Are Greeting Cards a Thing of the Past?

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: Alden Jewell

This year, we emailed an electronic letter reporting on our family events and offering best wishes to all the friends and relations to whom in the past we had snail-mailed Jewish New Year greeting cards. We felt guilty about switching away from the time-intensive activity of buying, signing and addressing snail-mail cards, and worried that the email would signal others that we viewed our time as too valuable to spend on a card. We don’t.

We’ve noticed that we are receiving fewer snail-mail greeting cards, both now and at the Christmas/New Year season too, so our behavior is fairly typical. Is the social norm of sending greeting cards breaking down? Or is it just substitution toward the less time-intensive form of greeting? Since I don’t think we’re atypical, I have to ask: Why the trend?

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COMMENTS: 60


  1. lana says:

    why spend money on cards and postage when you can select a cool, often personalizable, animated card and send it over the internet with little to no expense and much less time?
    I like snail mail but most christmas cards are obviously purchased and sent in bulk. They’re not picked to be special to us and don’t even have our name anywhere but the envelope, i’d just as soon have something i can watch online and let my kid watch and be entertained for a few minutes. But i’m young and think a facebooked thank-you note is perfectly acceptable too. I don’t know what dear abby would say about the whole thing.

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  2. Greg Hart says:

    We switched a couple of years ago, partly because we procrastinated and partly because we hated the work of paper cards which just got thrown away. Last year, we did an e-card with a video showing our year and emailed and posted on Facebook. One advantage I didn’t think of was all of the comments that people would post on the video are now a permanent record for me (and not just thrown away). Someday I will like to look back on the card and comments. It is not only cheaper and easier, but more lasting. I will never send a real card again.

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  3. Stephen K says:

    The demise of all forms of hand-written communication is a depressing trend.

    I don’t think an email can ever be a treasured possession in the same way a hand-written letter can,

    Get writing people!

    For greeting cards it can get different though since they’re often impersonal and sent out of some weird sense of duty.

    It’s not really as big an issue. I guess it depends on who the recipient is and whether or not it’s sent with genuine affection rather than a wish to ‘keep up appearnances’.

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  4. kevin says:

    How do you infer that your behavior is typical, just from the data on the number of cards you have received?

    We have seen ours balloon in the last few years. Probably because we have school age children, and the number of relationships, even casual, that we have has gone up.

    But, my data is anecdotal as well.

    Personally, I think sending greeting cards is silly at this point, and don’t get me started with the “here is a picture of our perfect family in the same white shirt and jeans at the beach with a 10 paragraph report on how awesome we are” cards I receive.

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  5. MariolaCMS says:

    Personally, i think that the social norm of sending greeting cards is breaking down. I don’t mean that people are just going to stop sending greetings cards. What I mean is that just like you, people are looking for other methods, and I completely agree. Sending greetings electronically, via email, or any other way through the computer is a lot more benefitial to you. Yes, it takes the “warmth” of the christamas greeting card were everyone signs it, but sending it via email has several benefits. Time is very valuable, and you spend less time sending an email that going out, shopping for cards, making everyone sign it, and shipping it off. You also say money, and it is way easier. These things are making many people leave behind the habit of making their greetings cards.

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  6. Robert Sandor says:

    I suppose that I can only guess as a 23 year old.

    (1) With the internet and constant communication and information sharing through Facebook, e-mail, and other social web-based content, there is no need for the annual update Christmas card describing what has happened, I have already seen what has happened on Facebook.

    (2) I have never really used snail-mail for anything but bills (and I do those mostly on-line), so this seems… inefficient.

    (3) I do not see snail mail as “better” in any way, only slower. I do not care if someone took the time to write out what they wanted to say. Plus, I can write back and forth on e-mail several times in the time that it would take me to get the snail mail in the first place.

    Overall, I would say that an inefficient traditional methods tend to die off as people move towards efficiency, even at the expense of what the remember is socially considered special.

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  7. Joe says:

    We have not seen a diminishment of snail-mail Christmas cards. We view the snail-mail cards not as a timesuck but another way to get into the Christmas spirit in many ways:

    1) As senders, we’ve made the card signing and addressing a ritual that requires booze, cookies, and a fireplace.

    2) As receivers, we display the cards prominently as part of holiday decor.

    What we’ve found is that almost everyone in our immediate family have ritualized this in pretty much the same way. But, perhaps, my family is not typical. We may get better metrics on the e-mail phenomenon on how much snail-mail card volume is handled by the post office every year.

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  8. nv says:

    Social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) have put many people in much more regular contact with old friends, schoolmates, and relatives scattered all over the globe.

    Rather than feeling the need to greet and update these acquaintances in a single annual mass-mailing, we check in with one another far more frequently online–whether we write a quick note to offer words of encouragement of affection, or browse the photos they post of their kids or their most recent vacation.

