Save time and money this holiday season by sending an online animated Christmas card instead of a traditional printed card. Also known as e-cards, these online cards incorporate short movie clips, music and personalized text to create a one-of-a-kind greeting. Some cards can be personalized with your own photos and audio messages. E-cards are available in a variety of styles and themes to fit the personality of the sender and the recipient.
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This website’s unique features include beautiful animated paintings of holiday scenes; original music by Mike Hughes-Chamberlain; and whimsical cartoons of a cat named Fluff and two dogs named Chudleigh and Bertie.
“The Sugar Plum Fairy” card shows a tiny fairy decorating an evergreen tree to the tune of Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy." In “Winter Waltz,” two dogs, a cat and a bird make a snowman while Chopin’s “Minute Waltz“ plays in the background. One card becomes a matching game; another is an interactive puzzle. Most of the cards feature secular themes, although “The Christmas Tree” includes an angel that touches glass bulbs on a Christmas tree to bring the Nativity story to life.
The website currently has 25 Christmas e-cards; new ones are added each holiday season. An annual membership, which costs $12, enables you to personalize and send unlimited e-cards for one year.
Hallmark has 91 different cards divided into four categories: classics, humorous, cute and religious. Some cards feature popular television and movie characters like Hannah Montana and Charlie Brown. Other cards include beautiful artwork from Marjolein Bastin or Thomas Kincaid. There’s a card that includes a clip from a holiday episode of the “I Love Lucy” show and an animated “pop up” Christmas card that can be customized with your family’s photos. The “Polar Bear Delivery” e-card can be personalized by adding your recipient’s name to its video. Slideshow e-cards allow you to incorporate family photos to create a virtual scrapbook.
Some of the basic e-cards on the website are free and do not require an annual membership. Cards with music and animation start at $.99 for non-members; members can send them at no charge. A annual membership costs $9.99. They also offer Mobile Greetings, a service which allows you to create and send e-cards directly from some smart phones for $.99 each.
American Greetings has 36 different cards. Some of the e-cards can be personalized with your own photos or text or audio message. "Christmas Jukebox" allows you to add the recipient's name to the e-card's music.
Some of their cards are hilarious. One example includes a spoof of MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This,“ where a man sings “I Can’t Wrap This” while trying to package teddy bears, hula hoops and other hard-to-wrap gifts. The “I’m Too Festive” e-card is a spoof on Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” song.
The site has serious e-cards too, including the touching story that accompanies “God’s Little Messenger” and the e-card that features Jim Brickman’s version of the classic song “O Holy Night.”
Some cards can be shared on Facebook with just a click of a button.
American Greetings offers a two week free trial of their e-card service. After that, it costs $15.99, which allows you to send an unlimited number of cards for one year. Their subscription also covers cards sent and created on smartphones.
Stick with well-known, reputable websites when creating and sending e-cards. Some lesser known sites may transmit viruses when the recipient downloads e-cards.
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