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Holiday Greetings in the Digital Age

I’m a bit of a sucker for snail mail. 

Growing up, the holiday season was one of my favorite times of year. I loved opening up all the holiday cards as they arrived from friends and family around the country, and watching my mom write out cards to our relatives and acquaintances.  I couldn’t wait until I was a “grown-up” and could send out my own cards.

I started my own card-sending ritual as soon as I graduated from college, and have dutifully continued the tradition in the years since, but I find myself receiving fewer and fewer actual cards each year, as people send holiday newsletters via email, eCards on Facebook, and group text messages proffering season’s greetings.

Despite my love of handwritten cards, I have accepted the reality that as a society, we are becoming more digital, and as a result, traditional holiday cards just aren’t relevant for a lot of people.  Just because paper cards are less popular now, though, doesn’t mean you can’t still send fun holiday greetings to your friends and family.  The prevalence of smartphones and social media has made it easier than ever to let people know you’re thinking of them during the holiday season.

Holiday Cards: There’s an App for That

If you, like me, still appreciate the value of a tangible holiday card, but don’t want to go through the hassle of picking out cards at the store, writing out greetings and addresses, finding stamps, and going to the post office, well, there’s an app for that.  Several apps, actually.  Ink Cards, SnapShot Holiday Postcards, and Apple’s Cards app are all free apps that allow you to design holiday cards right on your phone or tablet.  You can choose from a variety of templates and add your own messages and pictures. 

Once you’ve designed your card, the app does the rest of the work; printing, postage, and delivery are all taken care of for you!  Prices vary depending on the app, but all cards sent to U.S. addresses are less than $3 each.

Meanwhile, the Red Stamp app, gives you the best of both worlds.  After downloading the free app, you still get to design your own holiday cards from a variety of different designs, and you can have them printed and sent out for between $0.49 and $1.99 a card, including postage.  Or, you can send your cards via email, text message, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for free!

If all your friends and family are tech savvy, you want to be more eco-friendly, or you don’t want to pay for postage, there are a number of apps that allow you to design and send virtual cards.  The Build-A-Card app costs $0.99 and allows you to take photos from your camera, Facebook account, or photo album, add a background, decorations, and text, and send your creation to friends or family via email, Facebook, or Twitter. 

The free Christmas Card Maker app is a very easy, kid-friendly app that you can use to create unique holiday cards and share them using email or social media.  This free Holiday Card app lets you use templates or create your own card from a blank slate, and add a voice recording to the card.  You can then send your card via email to anyone, or to other app users through the app itself.

Say It Through a Video

Have friends who appreciate more quirky or silly holiday greetings?  Well, you can record a video message for them (with or without snow) using the Christmas VideoCard app ($0.99), and send it to them through Facebook.  You can also use the Sleighwrite app ($0.99) to create a personalized message for friends and family. When you send your message out through email, text message, or Facebook, the recipient will see the message written out by Santa and his reindeer! 

Finally, everyone loves a good holiday sweater. Use the free Sweaterizer app to make ordinary pictures extra festive for the holidays!  This app allows you to add fun holiday sweaters and hats to the pictures you already have; you can then share or email the new picture to friends, or save it to use in one of the holiday card apps I’ve already mentioned.  As an added bonus, this app also features tips for hosting a holiday sweater party!

Not everyone has the time or energy to send out traditional holiday cards, but these apps make it easy to send holiday greetings to everyone on your “nice” list this year.

How do you keep in touch with family and friends during the holidays?  Is there a holiday card app you love?  Let Alison know in the comments,  email her at ajglass@syr.edu, or find her on Twitter @alisonjane0306.

Alison Glass

Alison is a grad student in library and information science at the iSchool. Because she is perpetually indecisive and persistently curious, this is her third round of graduate school. Alison was a teacher in a previous life, and is interested in all things education, including information literacy, social media in the classroom, censorship, and the future of school libraries. She is addicted to Pinterest and chocolate. Find her on Twitter @alisonjane0306.

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