The Lost Art of Sending Cards: Ecards Vs. Paper Cards

Updated on July 12, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.


The Lost Art of Sending Cards

It is times like the holidays when people think of sending cards to family far and near to let them know they are thought of, missed, and remembered. The problem is that cards and sending cards, especially with a personal message, has become a lost art. Like writing and mailing letters, snail mail, shopping for cards, buying the perfect card, adding personal notes, and mailing it has become too much trouble. Now we have the option of ecards. They are fast, convenient, and don’t take more than a few minutes to find and send. And most are free. Some even allow for a personal note attached. What could be better?

“Every time I paint, I throw myself into the water in order to learn how to swim.”

— --Edouard Manet

The Way We Used to Do It

As a preteen, I remember sitting around the dining room table with my mother and dozens of new pristine holiday cards ready to be made out and signed by all of us. My mother had an ongoing list she kept every year of all the family and friends she sent cards to, as well as, all those who sent cards to her. It was a reciprocal thing. If she didn’t get a card back from a distant relative too many years in a row, she stopped sending them a card. Sad. It seemed like demoting the family member somehow.

Ecards vs Paper Cards

Which do you think is best? Ecards or Paper Cards

See results

My Experience

When I started my own family, I tried my mother’s method of record keeping but soon lost momentum. It was too hard to keep track during the busyness of the season to check off who did and didn’t reciprocate a card. Later finances became tight enough that I had to cut down the number I sent out, whether they sent me a card or not. Now I send cards to close family and close friends, but only handmade cards. Somehow they seem more personal and worth the effort. However, I still love seeing actual mail in my mailbox as opposed to junk mail and circulars. Real cards still give me a thrill, I’m not sure why.

“I can always paint very well with my eyes, but with my hands it doesn’t always work out.”

— --Kathe Kollwitz

Happy Birthday

Cards Recycled

Click thumbnail to view full-size
I love making cards from old cards.Add jewels and rainbow tape.Use photos and print from the computer.Use old photos (copies) and jewels with colored paper.Use tags and ribbon.Cut and paste parts.
I love making cards from old cards.
I love making cards from old cards. | Source
Add jewels and rainbow tape.
Add jewels and rainbow tape. | Source
Use photos and print from the computer.
Use photos and print from the computer. | Source
Use old photos (copies) and jewels with colored paper.
Use old photos (copies) and jewels with colored paper. | Source
Use tags and ribbon.
Use tags and ribbon. | Source
Cut and paste parts.
Cut and paste parts. | Source

Ecards vs physical cards

Here is a pro-con list of the benefits of each to help gauge which is best. Do have points to add to my list? Leave them in the comments below.

“To draw, you must close your eyes and sing.”

— --Pablo Picasso

Your Own Pop-Up Card

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Size the paper.Cut slots.Fold slots up.Fold the slots inward.Cut stems from green art foam.Cut colored flowers.Glue stems and flowers onto slots.Add a message.
Size the paper.
Size the paper. | Source
Cut slots.
Cut slots. | Source
Fold slots up.
Fold slots up. | Source
Fold the slots inward.
Fold the slots inward. | Source
Cut stems from green art foam.
Cut stems from green art foam. | Source
Cut colored flowers.
Cut colored flowers. | Source
Glue stems and flowers onto slots.
Glue stems and flowers onto slots. | Source
Add a message.
Add a message. | Source

Physical Cards

Pro card
Con card
Part of our traditional holiday decoration was the posting and enjoying of cards from family and friends throughout the holidays.
They mostly just get thrown out after the holidays, so why bother.
Both store bought and handmade cards allowed for a possibility of recycling and reusing the photos for next year.
Just one more expense at holiday time.
Sometimes the holiday card is the only time the effort is made to connect with distant friends and family.
Snail mail isn’t cheap anymore.
The physical card has a feeling of having taken time and effort of the sender and therefore means a little more.
Time consuming, especially if you have a large family to send cards to.
There is something nice about holding a physical card with actual handwriting on it to feel the heart of your family or friend who sent it.
Hard to remember everyone.
You can always add a gift to a physical card, like money or a gift card.
Some people don’t like decorating with cards. They seem like clutter.
Kills trees. What a waste.

“So I said to myself—I’ll paint what I see—what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it—I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”

— --Georgia O’Keeffe

Ecard list

Pro ecard
Con ecard
Fast and efficient. Minimum effort needed.
Often no extra thought is needed to send one.
No cost usually.
Perfect for people who forgot a birthday or family member at holiday time.
Some even allow for personal messages to be added.
Seems a little cold and impersonal. Probably should be followed up with a personal phone call to touch base.
Some are animated with little cartoons and music as an extra added creative element.
Not everyone on your list has a computer or Internet access.
They make you smile.
Perfect for people who forgot a birthday or family member at holiday time.
Saves paper and therefore, trees.