    So now, greeting cards feel not so much like a waste of time and effort, but redundant.

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  9. Melie says:

    I would like to think it has to do with society moving beyond appearances to the point of the exercise. The purpose of personal messages should be to communicate caring and a desire to remain in touch with the recipient. Too often, the holiday cards I receive via snail mail appear to be more about the cost of the card and how much time was spent in putting it together. Though any mailing is appreciated, I prefer an email with non-posed photos and real information about the happenings in friends’ lives over staged, glitzy productions.

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  10. Amy says:

    It’s not just the time, effort and inconvenience involved in sending cards (although those are all good reasons to abandon them). There’s also an environmental impact, from the destruction of trees to create the cards to the printing and delivery processes that get them into the consumer’s hands, and right on down to the delivery to the recipients’ homes. All of that adds up–and the end result isn’t even necessarily a timely greeting. (How often do birthday cards sent via snail mail actually arrive on someone’s birthday?) I stopped sending greeting cards several years ago, and I don’t regret it or feel guilty. On the contrary, I feel I’m doing my small part for the environment while making things easier on myself. A true win-win!

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  11. Middle American says:

    The fact that an economist has to ask whether or not to send an actual card at the expense of a few moments, some saliva, and a stamp under 4 bits explains the Great Recession.

    Yes, it reeks El Cheapo.

    Next, we can address sending your wife flowers on Valentine’s Day and buying lemonade from the neighbor’s kid.

    As Nike said, Just Do It.

    Or, don’t.

    And sleep outside for awhile.

    Do you need an answer on whether to pay 27 year old traders a million dollar bonus or to raise taxes on the top 1% to Reagan levels?

    If you do, you’re either in Washington, New York, or an academic ivory tower.

    Save El Cheapo emails for NON occasions, and you’re much more likely to get them back, as well as actual responses, cards, and, yes, even gifts, on the important occasions.

    And think of all the money you’ll save not having to hire pallbearers.

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  12. dude says:

    Does anyone still use regular mail for anything? I bought a book of stamps a few years ago(can’t even remember why), and 99% of them are still sitting in my desk drawer. They’ve probably raised the rates since then anyway.

    I know the only mail i get is junk – even my bills are via email now. I may as well just take the bottom off my mailbox & deposit a recycling receptacle under it.

    Generally holiday greetings are disseminted via email & text message. Sending people greetings printed on & encased in deceased trees just seems wasteful.

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  13. nonsense says:

    I think that the convenience of the internet has and is slowly phasing out the need for anything relating to snail mail. I, on the other hand, prefer snal mail items when it comes to friends or family. I believe it is more personal and requires more effort (for me at least) than just typing away at the computer. For occasions like birthdays or holidays, I prefer to write out the card and write out an individualised message-not a generic message. In the end, for me, writing out a card takes longer than me just typing away an email or e-card. And I believe the people I send it to appreciate the effort. I know that between my father and myself, we would just send cards to each other as a secondary form of communication after the telephone. We’d send each other Halloween cards, Easter cards, etc., just for kicks but I have kept every single one.

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  14. Ian Kemmish says:

    Buying and signing a card isn’t time intensive. Making your own card and adding some nice calligraphy is time intensive.

    I’ll wager that the number of hand-made cards being sent isn’t declining.

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  15. Alex says:

    If you don’t view your time as too valuable to use on a card, why didn’t you continue sending cards? Either the social norm is breaking down and you’ve caved to its convention, or you actually do view your time as too valuable to use on sending cards.

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  16. Eileen M. Wyatt says:

    If one has a large number of online friends spread across the globe, one positively has some form of electronic contact info but doesn’t necessarily have a street address.

    364 days of the year, one doesn’t *need* a street address for these people. Compiling and maintaining street addresses is labor-intensive and ordinarily has no value to the relationship, which bops along happily in purely online form.

    E-cards make more sense.

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  17. Maria says:

    I’ve watched with sadness as the number of Christmas cards I receive goes down every year. (I’m in my late 30s.) The obvious reason is that most people feel they are too busy to send cards — but I stress the word “feel,” because busy people who appreciate handwritten notes still find time to send them. I love beautiful cards and enjoy the ritual of writing them, but my own pleasure has been diminished by the paltry response in recent years, even from friends with whom I still communicate happily in other ways.

    A permanent shift in attitudes is revealed in some of the comments above: greeting cards are “inefficient” compared to e-mail and Facebook. But cards were never meant to be efficient. They were meant as little works of art, designed to express the taste of the sender and brighten the day of the receiver. It’s not efficient to decorate our homes, either — much easier to leave all the walls white — but you can’t enjoy life by reducing it to a series of efficiencies.

