While I feel for our letter carriers at this time of year, I love receiving holiday cards through the mail. The greetings range from low-quality photo-cards with brief seasonal messages to high-production-value personal folded cards.
Although it may be too much work to make your cards from scratch, it's a snap to create and then order some through online services, which offer easy-to-use design and layout tools. Whether you are looking for classic or crafty, paper or digital, a wide range of services are ready to meet your holiday-greeting needs.
Snapfish (iOS, Android) has been offering Web-based photo-sharing and -printing services for more than 15 years, and it has a wide selection of seasonal choices, from cards to calendars. Upload photos from your phone or your Instagram or Facebook account, then pick from dozens of attractive designs on Snapfish's website to create your card.
Ink (iOS, Android) also handles everything from helping you create your card to addressing and mailing them. It's easy to share addresses from your phone contacts with Ink. (Ink is part of the company that offers the Postagram postcard-mailing service: Upload a digital image to Postagram, create a brief message, and send vacation postcards to family and friends.)
Tiny Prints (iOS) cards offer a modern look and lots of options for card border and size, back-of-card design, and even envelope liners. The service isn't cheap, but the cards look rich. You handle everything through the Tiny Prints iPad app.
Hallmark (iOS) lets you skip the paper route, instead helping you create and email animated greeting cards. With a subscription, you can send unlimited cards and schedule e-card delivery throughout the year. The cards most likely will not be ones you'll want to frame, but if you're looking for a Peanuts-themed card or you're too late for the post office deadline, this is a good way to go.
For OS X users, Photos (and before that, iPhoto) is a great way to create holiday cards. You can also order calendars, photos books, and prints. The card templates offer a text area that can hold 150 to 200 words' worth of holiday wishes. (For several years, Apple offered an iOS app called Cards that allowed you to creates paper cards using several dozen template designs, but Apple discounted the app in 2013.)
Minted, an online collective of independent artists and designers, has a great selection of attractive cards, ranging from modern, simple designs with photos to beautiful illustrations.
Check out Paper Culture if you are worried about your carbon footprint. The company plants a tree with every order and promises to use only eco-friendly products, including 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper in its cards and envelopes. The company will also stamp, address, and mail your cards for you. And the card designs are nice, too.