Birthday card inserts (that aren’t money)

When you live far away from friends and loved ones you probably use cards to celebrate their birthday since you can't be there in person. Often, people will place money inside birthday cards to act as a gift. While everyone appreciates a little extra cash, you can make your gift much more meaningful. You have to think small, since it needs to fit in your envelope, but here are a few ideas of items you can send for someone's birthday:

Fun sketch
Send your friend a hand-drawn picture that he or she can hang up at home. This handmade gift is thoughtful and gives you a chance to show your creativity. Sketch an image of you both together doing something you love, or you could even create a comic strip. Use your imagination to draw an image that your friend will cherish for years to come.

Different stamps
While Forever Stamps are really useful, the same image on the postage can start to get a little boring. Spice up your loved one's options by sending stamps that depict his or her favorite actor or movie characters. Your friend will enjoy the variety of postage to choose from, and it will also encourage the person to write more letters.

Short story
If you like to write, show off your storytelling skills by creating a short story. Try to keep it around 1,000 words so that it will fit nicely inside the envelope. The birthday recipient will find the tale entertaining and will be able to reread it again and again in the future.

Funny bookmarks
For friends who love to read, why not stick some funny bookmarks inside their cards? These can either be ones you've found at local libraries, stationery stores or bookmarks you've made yourself. Try crafting a few different kinds. For example, you could make a traditional paper page holder as well as use a paper clip and button for some variety.

Lottery scratch tickets
This isn't exactly money – after all, you don't know if the person actually won anything. Scratch tickets are simply a fun and easy insert to place in a birthday card. Your recipient will enjoy removing the opaque film to reveal the numbers. It's an added bonus if the ticket is a winner.

Origami animals
Origami is a vastly underrated skill. Make a few origami animals to include in a birthday card – be sure to choose ones that can be laid flat to fit in an envelope. These little art pieces are sure to be a unique gift. Choose figures that remind you of your friend and explain why you picked the animals you did in your card.

Come up with your own ideas
The ideas above are just to get you started. Come up with your own gift inserts that are even more personal. You know the recipient of the card the best, so make sure the item you send is meaningful and relates to that person in some way. Doing this will show how much you care for your friend as well as demonstrate how you pay attention when you're together.