    Those who do send cards often send those horrible photo strips with their names pre-printed on them, so they don’t even have to pick up a pen to sign the thing. This is yet another misunderstanding of the holiday card as a self-centered news update rather than an other-centered packet of warm thoughts.

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  18. Maureen says:

    As long as I’m alive there will be one customer left for good old fashioned Christmas cards.

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  19. Caro says:

    Wow, what a bunch of super serious overthinkers we have here!
    Greeting cards – via “snail mail” – are lovely to send and lovely to receive. Who doesn’t like coming home to mail that isn’t advertising, bills or catalogues? A greeting card – for any occasion or none at all – simply says “I thought of you” and takes what, a moment’s effort and a stamp?
    It’s also something tangible to hold and return to…who hasn’t kept a dear grandmother’s Birthday card for years on end, or a lover’s Valentine?
    Internet email cards are just another impersonal step away from “the classics.” So sad.

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  20. Lisa says:

    I, too, have noticed a decline in the number of snail-mail cards received, but I, for one, will persist in sending them out each holiday.

    If the point is to spread ‘efficient’ holiday messages, then an emailed message is fine, but if the point is to send a personal, heart-felt greeting to loved ones, email cannot hold a candle to a snail-mail card. Hand-made cards painstakingly drawn by children to their aunts, uncles, and cousins will never be outranked by an electronic “Happy Birthday, Dude” squealed from computer speakers.

    For me, the whole experience of sending snail-mail cards– the inefficiency of the whole process–is part and parcel of the ‘why’ of doing it in the first place. The time you take to either make, or select a card, add a message, address the envelope, and finally, send it off in the mail is part of the love you put into the message.

    No matter how busy the season, or how crammed the schedule, the person who sent you that snail mail card took the time to think of you. And that’s the real gift.

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  21. Roland says:

    I see the value in sending a real greeting card to friends, family, business associates and customers and that’s why I invested in software that allows me to send custom cards from my computer for about $1.00 each (postage included). I save time and money and everyone gets a greeting card with a non-stock image and a personalized message (in my handwriting) that is less likely to be thrown away. There are several companies that provide this service, some better than others. I send at least one card everyday and the relationships I’ve built have made it extremely worthwhile.

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  22. Adam says:

    Maybe it’s an age thing (I’m 23) but I don’t see the point in cards. My mother likes them so she is the only person I buy them for but none of my friends have ever sent cards to each other.

    Like other’s have said, with an email/Facebook message at least I can respond and we can actually talk. Plus you inevitably phone the person you sent the card to just so you can say exactly what was on the card, but to me a phone call is far more personal and interesting. ?5 also seems a lot to spend on a card and stamps just for it to be quickly read and then thrown in the a draw / the bin. I’d rather the other person kept the money (or gave it to me)

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  23. Marc LeVine says:

    I am a big proponent of Social Media and E-mail. We should use these great tools to simplify our lives whenever we can. I agree. However, some traditions do not need makeovers. Greeting cards are hokey – but, they are very traditional and sentimental – especially during the holidays and on those special ocasions like Birthdays, Anniversaries and in times of sympathy.

    I say we should NOT mess with this tradition.

    Marc Levine
    Director of Social Media
    RiaEnjoile, Inc.
    http://www.RiaEnjolie.com

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  24. Diego.CMS says:

    Greeting cards are still been used, but as the article establishes the amount of greeting card sent not each year (but every day) is decreasing. But why? It’s simple, the opportunity cost for a person to buy a greeting card is much higher than the opportunity cost of just filling a template of an online “greeting card” in a certain website. What does this means? It is more complex to someone to get of his house, drive into a grocery store, buy a greeting card and sign it, rather than (what people are doing now) getting online, search for website and sign it. You can still find greeting cards in grocery stores, but the output of this is getting each day lower. Are Greeting Cards a Thing of the Past? No, I don’t think so, it’s just that people are adapting into the facilities that technology is offering. Greeting cards have their audience (costumers) because if they hadn’t they wouldn’t be in a grocery store for being bought.

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  25. keylaCMS says:

    There are definitely more benefits in sending the card using the internet than buying an actual card. To send a card by mail is one of the worst things ever. First of all, you don’t know if the card is going to make it on time, or if it is even going to get to the right place. And then you not only have to spend money on buying the card, the stamps, etc. but also on sending it. Technology nowadays allows us to avoid all of this and create our own personalized cards online. There are so many websites that provide us with a wide variety of pre-made cards to chose from and they also allow us to write our own message. Using the online cards you are saving time and money, which are extremely valuable. You can even put various emails in one card, which saves you the time and money of sending 5 different cards by mail, for example. Also e-cards are way more lasting than paper cards. Not only does the paper get old, but you might misplace it and lose it, meanwhile all of your e-cards can remain in your computer, and won’t go anywhere (unless you change computers.) Bottom line, technology is so popular nowadays for a reason, and I believe that every one of us should take advantage of it.

