So you’ve put it off until now.
Just days before Christmas, and you haven’t sent out any of your Christmas cards. It’s shameful. You think technology can save you no matter what, don’t you?
Oh wait, it can!
True, nothing beats the syrupy sentimentality of a paper card in the mail, complete with wallet-sized family portrait and annual letter. But e-cards have come a long way — in that not only have they evolved into videos with your picture embedded, but they’ve been around long enough that your grandparents have figured out how to open them.
E-cards have gotten so popular, in fact, that more and more companies are starting to charge for the privilege of sending them. Is it good news that harvesting e-mail addresses isn’t enough to keep a business alive anymore? You’ll need to do some searching to find fancy e-cards that are free, but they’re out there.
• GotFreeCards.com: That’s the name of the company, anyway. Go here and you’re immediately redirected to got-free-ecards.com. Pretty much everything on their site is free, from printable templates to the standard dancing Santa cards. Their photo e-cards are all on a single page where you upload your preferred picture, select a holiday-themed “frame” to go around it, pick a MIDI song to play and fill in all the necessary e-mail addresses and a greeting message. They even promise not to spam you or your recipients.
• Smilebox.com: Definitely the most professional-looking site of these listed here, because it’s owned by Hallmark. It actually shows some post-2003 design sensibility, what with the clean lines, line drawings of birds and flowers and a cute Flash animation for each page. If you actually want to make your own card, though, you need to download their desktop software. Not exactly arduous, and you do get more options than a typical e-card, but still, that’s kind of a big hurdle just to send a little happy at someone, right? And of course you can pay them for more features, like saving cards to your digital photo frame. Oooh.
• FrameShow.com: Another site that wants you to download a desktop application, but you don’t have to. Their web-based card creator can import photos and videos directly from Flickr, Picasa, YouTube and a bunch of other online services to personalize your creation. And if you still don’t find any designs you like, just click the Hallmark ad on the side of the page. Oh Google Ads, you try so hard.
• Hallmark.com: You got your free cards, your 99-cent cards and your $9.99 subscription, which lets you send as many cards as you want. There’s approximately one free Christmas card, so don’t bother.
• HDgreetings.com: Most of the good cards here are “Subscriber Exclusives,” but there’s some oddness I just had to mention. First, a free card titled “What the Elf?!” that appears to be identical to a pay card with a different name. It’s awesome because you put your picture in it, so your head is on the body of an animated elf that then gets eaten by a zombie. For serious.
Almost as loony is the card that lets you bookend a clip from Bob Dylan’s “Must Be Santa” video with your family photo and message. He’s like 80 years old, Jewish and can’t sing, but his Christmas album was huge last year. ’60s cred goes a long way.