white cotton cards and bright envelopes featuring Risograph-printed patterns like a lime green gingham, eye-popping red cherries, stars, and what Ro calls “green spill.”
“The Risograph is basically a crafty copy machine, creating a vibrant and textured print that can’t be replicated,” says Ro, and she likes what otherwise might be considered drawbacks about the technique. “Riso printing is not an accurate print process and can be quite unpredictable in its registration and ink application,” she says. “It’s prone to smudging and uneven coverage, but I actually love how these quirks add to the crafty, homemade quality of the print.” She also makes letterpress-printed cards with Riso-printed envelopes that are either cheeky, thoughtful, or sweet.
Best Custom: Maurèle
Range of products: Custom stationery, leather goods, notebooks | Brands: Just Maurèle | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- Fonts from independent foundries and renowned type designers
- Eco-friendly inks; paper sourced from sustainable North American mills
- Due to COVID-19, custom orders may be delayed
- All custom orders are final sale, barring an issue with the printing
Why we chose it: These sumptuous designs are so good you might have a hard time parting with them at the mailbox.
You may not be writing a masterpiece, but that doesn’t mean you can’t scribble in style. Maurèle offers a customizable collection inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s letterhead, another that takes its cues from Salvador Dalí’s personal correspondence, and a spare set inspired by Steinbeck. The brand uses sustainably sourced paper made with recycled pulp to keep environmental impact low, and its attention to detail is also clear in the fonts, which are designed by independent foundries and skilled type designers. One Domino editor loves the feel and look of the Taliesin Letter Papers in textured white and uses them on a regular basis for thank-you notes, birthday wishes, and general correspondence. A set of eight note cards (with envelopes) starts at $28.
Best One-Stop Shop: Minted
Range of products: Birthday and wedding invites, personal stationery, holiday cards, birth announcements, assorted gifts | Brands: Select from independent artists all over the world | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- Good price points
- Easy to customize directly online
- With so many options, it can be hard to sort through
Why we chose it: Minted offers a bevy of affordable choices for custom photo cards, invites, and stationery.
Founded by Mariam Naficy in 2007, Minted has become a popular source for custom stationery and cards for every occasion, all designed by independent artists. It’s particularly useful for family holiday cards, with offerings by the likes of designer Sara Hicks Malone, whose warm, minimalist cards—like this one and this one—don’t even need a photo. But Minted’s photo-based holiday card options are extensive, too, if you prefer to send a card featuring smiling kids or adorable pets. Designs are often available flat or folded, in four silhouette shapes and a variety of paper choices. Minted does personal stationery and wedding invites as well.
Best Contemporary Designs: Poketo
Range of products: Stationery, office supplies, home goods, apparel | Brands: Just Poketo for stationery | Custom options: Yes, though it does have minimum order requirements; contact Poketo for details
What we like:
- Nice price points on card sets
- Selection of office supplies makes organizing fun
- It’s a bit hard to find cards on the website
Why we chose it: Here are color-forward, eye-catching designs for those who like less traditional stationery, and office supplies for those who want to turn traditional stationery on its head.
Founded in 2003 by husband-and-wife duo Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung, Poketo elevates everyday activities with cheeky designs and bright colors. One very 21st-century holiday card features wrapped presents beneath a houseplant; another depicts a holiday scene in Joshua Tree; and a fruit-themed postcard set is sure to brighten dreary winter days. Poketo’s playful attitude is also evident in its “surprise” sets, featuring randomly assorted holiday cards or greeting cards. Or get organized in style with the brand’s colorful accordion file, folders, and geometric sticky notes. Poketo can’t make your to-do list any shorter, but it can make it a little more fun to look at.
Best Traditional Designs: Smythson
Range of products: Invitations, business cards, personal stationery, greeting cards, leather goods | Brands: Just Smythson | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- High-end touches like blind embossing, tissue-lined envelopes, and gilded details
- Made in England using traditional printing practices
- A brand steeped in history
- No budget options
- Online returns are no longer complimentary
Why we chose it: Here’s a high-end British design firm that does the classics well.
Symthson began selling “stationery and fancy articles of a high-class character” in 1831, and customers have included European royalty and movie stars like Grace Kelly and Katharine Hepburn. Steeped in tradition, the brand does old-fashioned custom stationery with panache…and a high price tag. Individual greeting cards are $19. A set of 50 wedding invites starts at $626. Handcrafted, personalized correspondence cards start at $304 for 50, with tissue-lined envelopes, borders, and motifs available at an extra cost. Designs can be personalized online, or you can work with a Smythson stationery consultant at one of its stores.
Best Photo Cards: Artifact Uprising
Range of products: Custom holiday cards, thank-yous, invites, photo books, calendars, other personalizable gifts | Brands: Just Artifact Uprising | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- Photo cards ship 2 business days after the order is finalized
- Many of the cards are printed on 100 percent recycled paper
- Letterpress and foil cards take longer to ship
Why we chose it: Artifact Uprising offers a great way to get photos off your phone—and into the hands of loved ones.