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  26. JoseACMS says:

    The main reason why the social norm of sending greeting cards is breaking down, is because they are aren’t as efficient as emails. The Information Revolution, which has spawned due to the internet, has changed the way information is transmitted. Even though a greeting card brings a special feeling of “warmth” to the receiver and often offers more detail, it takes more time to do, and in the end, time is the ultimate constraint. For everybody nowadays its easier for them to send a email while they are at work, rather than having to take the card and deposit it at a mail station. Nevertheless, sending the greeting as a email allows it to immediately arrive at the receiver and it guarantees you that it won’t get lost or misplaced. Essentially, everyone feel more secure about sending emails, and with everything that is going on a their day, this “trend” works better for people.

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  27. theflyingdragonCMS says:

    Blame it on technology if you will, but the social norm of sending greeting cards is breaking down. Just like many people are now reading the news online, people are sending their cards online. Time is a valuable asset, and many people prefer using it in a more productive way other than going through the trouble of buying a greeting card, filling it out and sending it. The internet has provided us a much simpler way to sending our message across in a much smaller amount of time. In the end it all ends up with tradeoffs, what do you value the most tradition or time?

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  28. Ashish says:

    What about services that combine the benefits of technology and personalization, but still provide nice designs, convey a thoughtful gesture and break away from the noise of e-cards that you get? For example: http://www.tinyprints.com/greeting/

    Most people here are talking about how easy and convenient is it for the sender, but the recipient also knows that, which makes it less special. For example, getting 100 FB posts on my wall for my birthday means little to nothing to me, since I know that everyone likely was on FB, received a reminder, and spent all of 5 seconds thinking of something to write. I can’t even tell you who all those people are, but I can definitely tell you who sent me a paper card (sure it was a much smaller number, but I still remember)…

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  29. Eric M. Jones says:

    Yes. Same as lighting candles on the Xmas tree.

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  30. JoaquinCMS says:

    I believe the cause of this switch is a matter of convenience more than anything. Today, we have social networking aids that allow us to preform a very similar tasks as the greeting card would, just in a faster and time efficient way. It all comes down to making a smart decision, this would imply weighing both possibilities and their benefits. In a perfect world, everybody would choose the decision with the lowest opportunity cost, or the decision that implies loosing the lest profit. In this case handwritten greeting cards would bear a lot of cost since they are worth money and time. Hence unless you would send the card to someone who you really care about and whom’s motivation exceeds the monetary and time cost of sending a handwritten card, a person would be inclined to chose to send a E-Card, much simpler in nature and almost free in terms of cost and time. In illation, it is the lower opportunity cost of sending an E-Card to most people that is steering the trend of sending greeting cards towards the internet and electronic approach.

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  31. Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team says:

    We tend to examine value short term. But have you ever handled a 100 year old document, will, property deed, post card, letter, missive, or Greeting Card.

    There is power in the letter still. The dated envelope, old stamp and hand canceled mark, the yellowed paper, the hand written cursive from a writer trained on a McGuffey reader, the quaint colloquial speech, the dated references, the dated metaphors, the allusions to great historical events we can only read in history books, the personal and real time reaction to a war, train robbery, or a flood, the picture of your city 100 years ago on the back of a post card, and finally the salutation and signature of one long dead who is in a better place and knows you from the ether.

    I doubt your Youtube videos, Tweets, and Facebook will be around in accessible archives in 50 years or even 20 years. Letters keep in attics, stuffed in walls, behind filing cabinets, under car seats and sealed in time capsules.

    I save ALL my personal letters. I save less than 1% of my emails on hardcopy. Which do you think will last a Century or two? Dead Sea Scrolls are over 2000 years old.

    BTW what is CMS?

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  32. Gabriel Barkin says:

    I’m surprised that NO ONE has mentioned what I think is the best reason to stop sending paper cards — which is to reduce/eliminate the use of paper products as well as the use of gasoline etc. to ship it all around the world (from tree to mill to print shop to gift shop to your home to the post office to your friends).

    Until last year. my wife and I sent a mix CD as a “holiday card” for a decade or so; now we ‘ve replaced that with a posted online holiday music playlist (I use http://www.playlist.com) and send a message to everyone we love to click a link and spend a few moments listening to some good music and thinking lovely thoughts. Some folks missed the CD, but because we explained why we were doing this in our annual greeting message, the response, even from those who missed the tactileness of an actual CD, was appreication for reducing waste and use of resources for what is really a frivolous — though socially valuable and fun — tradition.

    (And BTW, I’m sure the first people to receive greeting cards sometimes said, “Gosh, this is so newfangled and cheesy, I’d rather have had a personal visit!”)

