Pre-addressed, stamped postcards sent by college students from around the country find their way back to Nancy Cripe’s kitchen in Minnesota throughout the school year. Even an old and tattered postcard recently arrived from a UCLA graduate student with the three-word message, “Is this expired?”
“Cookie cards never expire,” replied the high-school biology and human anatomy and physiology teacher at Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis.
Nancy’s “cookie cards” have become her unique high-school graduation gift-giving tradition.
At the end of each academic year, she receives numerous invitations to her science students’ graduation open-house parties. A few years ago, she decided to change up how she honored their achievement, by giving something personal that is a little taste from home when they feel far away — in the form of home-baked chocolate chip cookies.Like a monetary gift card with dollar amounts for purchases at stores and restaurants, her cookie postcard can be redeemed for one dozen home-baked cookies. “Not surprisingly, that’s usually during their final exam week,” she says.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving. “Hearing back from students when they send me the postcard is a personal way to stay in touch, and baking for them gives me a chance to think about them individually, and what they are experiencing and working toward.”
This personalized gift idea can work for a graduating grandchild, friend, niece or nephew, too. You even might wish to give several cookie-card postcards to be redeemed quarterly or monthly.
Here’s how she does it:
She designs the postcards with images and words of blessing and inspiration printed on one side. On the left half of the reverse side, she prints this message in the high school’s colors:
“Congratulations on your Graduation! When you’re away at college and need some extra inspiration to help you study (especially science!), just send me this postcard and homemade cookies will soon be on their way to you!”
Below the message are four lines where the student writes his or her college address, along with a space for jotting a note to her. On the right half, she prints her home address and adds a postage stamp.
The postcard is tucked inside a graduation card.
When she receives the postcard, she bakes the cookies (she has a large quantity of cookie dough shaped into balls and frozen to bake a dozen on a moment’s notice) and packs them carefully in a plastic bag wrapped with bubble wrap to fit the smallest U.S. mail flat rate box. She includes a handwritten greeting, and sends it off.