design (or hack) your own holiday e-cards

Sally Schneider

Alert !!: ‘the improvised life is THRILLED to be part a very cool group post called NYC Bloggers Do the Holidays, the ultimate holiday guide by New York’s best bloggers, from unique gifts to the most celebratory libations, to Christmas with Andy Warhol. Be sure to check out it; it’s on the Home Page now, and here, or just scroll down to the bottom of this post.

We’re big fans of giving money to a charity in our friends’ names, in lieu of the usual gift that nobody needs. So every year, we send out a big pile of charity gift cards to friends. We’d address and stamp the envelopes, wondering if there was an alternative way to send our greeting/gift that would save paper, stamps, and energy but still deliver the message in a festive way.

We steered clear of email cards because we couldn’t find any that delivered the visual message we wanted AND because they lacked an envelope, which we think an essential part of the pleasure of receiving a card.

Until recently. We discovered Paperless Post, a website that allows you to design your own cards (to a degree) and then send them in a sort of digital envelope that the recipient gets to open online. Once you create an account, your first few cards are free; after that, the charge is a fraction of what snailmail costs. It’s the envelope that got us.

Although we found many of Paperless Post’s holiday card design offerings to be a bit staid, we discovered that we could customize some of them to deliver more extreme messages. We snooped through lots of not-quite-our-style cards until we hit page 9 of Photo Holiday Cards (under Cards: Holiday) and found plain, borderless photo cards (in square, horizontal and vertical sizes). You upload your jpeg, choose from various color and type options, and compose your note. In addition to publishing cornball snapshots of the family, you can use ANY jpeg from your archive. So we took a favorite quote by Mohammed Ali and made it into a jpeg in Photoshop. Voila: our alt-version of a New Year’s greeting:

… inside is our message wishing joy in the New Year. We’re could also use this card to let our friends know that we’ve “gifted” them with a donation to a charity…

Plain photo card templates offer endless possibilities for devising unique holiday cards (with or without the gift). You could draw or paint your own card, then scan it and save as a jpeg for uploading to the site.  Scan old polaroids and black & white vintage photos. We’re pondering the ethics of using another artist’s image (collage-like) for private use only (what do you think?) …These stars from a Maira Kalman drawing sure makes a swell card:

Maira Kalman via S. Schneider

Paperless Post also has notecards (our favorite has a lightbulb as a logo), invitations and birthday cards. If you don’t feel like making your own, there’s a big selection of photo cards by Magnum photographers, like Robert Capa’s “Snow Fight, China, 1927″:

…But the Photo Christmas Card template is our favorite, usable all year long…

Here are some more big ideas for the holidays from NYC bloggers:

A Child Grows – Where to See Santa in New York City and Brooklyn.
Give and Get NYC – Give and Get for the Holidays.
Manhattan User’s Guide – The Gift Guide: 21 Over $21.
Markets of New York – Festive Food at New York’s Holiday Markets.
Mommy Poppins – 11 Experience Gifts for NYC Kids.
NY Barfly – Holiday Cocktails, And We Ain’t Talkin’ Egg Nog.
offManhattan – The Anti-Holiday Travel Guide: 5 Quick Getaways from NYC.
the skint – 11 free and cheap non-holiday things to do this holiday season.
This is FYF – A Drug-Friendly Guide to Your New York Holidays.
Patell and Waterman’s History of New York – Christmas with Andy Warhol.
Walking Off the Big Apple – A Mortal’s Guide to the Angels of New York City.
We Heart Astoria – The Best Places To Shop Local – WHA Holiday Gift Guide.

Related posts: double-duty gifts with heart (and a card)
alt-gift for mother’s (and other) days

*NBC New York

4 Responses to design (or hack) your own holiday e-cards

  1. Elizabeth 12.01.2010 at 3:08am #

    Wow. I’ve received invites from paperless posts, but I didn’t know about all of these options. I’m a little bummed, given that I’ve already ordered, paid for and received this year’s snail mail card!

  2. Beth 11.09.2011 at 2:06pm #

    Thank you! This helped a lot!

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