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  33. annacms says:

    I believe the use of cards is now vanishing from society because people do not have the time to spend on writing a card and having to mail it. What is happening is that technology is allowing people to perform their tasks much faster then they could before and even though the cards might seem more personal and meaningful they are being replaced by emails due to the fact the marginal cost of making the cards is greater than the marginal benefit. When making a card money is spent and time has to be put into going to the store and mailing the cards, while when sending an email it only takes a couple of minutes and it is free. The use of cards might seem better in some cases due to the fact they are more personal but society has already changed to a more efficient way of delivering those messages. Societie’s shift to electronic messages is inevitable due to having such a great marginal advantage of wasting time (which is so precious now-a-days) over the cost of loosing some of the individuality of the card.

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  34. ChristianCMS says:

    The amount of greeting cards send these days has decreased in great amount compared to what people would send back then when technological resources were not so advanced. WHY THESE DECREASE? People prefer sending an letter via email rather than a greeting cards because of opportunity cost. There is a higher opportunity cost when you send a greeting cards because you have to spend money, spend gas, spend time on buying card and walking to postoffice to send card. There is a much lower opportunity cost of sending a christmas letter via email because you barely spend time turning the computer on and thinking what to say. Some people don’t even use email they just log on to Facebook and write on someone’s wall written Merry Christmas.

    Is the social norm of sending greeting cards breaking down? It is not breaking down because people are still capable of expressing what they want in a card but via email. Greeting cards aren’t broking down there just substituted by email that take less time and resources because of techonological advancement.

    WAIT now that I realize maybe since there is an improvement on technology, does it mean that there will be an increase on how much greeting cards via mail are send(more EFFICIENT). OUTSIDE THE PPF ?

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  35. MariaCMS says:

    Well, it is much more easier and more practical to send an e-mail than to go buy a card and send it by mail. So, I wouldn’t say it’s about the money, but about the commodity of staying at your house and sending the e-mail when ever you feel like it. Because of this more people are choosing to send e-mails for special holidays to friends and family rather than the original decorative cards.

    On the other hand, the cost for sending an e-mail is not sending a more appealing and meaningful card. An e-mail may have a touching message but a card is always more special and most favored. An e-mail goes to trash once you read it while a card is something many people are used to keep as a nice memory. In other words, a card is more personal therefore it seems more meaningful to the one receiving it.

    What I’m trying to say is that it’s a choice people have to make between being more practical and making things easier, or staying original and personal.

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  36. WilfredoCMS says:

    Sending greeting cards is a tradition that with time is disappearing. As generations pass by this tradition has been fading due to the technological advances of the time we live in. Years ago, people spent their time and money in cards, envelopes, stamps etc.. for the greeting cards they wanted to send. Nowadays with just several clicks you are able to send a thousands cards without spending a cent or a lot of time. It is obvious that people will choose the choice that is better and more comfortable for them and in this case it is the electronic Greeting cards because you save money and time, which are very important to us.

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  37. Andrea Deegan says:

    OK, hands up I am a greeting card retailer. Pushing that interest totally aside though……….
    I am also very passionate about conencting, maintaing relationships, sincerity and making someone else’s day. Next people will be sending e-mail Sypathy cards.
    Where’s the real feeling behind an e-mail at Christmas time that has been sent to 50 people. If I got one, I’d delete it and forget about and also think “how lazy and insincere”.
    If I got a gorgeous greeting card with a special, individual handwritten message, I would display it, walk past it daily for about a month and remember the effort and thought for some time to come.
    http://www.thinkcards.com.au

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  38. Brit says:

    31,@Drill-Baby-Drill Drill Team, said it; “There is power in the letter still.” I cherish the letters and cards with funny or thoughtful notes I’ve received over the years. I will not ever have a collection of the emails I’ve received–most just glanced at and deleted, not worth keeping. You can’t keep your place in a book with an email, or frame it. You can’t dab a touch of perfume on an email, or seal it with wax to make the opening ceremonial. You can’t come across an email in the back of a drawer after long years, and be transported by the familiar writing of a beloved hand. You can’t get the same little jolt of pleasure from checking your inbox that you do spying a handwritten envelope in your mailbox.

    What we gain in convenience, we lose in heart, soul, meaning. It is not always a wise trade.

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  39. deepak says:

    In India it was a ritual to send cards during Deepawali , to relatives and business associates .
    The cards over the last 10 yrs has decreased dramatically though I still send the card as I used to do 10 yrs back

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  40. Steve K says:

    We’re on the fence. When we retired a few years ago we cut the list into two parts. About 20 get cards, the others get emails.

    The emails are mostly hello messages, just to keep in distant touch.

    The cards are one of a kind. As an advanced hobbyist photographer (and now leisure world-traveler) I pick the one that I think will resonate with the receiver and print it. Either my wife or I write (handwrite) a note. I now enjoy the process of selecting, printing and sending the recipient’s “special” card. It gives me time to think about the person and why they’re important to me. I’ve been pleased/honored to see the people save them, and occasionally even frame them.

