More Ways Than One to Send a Holiday Greeting
E-cards are convenient, but many prefer a personal touch with paper
Written by Darla Palmer-Ellingson in Health & Wellness Home
As Americans spend up to 11 hours a day connected to an electronic device, will sending paper holiday greeting cards become as antiquated as going to a movie rental store? Not according to the U.S. Postal Service, which expects to deliver more than 16 billion holiday cards between Thanksgiving and the New Year.
As long as there are sentimental people who choose to spend the time and money to send cards by traditional mail, the USPS will be in the holiday card business. But with the exploding use of electronic messages and e-cards, technology may overtake paper cards in the future. An estimated 500 million people are expected to send electronic holiday cards this year.
A few decades ago, sending paper letters and holiday cards kept families and friends in touch. People eagerly anticipated opening a letter and reading about the births, marriages, deaths and business happenings that were part of the fabric of family and communities.
Judith Donath at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab changed all that in late 1994, when she created the first electronic postcard. Sending such cards started slowly, with less than a dozen sent out in a day. But the trend soon caught on. During the 1995 and ’96 Christmas season, some days saw more than 19,000 cards sent. By late spring of 1996, 1.7 million eCards had been sent.
Email, texts and Facebook also keep us connected to family news in an instant. Most people are happy to receive a personalized greeting no matter how it’s delivered. With the speed of life these days, people can hardly be criticized for choosing a quicker, easier way to stay in touch. But older generations that may not be proficient with most forms of technology would probably prefer a hand-written paper card over opening an email, even if they have a computer. Thinking about the people in your address book may make it easier to decide whether to write and mail a card, or send an electronic message.
Add a personal touch, shop local
Purchasing, hand-writing a personal message, stamping, addressing and posting paper cards takes time, but it means more to the recipient because you have taken the time to write them individually. It tells them they are worth your effort.
Visit your local gift shops or office supply stores for ideas and supplies. You might find hand-made cards, decorative pens or special stationery to put a personal touch on a holiday message.
Handcrafted paper greeting cards are easy to find at boutiques and craft shows, as well. These mini works of art not only provide a unique space for your message, but many are suitable for framing.
Sending electronic cards can be a time saver. Once you choose a design and create your greeting, you can send the e-card to numerous people at once. E-cards may help tech savvy communicators keep in touch with their contacts more frequently.
Electronic messages are also more environmentally friendly. Even though many paper card manufacturers are using recycled paper, holiday cards are often tossed out at the end of the season.
Digital cards are typically less expensive too, including some free services. One of the most popular eCard creation companies, Shutterfly, offers custom cards for about 40 percent less than a paper card. Other companies charge an annual fee that allows the sender to mail an unlimited number of cards for the duration of the membership, bringing the cost way down if you have a long list.
Here are some other popular e-greeting card companies:
– 123Greetings is primarily for Facebook and is free.
– Blue Mountain Cards is one of the earliest companies to offer digital cards and has a huge selection of greetings and customizable options. The service is free to send by email or post to Facebook.
– CowrieCards.com has an African American theme that uses photographs and hand-drawn pictures. Though the number of card options is small, it offers a special collection for the holidays.
– E-Cards.com are more than eco-friendly—the company also donates to non-profits that preserve the earth.
– Jacquie Lawson is known as having elegant holiday cards. Though not cheap, the yearly membership allows you to send classy messages to those in your contact list.
– JibJab offers animated video cards with music. This service, which specializes in humor, is available through an annual membership which includes an unlimited number of cards.
– Sloppy Kiss Cards are for dog lovers, allowing personal photos of your pet.
Sending a mix of paper holiday cards—especially those made by local artists—and digital greetings is probably the best way to appease everyone on your list.