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Holiday Guide Feature

List Servers

Browsing the Best Online Holiday Cards

Emily Flake

Holiday Guide 1999

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By Natalie Davis | Posted 11/17/1999

We're making a living, staying informed, and taking care of business at home. Who has time to write a thank-you note? Or send a printed party invitation? Or inscribe, address, and mail out that seasonal staple, the holiday card? Decades of labor-saving conveniences haven't helped us carve out more time to tend to the niceties that help human relationships survive and thrive. For most of us, there's not enough time in the day to keep up the age-old tradition of sending holiday cards to long lists of recipients. But relax, Miss Manners: This doesn't mean that your wishes to friends and loved ones for a Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, solstice, or Hanukkah have to go the way of the dinosaurs.

When you care enough to send the very best but don't have time to buy, sign, and mail holiday greeting cards, consider the online alternative. The Internet is crowded with firms offering a huge range of "cards" that can be sent via e-mail. You can go high-tech or low, free or paid, general or personalized. And while nothing fully replaces the mushy missives from Hallmark or American Greetings that arrives via snail-mail and can be treasured forever, sending electronic greetings certainly beats a blank. And as you'll doubtless hear too many times this season, it's the thought that counts.

In the interest of spreading good tidings and maintaining goodwill among friends and families, we present a number of the most interesting e-card sites we found on the World Wide Web. It's not comprehensive, but this should provide you with a wealth of holiday-greeting options.

Greeting-cards.com (www.greeting-cards.com) offers multimedia e-cards for almost all of the major year-end holidays—Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's. It also has cards bearing the inoffensive catch-all holiday wish "Season's Greetings," and a special "Countdown to 2000" one for the Y2K-obsessed. (But we found nothing for winter solstice; pagans deserve cards too.)

What's neat about Greeting-cards.com's site is the range of card choices and service options. You can personalize and send animated musical Web cards right through the site or download cool Windows "super cards," little movies with animation, music, and interactivity that you can house on your computer's hard drive and send directly from your e-mail account. (The super cards are free for Greeting-cards.com members; nonmembers pay $1.49 for each super card they send.) You can opt for free cards that include advertisements (the card company has to make money somehow, you know); become a Greeting-cards.com member (the only cost is sharing some demographic information), which gives you access to a larger number of e-cards; or become a gold member—with a six-month gold membership you can send unlimited, ad-free cards for $14.95.

Cyber-Cards.com (www.cyber-cards.com) is a neat little online card and gift shop that presents e-cards to cover just about everything from birthdays to bat mitzvahs. Naturally there are offerings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's, but it is disappointing that Kwanzaa is left out, as is winter solstice. Two things put this site back in our good graces (with reservations). First, Cyber-Cards.com also serves as an online community for poets and poetry fans. Second, it presents a wide collection of unique cards, including some with cool Java effects. Sending cards is a snap: You pick the images you like, type in the name of your recipient, and compose your own personal message. Preview the card, and if you like it, press the send button. It's fast, and it's free, with a catch—there is an advertisement included within each e-card.

Awesomecards.com (www. awesomecards.com) is a pretty garden- variety cyber greeting-card site, but we love it for its friendly, goofy spirit. Awesomecards.com is set up like most sites that offer free electronic cards—you pick your artwork, opt to use the message the site provides or write something of your own, and send it. What's really cool here is the sensibility, manifested in the loopy cartoons and animated graphics featured in these, um, awesome cards. The major holidays are fairly well represented here, but yet again, winter solstice is nowhere to be seen. And Samhain, the pagan equivalent toHalloween? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Blue Mountain Arts Electronic Greeting Cards (www.bluemountain.com) is the granddaddy of e-greeting sites. Hands down, this is the most egalitarian site we've seen. No matter what you're celebrating, be it Guy Fawkes Day, Diwali (the Hindu festival of lights), Sweetest Day, Samhain, or—thank the goddess—winter solstice, you'll find beautiful e-cards, available in a host of languages, to commemorate the occasion. Blue Mountain cards are wonderful offerings that are every bit as nice as the ones you'll find in the mall card shops. Noted greeting-card poet Susan Polis Schutz offers some of her sentimental yet popular prose at this site, and there always seem to be new, imaginative card-art offerings. Did we mention these animated musical cards are all free, with no intrusive banner advertisements? That's the best news of all—and you can decide when the cards will be delivered, which makes them perfect for mass holiday e-mailing.

We would be remiss if we didn't mention that greeting-card behemoths Hallmark (www.hallmark.com) and American Greetings (www.americangreetings.com) also have Web sites that offer hundreds of free e-cards online. (This is a relatively new development—both companies previously offered for-fee electronic cards but gave in to competition from Blue Mountain et al.'s freebies; American Greetings still offers some for-sale cyber cards.) If your friend simply adores Hallmark's humorous Shoebox Greetings line, for instance, you can satisfy his or her wishes and your need to save time by dashing off a Shoebox e-card. Just add your personal message, select a delivery date, and it's done. The bigwig sites also offer options for buying traditional cards online, and on American Greetings' site, for a fee, you can create paper cards online. Of course, pagans again get short shrift: No winter solstice cards were found on either site. Bah humbug.

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Holiday Guide Feature archives

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Stuffed (11/18/2009)
The 2009 City Paper Holiday Guide

The Gifts That Count (11/18/2009)
The presents that have stayed in our writers' thoughts

The Wish List (11/18/2009)
Gifts we wish we could afford

More from Natalie Davis

Smooth Sailing (8/21/2002)
Ben Cardin and Elijah Cummings Find Little Competition in Congressional Races

Out at the Polls (8/14/2002)
Examining Gay-rights Records in the Gubernatorial Race

Misery Loves Company (7/24/2002)
Introducing the Pro-Anorexia Web, Where the Ultimate Control Freaks Find Friendship,

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