    It all seems so much more genuine to me this way. Those to whom we mail those cards are the ones we really do wish a happy holiday and new year to. The e-greetings are far more casual.

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  41. Roland says:

    I was working on something at work today and my cell phone rang and it was from my beautiful Marine Corp daughter Cora Luque. She was sharing with me a photo (something we’ve been doing a lot lately since I got my new phone). What a pleasant surprise–it was a picture of my handsome grandson Ivan, Jr. It really made my day and I was prompted to send a copy of it to my mom and step-dad down in Florida. Now, they are not totally technologically illiterate; they have a computer and cell phones and all but sometimes they’re so busy with real life stuff (like gardening and travel) that they don’t get all the other important stuff (i.e., pictures of great grand kids) that gets attached to the emails, the blog posts, and the tweets. So…I sent them a card! From my computer. A real card that will be delivered to their REAL mailbox in just a few days.
    See the card

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  42. Eric says:

    I don’t like greeting cards where all the text is written by whoever has made the card and the sender just adds their name to it. It means more when the sender has actually written a sentence or two.

    That original content means more than what format the correspondence takes.

    Last week…
    Me: It’s been so long since I sent a snail mail. Stamps are probably up to 55c now.
    Mum: They’re 60c now.

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  43. Eileen M. Wyatt says:

    Could someone please explain how sending a message by email inherently means that little thought or personalization went into it?

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  44. Eric M. Jones says:

    Before the Civil War there were few Xmas cards….This tradition started as a crass commercial enterprise.when cheap color printing was developed. This was probably brought to you by the same people in Worcester, MA who invented Valentines. Those clever Yankees…..

    A friend of mine was contracted to install a spectacular Christmas tree in the fanciest hotel lobby in town. The manager asked him if it was fireproof.

    He said, “I think it is, let’s check…” He touched his Zippo lighter to it. What happened then was REALLY spectacular!

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  45. Rajat says:

    I’ve never felt any warmth giving or receiving Christmas cards as a child. The text inside them were all the same manufactured text, and shortly after Christmas we would throw them out. By this token, sending e-cards makes sense, since it serves the same purpose with the waste.

    However, my opinion on birthday, Mother’s/Father’s Day, and similar occasions differ. Whereas Christmas cards are sent amass, these cards are sent individually. For birthdays and the such, I prefer actual cards since there is some thought in selecting one, even if you don’t customize the text.

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  46. doug m says:

    The practice of sending greeting cards is going away.

    E-cards are no substitute. Cards represent a sacrafice of time and money. They show that you care about and are thinking about someone. If the cost of sending cards fall, so does the value.

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  47. Kristen Bannister says:

    Isn’t it nice getting a note in the mail? I think so. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy email. It’s a cross between a telephone call and a postcard. But all this social networking puts a distance between people. It’s all in the ether. I enjoy seeing a note in my mail rather than a bill. A little bit of warmth you can hold in your hand goes a long way.
    I started my greeting card business, http://www.ameliasgreetings.com/, because I enjoy making and sending cards. I think other people do too. It’s a lost art. I think I’m on a personal mission to bring back traditional correspondence! I’m actually in the process of making stationery for kids as well. Writing notes and letters is an essential skill. It’s something that’s still taught in schools. So why not have some new places to find intriguing designs like http://www.thinkcards.com.au/ or http://www.ameliasgreetings.com/.

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  48. Norbert Guedes says:

    Perhaps I’m the exception that confirms the rule around here… but I don’t think greeting cards (and specially postcards) are a thing of the past at all. I do think however, that if you are making this question/statement online, you’ll mostly get biased answers from those who are often online and prefer the digital to snail mail anyway. How about the others who are not so confortable with being online? And the ones who are not online at all? Sure, that group might be slowly decreasing (which would prove your point), but there are much more who step into the digital world and find it cold and shallow – and feel the need to make an extra effort to revive the offline ways of communicating. Because they are special – now more than ever.

    The best example of this is the Postcrossing project at http://www.postcrossing.com – they are creating a postcard revolution that is proving that snail mail is not dead – on the contrary, it’s alive and well (in over 200 countries). People from all age ranges (including many millennials) are sending each other postcards because… it’s meaningful, it’s special! The physicality of a postcard in the mailbox coming from an unexpected random place in the world is making the day of these so called Postcrossers – not just twitter or Facebook.

    The act of handpicking, buying, writing, stamping and posting the postcard is more special than ever – because it now contrasts with all the digital world which is ever more distant and frivolous.

