On your next birthday, we know that you’d appreciate more than a halfhearted Facebook note from all your friends. Pay that love forward by returning to the age of good old fashioned greeting cards. Ahem, e-cards.
You don’t need to spend money on expensive stationery or even physical cards, but we recommend that you try to stay away from those tacky animations of singing candles that simultaneously give us seizures and remind us of 1995.
Here are the best, stylish, 21st century online greetings, all much more economical (and eco-friendly) than their paper-and-envelope predecessors:
For the Elegant E-Card That Isn’t
There are few sensations akin to opening a beautiful envelope to reveal a nice, textured card inside. Paperless Post allows us to hold on to that sensation by sending cards online that can’t rightfully be called e-cards. These come in (electronic) envelopes and are such well-rounded cards that they have differentiated fronts, backs, and insides. Paperless Post cards even simulate the cardstock texture of store-bought greetings. They’re way cheaper than traditional cards, too. You can send your first 25 for free, and after that, you’ll buy packs of “stamps” (each card requires that you use one stamp); 20 stamps cost only $4.
For the Nicest Standard E-Cards
If you want your e-cards to feel like e-cards (read: sound effects and moving images), Hallmark is a staple. In the past year or two, however, it’s started to charge for most of its e-cards. We like it because its site layout is the easiest to navigate (and ad-free) and because more of its cards tend to be funny and stylish, rather than resorting to flashing lights and tacky songs. We recommend hunting through the selection for the freebies, or paying $1 to send a premium card. After all, it’s still a lot cheaper than an actual Hallmark card.
For the Comedian In You
For when you’re monkeying around—send a note via Monk-e-Mail. You can choose one of three different monkeys to read your message aloud to your recipient. For this virtual postcard, you can change the background scenery, the monkey’s clothes, props, headgear, and more. If you think this app is really bananas, you can even record your own voice to have it come out of the monkey’s mouth.
For the Snark in Your Life
Sometimes, the best cards come without flashing pictures or cheesy slide shows. They’re simple, understated, and, well, strike a chord. Someecards is one of our favorite sites for sending e-cards…as long as our recipients have a sense of humor. Next time your friend has a birthday, use these poignant words: “May you live twice as long as Michael Jackson and be half as creepy.”
For the YouTube Addict
123Greetings is a great resource for sending greetings to those people in your life who love to laugh at stupid stuff on the internet. Although 123Greetings has normal e-cards as well, we think that they’re unique for integrating virus YouTube videos into greeting cards. Admittedly, these greetings tend to look a bit less polished, but they’re all free—and does it matter when you’re watching a real, dancing iguana singing about your birthday?
For the Absurd Karaoke Star
Note: We might make fun of you if you do this with a straight face. MySpace Karaoke allows readers to sing along to provided songs and record themselves on a webcam as they do so… for all of us, and their loved ones, to gawk as they feel the love. No, that’s not the start of an Elton John song.