Christmas Greetings in a Facebook World

With more than 2 billion active members, there’s a good chance that many of your friends and family are on Facebook. We’ve found it a delightful way to keep up with each other, share photos and organize events. I love the birthday celebrations with all the notes and cards posted there.

This year, I plan to send most of my Christmas cards via Facebook. I’ve already got friends and family organized into Facebook lists so my mailing list is all set. If time and energy allow, I may even create different cards for different lists.

Christmas card
Simple Christmas card made with Lifecards

Speaking of cards, several of the eCard companies (I’m a Hallmark subscriber) are set up to send their cards to Facebook. Hallmark offers both sending to a specific individual as a private message and posting as an update for all to see. Hallmark offers choices. You can build and send a card from their online platform or install the free eCard app to your iOS device. They offer monthly and annual subscriptions with no limit to the number of cards you send.

The Lifecards app ($2.99) for iOS devices makes it easy to create cards, postcards and even newsletters and send them via email or share them with friends and family on Facebook. While Lifecards does have several Christmas templates, Christmas Lifecards ($.99) has a larger collection. With both apps, you can use your own photos to make your cards unique. The latest versions of Print Shop Deluxe ($35.00 at Amazon) and PrintLife 4 ($50.00 in Mac store) also include sharing your card creations to Facebook and other social networks.

I’ve been sending digital Christmas cards for several years now and with most of my family now on Facebook, I’m using it as my delivery platform. Going this route gives me a lot more flexibility regarding what I can do with my “card”. With normal email delivery, I’m limited to a graphic image inside the message or providing a link to some kind of video sharing service, but with Facebook I can create a video greeting and it’s right there in Facebook for all (or some) to see.

Thanks to Facebook lists, I can target different greetings to different people. The card I send to family members can be different than the one I send my friends.

Creating a list is easy. Go to your Friends List screen. You’ll find it in the left sidebar under Explore. It displays every list you have created. Tap/click the Create List button at the top of the panel. The Create New List pane appears. Give your list a name – something easy to remember like “Christmas” – and start selecting people you want to add to this list. Click the Create List button and you’re done. Once a list has been created, you’ll see it listed under Friends Lists in the left sidebar. You can return to it at any time and add/remove people. You’ll also notice a little drop-down arrow on new friend requests where you can assign that person to a list when you accept their request.

That’s all there is to building and managing lists, now let’s put them to work.

If you are doing this for the first time, you should try some experimenting first to see how your app manages sharing. With Lifecards, I click the Share icon and choose Facebook. The default option is to post it on my Facebook profile, but clicking the > icon at the right side of the “address” line opens a screen displaying my lists. I just chose the list or lists I want, then click Done.

Holiday Planning: Custom Cards

I am a big fan of ecards – both the commercial ones and ones I make myself. I love the fun and quirky Just Wink cards from American Greetings. I have the app on my iPhone (also available for Android, Kindle tablets, NOOK tablets and Windows Phones) and it’s an easy way to send a card that can be opened and read right in the email message, Facebook update or text message. You can even mail it as a “real” card if you want.

Quirky is fun for many situations, but Christmas isn’t one of them. I prefer something more traditional and family oriented. And, although the list keeps getting smaller, there are still a number of people on my list who only get paper cards. As a result, I have a growing collection of leftover Christmas cards taking up space in the office cupboards. Fortunately, there are now a number of very nice – and affordable – options which give me the choice of sending both digital and paper cards that can include both photos and personal notes. And, they even offer features that make the chore of getting holiday cards done a bit easier.

iPhoto Cards

My favorite “snail-mail” card service is Apple’s beautiful letterpress cards. Found in the desktop iPhoto ’11 app, you can create either post cards or folded cards from your choice of design and layout options. The folded cards have layout options that support multiple photos and some even have plenty of room to include a lengthy personal note.

American Greetings also has a build and mail service where you can build your own cards and they will send them for you. No special app is needed, just your web browser.

Hallmark provides a huge variety of holiday ecards – all a part of their very affordable ecard subscription service. They also do beautiful photo cards and offer a service where you build your card with the photo and greeting you want and Hallmark will print, address and mail your card to everyone on your list.

The Lifecards app [iOS – $1.99] offers both postcard and newsletter style greetings as ecards. There are designs and layouts for all kinds of situations and occasions. One of the things I really like about this app is the ability to email as well as save it as a PDF file.

Want to create something totally original? Get out your presentation software – Keynote, PowerPoint or Impress – and take advantage of all the “actions” available. This article from Valentine’s Day will remind you how easy they are to build.