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02. 12. 2009

How to be someone's Valentine--at the last minute and for free


Here I am, empty-handed as Valentine's Day looms. I have once again bought no cards. And I don't have time to get to a store and stand for half an hour or more in front of hundreds of possibilities, reading card after stupid card in hopes of finding perfection--or even just a sentiment that's marginally acceptable. And not finding it.

And if I do, spending close to 5 bucks per each. And then get the stamps, not so cheap these days either. And address and mail them. Knowing that even if I buy and snailmail them today, they probably won't reach recipients by Saturday anyway.

Thank heavens that, pretty much from its earliest days, the Web has catered to us cheapskate sluggards who can't quite get it together but would still like to shower affection on the people we love, or even just like. Ideally at the last minute. For free, or close to it.

And in the last few years, e-cards come with a huge bonus mostly not to be had with dead-tree cards conveyed by pony express: they are often animated and wired for sound. They jump and dance and sing. Sometimes they use clips from movies and TV shows. Most important, they are even more likely to coax an affectionate smile from the recipient.

The best part: E-cards are quite often free, and even the paid ones can be had for the same price as a song from iTunes. Venerable Hallmark cards has adopted this model, 99 cents per card, with a few free ones mixed in. Others, like Blue Mountain and American Greetings offer an annual paid plan with a free trial month. American Greetings has a few freebies too.

My sister likes to send the free e-cards (with assorted animals, of course) from the World Wildlife Fund. For years my favorites have come from a small collection of flowery e-cards at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But they seem to have vanished from the site. Please bring them back, BBG!

While I wait and hope, this year I'll be looking for another e-card supplier from this very long list at the Open Directory Project.

Posted by Tam    Category:
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