Buying, writing and finally getting to the post office to send holiday cards to faraway friends and family can take a good chunk of time. If you’re a connoisseur of greeting cards, then you probably won’t need any help with the process. But if you’re like me – short on time and a bit of a holiday procrastinator – it’s helpful to have an easy and quick way to let people know you’re thinking of them this season.
For those who are always on the go, iOS apps are a convenient card-sending option. You can create and send personalised cards in no time, whether it’s during your bus commute to and from work or while on a 30-minute lunch break. Apple’s Cards is one of the better available apps (for more information, check out our full review), but if you’re looking for different card designs or less expensive options, here are some alternatives to consider. (All apps are available for free in the App Store, unless otherwise noted.)
Red Stamp is perfect for those who want to send their friends and family minimalist cards for every occasion. The holiday section includes tonnes of photo and non-photo postcard options, separated into seven categories: Christmas, Hanukkah, Holiday Card, Holiday Party, Holiday Thanks (Gift), Holiday Thanks (Party/Event) and Thanksgiving (not so relevant for most Australians, but handy for those who celebrate the holiday) – this app has you covered all season long, and then some. (Most of the card designs are free, though Red Stamp also offers premium designs that cost an additional dollar.)
Card designs often offer different colour themes, so if you’re not really a red-and-green person, you’ll have other colors to choose from.
What makes Red Stamp stand out among other card-making apps are its photo layouts: Depending on the design, you’re able to add up to four different images on a single card. So if you don’t have a perfect group shot, you can combine portraits of everyone to create a nice photo collage. You can add a short message on the front of the card, but you won’t be able to write anything long on the back. On the plus side, you can easily share the card via Facebook, Twitter, email, or text – a great feature if you want to limit the number of physical cards you send. The app will, however, send the card by mail to up to to 189 recipients, so even if you have a long list, Red Stamp will be able to handle it.
Requires iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later.
Pros: Cute, modern designs; lots of photo layout and colour options; sends cards to individual recipients; can pull images from Instagram and Facebook; great photo-adjusting mode
Cons: Not able to write longer messages on back of card; no font customisation; some card designs require in-app purchase of $0.99
Price: From $0.49-$1.99/card, $0.29 postage included
SnapShot Greeting Card
NSN Solution’s SnapShot Greeting Card is one of the few apps that lets you create and send traditional folded cards (the company also has a postcard-making app called SnapShot Holiday Postcard). You even get your first card for free!
The front of the card features a full-page photo, which you can choose from your photo library or the app’s built-in artwork; you can also take a photo from within the app. The built-in artwork includes more than two dozen holiday images with related greetings. You can also add a themed border and a customised caption, so if you use your own image, you will be able to add more holiday flair to it.
The app lets you choose between 11 fonts for the caption on the front of the card, but oddly, does not offer any font options for the message inside the card. Once you’re finished, you can easily add recipients manually or by accessing your Address Book; SnapShot will send all of the cards directly to your contacts at once.
In order to purchase cards, you need to buy credits through your Account settings first. It’s slightly inconvenient that you have to do this in a separate area from the checkout, but the process is simple enough to follow.
Requires iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.0 or later.
Pros: Folded card options; possible to rotate photos on card
Cons: Not many built-in themes and artwork; slightly inconvenient payment method; more expensive than other options
Price: US$6 per card (International shipping).
Bill Atkinson PhotoCard
Bill Atkinson Photography’s PhotoCard app – like most other card-making apps – lets you create and send postcards to multiple recipients. But with this app, the photograph takes centre stage – you can’t add any text or borders to the image on the front of the postcard. (You can, however, add a caption that will be printed on the back of the card). The back of the card is a different, and more embellished, story.
You can choose from dozens of fonts and change the font size of your message. The app also includes around 400 stickers – little themed illustrations – that you can use to decorate your card. The app lets you resize, rotate and duplicate, or just swipe them right off the page. The holiday-themed stickers include illustrations of snowmen, stockings and more – while they aren’t the most beautiful images, they add fun and colour to short messages.
Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you can send the card via email, or by mail. You will need to purchase credits in order to go through the checkout process.
Requires iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 4.0 or later.
Pros: Fun stickers to decorate the postcard; easy-to-use interface; lots of font customisation
Cons: Must buy credits to purchase cards; no built-in holiday themed photos
Price: Print-and-mail cards to US addresses cost$1.50, including First Class postage, $2.25 to other countries.
AnguriaLab’s Postino app has similar features as SnapShot greeting card, but with the same format as Bill Atkinson Photography’s PhotoCard. You can only add one photo to the front of your postcard, and there are no card themes or designs to choose from. Instead, you can decorate your card with holiday-themed borders – there are 16 included in the app. They are somewhat reminiscent of Microsoft Word graphic art, but some of the borders are passably cute so that they do add something to the card.
One cool feature that’s unique to Postino is the ability to draw your signature onto your postcards. While the iPhone screen isn’t particularly great for handwriting, if you have a small stylus, it can add that special touch of handwriting to your digitally-produced holiday card.
Once you’re done, Postino makes it easy to preview both the front and back of your postcard and send it to multiple recipients at once. To send the card, however, you will need to purchase Postino stamps, through the app’s Stamps tab. Unfortunately you can only purchase them via PayPal, but the process is still fairly simple – and you’ll always be able to keep track of how many stamps you have via a red indicator bubble over the Stamps tab.
Requires an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3.0 or later.
Pros: Fun signature feature; easy-to-use interface; downloadable frames for various occasions
Cons: Limited to PayPal for payment; no font customisation;
Price: US$2 per card (US shipping only). Bulk discounts available, from US$1.60 per card.