Every Excruciatingly Correct Tot Has Them: Calling Cards

updated 05/13/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/13/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Miss Manners would approve. Across the country toddlers to teens are heading for play dates and parties with small, brightly colored cards in hand. Like some grown-up counterparts, yuppies-in-training have discovered that personalized calling cards make a good impression—or at least give a kid a short leg up the etiquette ladder.

"These cards are in good taste," says Mera Lee Goldman, founder of The Rainbow, a nonprofit Beverly Hills gift shop for children. "They are not just gifts for the kid with everything. They teach children good manners, and good manners are coming back."

Most kids use the cards as gift enclosures or thank-you notes, and some have begun swapping and collecting them. Aspiring tyke-coons hand them out to advertise babysitting and odd-job services.

They may lack a job title, but kids can make up for that by choosing from designs that include balloons, teddy bears in pink tutus, sailboats, soccer balls, hearts and rainbows, in primary and pastel colors. Some cards can be printed while you wait, but the more intricate, die-cut ones, shaped like animals and angels, are special orders that take four to six weeks. To those who want them, the price—$8 and up for a box of 25—seems to be no hindrance. "Kids are so social nowadays," says Perry Shore, manager of Diversions on Manhattan's tony Madison Avenue, which sells between 1,200 to 1,500 cards a month. "It seems they go to a couple of parties every weekend." Carolyn Lary, whose Memphis-based company produces the die-cut cards, now exports them to Europe, Canada and South Africa; she has four printers working full-time to fill the demand. Frances Meyer of Savannah, who started her card line two years ago, was surprised when adults began requesting cards for their own use. She recently added eight more designs for grown-ups.

If the whimsical calling cards appeal to the child in every grown-up, they have the opposite effect on kids. "I think they're neat," says Beverly Hills youngster Jennifer Laken, 8, who hands them out to new friends and has had three sets in two years. "They make me feel important—like a business person."

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