One of the things that makes this season so joyful (and reminds me to reflect on what is really important) is when I get home from work and find that new holiday cards have arrived from family and friends. I really appreciate anyone who takes the time to put pen to paper and mail a card or a note to another. No matter what the message contained within, it puts me in the holiday spirit. The bonus is getting a card with family pictures of those I do not see that often.
But, let us be realistic. We all lead very busy lives these days, and it is seldom we have enough time to write an email, let alone write out a holiday card with a pen. Let's use technology to help us with our holiday cards. I'll share with you services that can send a printed or electronic holiday card on your behalf, and also ones that let you easily design your own cards that you can mail on your own. I will review a few here, and a simple search may yield many other apps and online services more suitable to your liking. My goal is to make you aware of some services which can make this task a breeze and, for you last minute people out there, a quick turnaround.
Felt for iPhone/iPad
Let me start off with my favorite, Felt. It is a complete service and you can “write” with your finger for a personal touch. Download the free app and you are minutes away from sending your first card. Simply select one of many card styles, pick a photo, type in your message and you are pretty much done. Load an address from your contacts and Felt does the rest. Within 24 hours (in most cases), your friend gets an enveloped holiday greeting in the mail. The best part is you can sign or write the card as if you actually put pen to paper. A single custom card will cost you $3 (with printing, postage and someone else’s tongue sealing the envelope - all included). Multiple panel cards are available and for those of you who need to send a quick gift, you can include a gift card to a popular store, cash, or even a rosemary plant. Felt also offers a subscription model for those of you who like to send cards all year long. This is one option best suited for small quantities, so let me share some others for you popular people with many mailboxes to fill.
TouchNote for iPhone/iPad and Android
TouchNote gets the job done for users of both iPhone and Android phones. With many pre-made templates for postcards and greeting cards, this is another full service app. Design your card, buy some credits, upload your addresses, and your cards are on the way. This does not have the handwritten stylings of Felt, but it is easy to use. Prices start at about two dollars per card, but just think, you can be all done with your holiday cards during your coffee break.
JustWink for iPhone/iPad, Android, and Web
For those of you who like brand names, JustWink is from American Greetings. You can send cards via email, SMS, and of course, printed cards via snail mail. I have not used this app myself, however reading the reviews and checking out their service online, it fits the bill. It has designs and templates for every occasion, like the others, yet the styling is sometimes not as slick as the others. Available for free download for iPhone, Android, iPad, Kindle, and via the web.
If you are the type of person who enjoys handwriting messages, addressing envelopes, sticking stamps, and risking paper cuts, here are some more other solutions that will print customized cards that you can then mail yourself:
Costco Photo Center
This big box giant gives many photo card options for around $14.99 for 50 cards. Turnaround can be the same day (if you pick them up from your local warehouse). They offer many additional add-ons like calendars and other stuff you can create from your own photos. (Costco membership required).
If you are going through the effort of addressing and stuffing on your own, why not add a little flourish to your holiday greetings? Minted has very stylish designs that will complement your gorgeous family photos. If you have a lot of cards to send and you want to be the envy of the PTA meeting, Minted can provide 100 high-quality printed cards for $167 dollars ($1.67 each). Not bad. Lower quantities increase the cost per card. My sister uses this service for all occasions and the quality stands out from many of the other services.
Shutterfly and Tinyprints
Shutterfly and Tinyprints are sister companies that offer the same quality as Minted. While similar in styling and in pricing, you can typically find discount codes online. In addition, if you are looking for some personalized photo pillows or ornaments, they have quite a selection.
The holiday season is in full swing, so get working on those cards! Let us know about your experiences or recommendations in the comments section below.