Founded in 2012, Artifact Uprising has reimagined photo-based gifts, using elevated materials and simple, clean designs. Its photo-card options are tasteful and sweet, turnaround is quick, and pricing is reasonable. Cards are available flat or folded, with optional details like gold foiling and varying levels of customization. Holiday cards feature one photo, a few, or up to 12 for the indecisive among us. Artifact Uprising also offers a wide array of birth announcement options, and for those who want a photo-based save-the-date or thank-you card, there’s sure to be something in your style. The company will address envelopes for an additional fee.
Best Illustrations: Etsy
Range of products: Custom holiday cards | Brands: Just Artifact Uprising | Custom options: Yes
What we like:
- Photo cards ship 2 business days after the order is finalized
- No returns or exchanges
Why we chose it: Classic architectural inspiration translates beautifully to charming watercolor images.
From designer Merrill Lyons’s Park Slope renovation to Brandon Blackwood’s five-story Brooklyn brownstone, these classic structures emit undeniably quintessential New York City energy, which is the artistic inspiration behind this charming set of holiday cards. Handmade by artist and Etsy shop owner Matt Carlin, the cards come 10 to a pack, each one bearing a watercolor-painted image of a brownstone with a “Happy Holidays” caption. Custom cards are also available, and according to reviewers, the artwork is equally satisfying. “Ordered a custom photo of one of our favorite local spots after learning it was closing. My boyfriend literally cried when he saw it,” one purchaser commented. Another writes, “Such cute cards! Beautiful design and nice quality paper, too! So glad I bought these!” While returns and exchanges aren’t allowed, all orders are shipped free.
Other Brands We Love
How We Chose These Products
We started with our own stationery collections, highlighting sources we return to repeatedly, a mix of small brands and big retailers and both specialty purveyors and sites that are ideal for one-stop shopping. Our editors researched the category with an eye on quality materials, a variety of price points, unique designs, and great customization options.
Our Shopping Checklist
Some stationers specialize in one printing process, while other retailers carry a variety of designs from a number of makers; customization-focused shops may stick to one style or carry a wide array of options. A brand like Maurèle has a tightly curated selection of offerings, whereas Papier offers dozens and dozens of customizable designs. Smythson has a solid selection, but they’re all rather traditional. For those just starting to explore stationery, relying on the curation of a retailer like Greer Chicago or Greenwich Letterpress is a good way to learn about a variety of styles and brands.
“These days, customization doesn’t just mean note cards with your name; it can also have an image or an icon you’re drawn to,” says Schwartz, the stationery expert. Sesame Letterpress & Design has a selection of animals and little icons plus custom silhouettes for an even more unique personalization option. Printing your name on stationery doesn’t mean it has to be stuffy either: There are now a wide variety of fonts, styles, and colors to choose from.
“It can be hard to tell the size of a card when you’re just looking at it on a screen,” says Schwartz. Get out a ruler to visualize better, or measure some cards you have at home for comparison. The brand should send you a digital or print proof to review before printing the order; proof for spelling errors; double-check all the information is correct; and make sure you’re happy with the design, as custom work is often nonreturnable.
“If a card is heavy stock, that means you’ll feel the weight of it in your hand; if it’s cotton, it will provide a tactile experience that’s hard to describe but is instantly recognizable,” says Greer, whose shop carries a lot of cards made from heavy, 100 percent cotton stock. “These cards will also be archival, meaning they are stronger and more durable than those made from wood-based papers and can last for years without deteriorating.”
As Schwartz explains, “Heavier paper communicates a luxury element, and anything dimensional, like embossing or engraving, is going to elevate the stationery further.” These days a number of retailers make cards using recycled materials or paper sourced from sustainable forests, which they often detail on their websites.
Q: How can I tell if the stationery is good quality when I’m buying online?
One way to assess quality is whether the shop has a physical location or the brand is carried in brick-and-mortar stores. These retailers act as gatekeepers for good design: If a paper is too thin or the design doesn’t look as good in real life, it will be hard to sell in person. “If an online stationery shop is taking great photos, I think shoppers will be able to determine the quality of the design from that alone,” says Greer. “If you find a website with an obvious commitment to quality, good design, and curated offerings, you can probably trust that what you order from them will reach that standard.”
Q: When should I send out my holiday cards?
Christmas cards should be sent the first week of December, and Hanukkah cards earlier, since the first night of Hanukkah is on December 18. Cards that simply express a “Happy holidays” sentiment, meanwhile, can be sent anytime through the season. The holidays put a big strain on the mail system, so while a card might take three to seven days to arrive normally, it might take twice as long in December.
A holiday-themed box set is a great option if you’re running a bit behind and don’t have time to wait for a custom order. And cards wishing the recipient a Happy New Year can go out through the first week of January—which offers more leeway if a holiday mailing just wasn’t in the cards this year.
The Last Word
There’s nothing quite like a handwritten card, the richness of a letterpress design, and the delight in finding an envelope addressed to you. Whether you’re writing a letter to a close friend living far away, designing holiday cards, or sending a belated birthday greeting, dropping something pretty in the mail is a small gesture that can make someone’s day.