    I am a great fan of email and the digital world (by trade), but I avoid them when I want my wishes to be meaningful. I think that postcards (and greeting cards) are not a thing of the past. Other forms of communication came and went, many thought to be the one that was going to kill snail mail. But last time I checked, we still have postmans and what we tag on the fridge are postcards – not emails.

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  49. Will Stone says:

    It’s been a growing trend that the printed greeting card as well as the snail mail letter is going hte way of the dinosauer. With the advent of process such as those offered by linkpushing.net, we are also seeing even more of communication being done via the internet.

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  50. Cort says:

    I don’t want a mass-produced card to express some generic holiday greeting (snail or e-mail).

    My great-aunts/uncles, my grandparents, my former baby-sitters, and others are 70+ years old and don’t use computers.

    They LOVE getting cards and I love sending them.

    My friends in their 20s and 30s (like me) swim in a sea of e-stuff. They are hyper-connected and never get real cards.

    They LOVE getting cards and I love sending them (perhaps this group would appreciate a well-designed e-card from me just as much, though).

    My very young nieces and nephews too young to read. I’ll draw pictures inside homemade cards for them.

    They LOVE getting cards and I love sending them.

    To be more academic about it, it builds social capital in a way that a pre-fashioned messages can’t (again, with either snail or e-cards). Seeing their name hand-written by me with a message including references that are meaningful only in the context of our relationship has value.

    And, it doesn’t take THAT long.

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  51. Christie says:

    I have not seen my snail mail cards decline at all, and still enjoy the tradition. Most of my friends are in the midst of child raising – kids anywhere from infant to early high school – and when you don’t live in the same town or city, it’s a real treat to see pictures of the kids. Also, there is still something wonderful about opening an actual letter. Have no desire to do Facebook, et al – busy raising 4 kids – seems incredibly inane and really, who has the time? There are plenty of very educated and professional people that actually feel the same way. I do agree however that when the snail mail cards come, hate when there is no personal note added in – even just a line.

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  52. TBPortland says:

    It certainly is an interesting debate.

    Electronic vs. Traditional Greeting Cards
    Hand-written vs. Typed
    $$ vs. NO $$

    I’m one of those oddballs that sends out humerous (or, what I feel are funny…anyway) family photo greetings…usually themed. We’ve done so for the past 5 years, and find that they have become EXPECTED from friends and family. However, for us, the time and brain-power has become so immense – and let’s be honest ITS NOT CHEAP. Now looking into new, more cost-effective and efficient options.

    Wanted to share a new tool that COULD move toward the “best of both worlds” – ELECTRONIC and PERSONALIZED:

    Bamboo CardBuilder (http://apps.facebook.com/bamboocardbuilder/) for Facebook.

    As numerous folks pointed out above – many have reconnected with friends and family via Facebook -
    proving it a helpful forum for communication. Wacom’s Bamboo CardBuilder Facebook application allows simple creation of personalized greeting card, using your own photos, a library of borders, stamps, etc – and the BEST PART…using a Wacom Bamboo pen tablet (http://www.wacom.com/bamboo/) you can actually WRITE and SIGN your name…in your own handwriting…adding that personal touch.

    Gone are the days of boring type font and stock e-cards.

    Feel free to try it out!

    More details here: http://www.facebook.com/Wacom (click on Bamboo tab)

    (disclaimer: I do happen to represent Wacom Technology, but ran across this discussion and thought it would serve as relevant. Let me know if I can provide additional details)

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  53. Clare Davis @ Davis and Brown says:

    Well, like so many other things we are finding a quicker, cheaper and easier route to do our business. We cut out stages in banking order things over the internet and send text messages instead of talking. Lots of these are useful tools to our everyday lives. In fact, the youth generation of today who are too young to purchase cards at the moment will look in horror at us soon and say ” you used to send what?!!! Why would you bother with that?” and laugh at us with pity.
    Well the reason we do it is because in my attic at home, I have all of my children’s birthday cards and birth cards and have spent many a happy moment with them looking through them when I come across them upstairs. You will NEVER pick up an emial, let alone print it out and say with fondness, “ah remember when uncle Frank sent us a round robin animated Santa and left all the contacts on display to see who he’d missed out!”

    I am a greeting card designer by trade and feel this to be a dying art. To have the card in the flesh pushed through the door in the un predictable English weather is a feat in itself! Let’s keep this from dying out like many of our other industries and keep Britain (and other countries) moving!
    Sorry about any grammer or spelling mistakes x

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  54. Eric Bryant says:

    I’m a big fan of real, color glossy printed cards sent in the mail. There’s nothing like going to the mailbox after a tough day and seeing someone’s thoughtfulness expressed in the physical form of a card. It’s a winner every time. The best thing that happened ever in that department was when I discovered a service called SendOutCards that does it faster and cheaper (and better) than anyone else. Check it out at http://www.GiftAccountWalkthrough.com.

