The holiday season seems to start earlier every year, doesn't it? Once again, it's time for you and your family to send out the annual greeting cards. And if you or the kids are planning a holiday party, you'll need to add invitations to your to-do list. But this year, don't buy cards in bulk. Instead, try one of these mobile apps for fun and easy card-making--and send them electronically, or have them turned into paper cards that are delivered via the mail.
Why? These apps offer a wider selection than you'll find in any card shop. With some apps, you can customize the cards with personalized greetings and photos. Some cards are free, and in some cases, you get multiple delivery options, which include email, social media, text, and regular mail.
Here are five free apps to help you and your family make your own greeting cards and invitations. And they all can help your family celebrate occasions throughout the year--not just the December holidays.
Creatacard Card Maker
Remember making your own cards with construction paper and glitter back in the day? Well, now you and your children can do much the same, but without the same mess--and without repeated drives to the store for more art supplies, either.
Creatacard, one of several mobile apps from American Greetings, offers digital versions of tools like paints, markers, pencils and stickers.
If you don't want to create a card from scratch, Creatacard also offers pre-designed cards, which you can add pictures and greetings to personalize.
Originally available only for the iPad, Creatacard now works on Android tablets as well.
Like all of the other apps on this list, CreateACard is free, with in-app purchases
available. For Creatacard, a holiday sticker pack costs $1.99, for instance.
On the down side, you can't print out a Createacard Card Maker creation. American Greetings will print and mail your creations (through another in-app purchase).
Punchbowl is an all-in-one app for party invitations. Not only can you create custom invitations, but you can keep track of RSVPs and send out more invites on-the-fly.
Unlike Creatacard, which sends printed cards in the mail, the focus here is on online cards. They're based on original art work created with paint, chalk, collage, pen, pencil, calligraphy, and other artistic techniques.
Many designs feature characters that children will love, such as Elmo, Hello Kitty, and the Star Wars gang.
You can also get some great ideas for party themes just by browsing through the invitation templates. (Will it be a Disney-inspired party for the little ones? A dress-to-the-9s "Holiday Ball" for parents' night out? A "gingerbread house decorating' event for the whole family?)
Through in-app purchases, you can unlock additional card designs, or accomplish feats like taking polls and putting together potluck feasts. The app is available for Android, iOS and the web.
Although the focus here is decidedly on invitations, you can find some beautiful greeting card designs, too.
Red Stamp Cards
Red Stamp lets you choose and personalize greeting cards, invitations, thank you notes, and announcements alike. You can send cards through e-mail or text message, or post them to Facebook or Twitter.
Alternatively, you can get them printed by Red Stamp. The company will then mail them directly to you, or to the recipients on your list.
Red Stamp's selection of free cards is ample, and you can expand on these through in-app purchases. The app is available both on the web and as a download for Android or iOS.
All together, Red Stamp offers over 2,000 card designs. Cards can be personalized with a choice of color schemes. You can also add photos either by grabbing pics from your camera roll or taking new photos in-app.
Mailing costs for a single card start at $1.99 for domestic mail and $2.99 for
international mail. However, mailing costs per card diminish in relation to how many you order.
Do you want to feature your family as a holiday card centerpiece? Touchnote
is ideal. You can send a photo as either a postcard or a greeting card. Touchnote will take care of both the printing and the mailing for you, for a price.
Postcards are printed on to thick six- by- four-inch stock. Greeting cards and matching envelopes are printed on heavy seven-by-five-inch stock. All cards are coated with a gloss laminate.
You can even get your picture turned into a gift, if you like. Choose between a six-by- four-inch photo in an Italian wood frame or a 9-by-12-inch or 12-by-16-inch canvas that can be hung on a wall. Touchnote is available for Android, iOS and the web.
Another mobile app from American Greetings, justWink offers a huge range of cards for the holidays and other occasions for delivery by email, Facebook, SMS, or MMS.
In most cases, you can also order printouts of the cards to be made and sent by American Greetings over "real mail." (The real mail options is available through the iOS and web versions, but not all versions of Android.)
Customize your cards with photos and messages as well as by adding your handwritten signature.
If you're interested in e-invitations, or in additional e-card options such as musical or animated cards, you can also hop on over to the subscription-based American Greetings. Free one-week trials are available, though the full American Greetings site doesn't have an equivalent app on either Android or iOS.