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The art of holiday cards

The art of holiday cards

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Have you sent your holiday cards out yet?

About a year ago, I remember sitting in a Starbucks with a friend, debating whether handwritten cards or e-cards were better. There are pros and cons to each, of course.

Hand-written cards are arguably more personal and thoughtful. They show the recipient that you planned ahead, bought cards, wrote (or at least signed) a message, and (hopefully) sent them in time to be received before the holidays. You also spent money on the cards and the stamps.

And, because so much correspondence is done electronically now, a handwritten card can stand out. It is also likely to sit around the recipient’s office or home, visible for at least whatever is left of the holiday season.

Electronic cards, on the other hand, are mostly free and can be sent instantaneously. Of course, they save trees. They still show the recipient that you are thinking of them and that you spent the time to select a card, fill in a message and send them in time to be received before the holidays (although far less lead time is required).

Rather than being locked into a single design on a bulk set of holiday cards, you could even chose a different e-card for each recipient if you so desired. The options are nearly limitless, and include some pretty hilarious animation, more traditional options and the irreverent. While all of this is great, I think one of the truly key benefits of an electronic card is the ease with which the recipient can respond.

Ultimately, all holiday cards will be thrown away or deleted and often more quickly than the sender would like to admit. While a handwritten holiday card’s shelf life (or desk life) is likely longer than that of an e-card, and it initially appears more personal and thoughtful, it is much easier for a recipient to respond to an e-card. At the same time, though, e-cards can end up in the spam filter or be deleted without even being opened.

Of course, there is also the personal element — which comes more naturally to you? And more importantly, which format will the people to whom you are sending the cards appreciate more?

At the end of the day, I think that whether handwritten or electronic cards are “better” really just depends on what your recipients appreciate. It should be about what will be best received by them, not just what is most convenient for you. Some e-card services recognize this by letting you design a card that can be sent both electronically and by regular mail.

So which did you send this year? Or, which are you going to send? If you’re still trying to figure out where to find a good card (e-card or not, or a combination of both), try one of these.

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