    Eric

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  55. Stan Timek says:

    Such a great topic, sorry I only found it now instead of when it first came out. Anyway, our new digital lifestyle and fast-paced culture have taken a bite out of the time-honored tradition of sending greeting cards… but not that big of a bite actually! What the stats have said is that people send ecards for the “mundane” things but they (young and old alike) still send real paper greeting cards for the major holidays and events in people’s lives. It turns out that the effort to write out a card is really appreciated by people and the “senders” know it!

    An interesting development in the real paper card space was brought to market by Atomic Greetings (I am involved with them). What Atomic Greetings has done is combine the digital lifestyle with the paper greeting card by enabling you to send a video message with your card. The video magically plays “inside” your card on your computer’s monitor. All you have to do is hold the card in front of your web cam – it’s really neat.

    The best thing is that as Clare Davis mentioned above, we all know where our special cards can be found. Whether it’s a dresser drawer or an old show box we all keep those special, heart-warming cards for years and years. With Atomic Greetings’ cards you’ll also be able to easily find that wonderful video of a loved one professing their devotion to you or a grandchild saying “thank you” for the birthday present. Try doing that with the tens of thousands of emails in our in-box or on our hard drives!

    You can check out the growing line of cards (including a special card from Santa!) at http://atomicgreetings.com

    Stan @ atomicgreetings.com

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  56. Evelyn says:

    I’m so glad this topic is being addressed. I’ve had several recent discussions about it with friends.

    I’ve noticed a decline in the holiday cards I’ve received in the past few years; although, if I send a card to someone, I generally receive one from them, even if their card arrives a few days later…

    I’ve also notices that of the folks who have switched to sending e-cards, each one has made a point of announcing the switch. I suppose it was that guilt thing. Some folks have covered both bases, sending an e-card and a snail-mail card. Most of the snail-mail cards I receive are personally signed — even the cleaning people and dentist find time to sign their cards these days. It seems they want to convey a personal touch and gain on customer satisfaction. Interesting. Wouldn’t it be sad if all the snail mail cards ended up coming from commercial enterprises?!

    I personally enjoy picking out cards for family and friends, and sending them out each year. I also enjoy getting snail-mail cards and photos and hanging them as part of the holiday decorations. I should mention that I also enjoy sending email cards to on-line friends and associates with whom I don’t want to lose touch. I expect I’ll continue learning and adapting to the latest technologies as they develop, and I’ll continue sending personalized cards as long as snail mail service remains an option.

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  57. Josh says:

    I have mailed cards for years, but recently my wife has found a new kind of way of sending a card. It’s called a Yard Card. A business sets up a greeting in someone’s yard and surprises the person on their birthday, anniversary, etc. We live in Mississippi and this idea isn’t really popular here yet. I bet as more and more people hear about this concept mailed cards will be a thing of the past. The Yard Cards are not very cheap if that’s what someone is looking for, but they are very personal and memorable. The website for the business we use is http://www.cardtheyardms.com in case you have no idea what I’m talking about. They have a bunch of pictures up to help you understand.
    So, yes I think snail mail is a thing of the past. I also think emailed cards are a cop out and personally do not like recieving them. :)

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  58. Alastair says:

    Don’t get me wrong, but sending meaningless cards out to people you hardly ever see or speak to from one end of the year to the next only serves to profit the greetings card companies. It’s an automated response. We feel obligated to run through our address book A to Z taking care not to miss anyone out for fear that they might send us a card when we forget them. If you’re going to write to someone there are 364 other days in the year this can be done, or you can call, but that would involve in engaging with another person, which is not such a chore if you actually like that person. It’s like texting. Why text? Speed, convenience, avoid dialogue? It’s hardly fast for a fat handed person like me.
    Getting letters are nice. They’re personal, and mean quite a lot. Christmas cards, well maybe if it’s more than “Best wishes from all of us”.
    Is this the begining of the end for greetings cards? I expect so and I don’t really care. Why? Well I think younger successive generations will opt for the ‘e-version’ out of convenience and evolution will see to it that ‘hard copy’ cards are consigned to Room 101 along with Fondue Sets. Sad in a way that hand writing will suffer for the same reason, if we let it.
    Companies sending Christmas greetings cards are purely a commercial affair. It’s a Marketing activity and so it is to some extent the family Christmas greetings card.
    Write a letter if you’re going to write something, if not, call someone, and if you can’t do that, well, I suppose the next best thing is an e-mail and possibly the cheapest method of delivery.
    As for mass producing cards to send to your customers or your friends & family you never see or speak to, how about you just cut out the middle man, save on the recycling and give the money you would have spent on cards & stamps to a charity of your choice. Imagine that. We are more comfortable spending £100′s on stupid cards but would never dream of saying to heck with the cards and donating that money to some worthy cause.

    How about it?

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