Hanging Cards at Christmas

It's always a joy to see cards hanging during the holidays.  What would we do without that?
It's always a joy to see cards hanging during the holidays. What would we do without that? | Source

This Year

I received two ecards already this holiday season. One was from a business thanking me for my continued brand loyalty. An ecard from a business seems very logical. It took minimum effort and I didn’t find it obtrusive or offensive. It is okay to seem a little cold and distant coming from a business than from an individual family member. The second ecard was from a sister. This one would seem a little cold except that this sister calls and talks to me every week. We have a very close relationship and the ecard was simply an extra over-the-top wish for my blessing during the holiday season. There obviously is a time and place when an ecard is appropriate and even welcome.

The Era of Paper Cards Is Waning

Before the season is over I expect to receive several more ecards and dozens of physical cards. I know in my heart the era of the physical card is waning and I for one will be sorry to see them go. I have fond memories of getting special cards in the mail with notes for well-wishes from my distant grandparents and extended family living hundreds of miles away. That will be something that our children and grandchildren will miss out on unless we personally take up the mantle and pass on the tradition.

“Simplicity is not a goal, but one arrives at simplicity in spite of oneself, as one approaches the real meaning of things.”

— --Constantin Brancusi

Happy New Year

Pros and Cons

After adding up my pro and con list, it seems the real cards and ecards got about the same number of pros and cons, which means to me that the jury is still out. I must say I still love getting a real card in the mail, but the convenience of ecards can’t be beat. Before long ecards will be the norm and paper cards will be a thing of the past. Somehow I think that will be a real loss.

“A primitive artist is an amateur whose work sells.”

— --Grandma Moses (Anna Mary Moses)

Questions & Answers

    Comments Welcomed!

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment
      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        2 years ago from Fresno CA

        Raymond Hopkins,

        That is good news indeed. I'm glad to hear it. I'm definitely going to check out your site. Thanks so much for commenting.



      • profile image

        Raymond Hopkins 

        2 years ago

        I hope this finds you well and while yes there are studies showing people are declining in sending cards, what it also shows is that the cards people are sending are more personal and people will tend to send handmade cards vs. commercial.

        My wife and I had found people not only loved the card she made but were asking her to make them for her. I also find the younger generation of millennials and Gen X value sending cards, but would rather send a card for occasions and not the bulk holiday cards. They like something that is crafted and the recipient will feel as though the card was sent with them specifically in mind.

        I invite you to check out our small company, as we find people love the ideas of handmade original cards to send family friends and business contacts.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 years ago from Fresno CA

        Dinuka Perera,

        It is world-wide then? That is sad news that families and friends are closer through social media and yet farther apart from real letters and notes. I also find that my family would rather text me than pick up the phone and actually TALK to me. We have moved farther apart. Thanks for commenting.



      • profile image

        Dinuka Perera 

        4 years ago


        It is Sri Lanka, we had the same tradition of hand made cards or card to send on courrier mail every new years or Christmas or religious ceremony.

        it is not there any more.

        Happy that the trees are saved.

        Sad that I feel like loved ones and friends are moving away from each other.

        Hugs to u all.

        thanks for the author.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        I like holding something in my hand too. I think real cards will always be my favorite.

      • MariaMontgomery profile image


        5 years ago from Central Florida, USA

        I enjoy the e-cards I receive, but I especially enjoy getting real mail. It's nice to have something to hold in my hand and re-read later. I use e-mail consistently, but I especially love getting letters.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Thanks for visiting.

      • Homeplace Series profile image

        William Leverne Smith 

        5 years ago from Hollister, MO

        Good information. Thanks for sharing!! ;-)

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Thank you so much for visiting and liking my idea.

      • LadyFiddler profile image

        Joanna Chandler 

        5 years ago from On Planet Earth

        Excellent Job of re-making cards from old cards .

        Splendid idea :)

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Billybuc, apparently you know a lot! :) Lots of people still resist the ecards right now. I think when this generation passes the newer ones will phase out paper altogether; but I'm not sure I'm a fortune teller, I'm just reading the signs.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        J-R-Fr13m9n, I absolutely agree. I have a hub on recycling cards as well and I love using old cards to give new greetings to people. Why waste them and throw them away, contributing the land fills? Thanks for visiting.

      • J - R - Fr13m9n profile image

        Jane Ramona Rynkiewicz Frieman 

        5 years ago from Morris County, New Jersey

        I am like you when it comes to receiving a card via snail mail. I have friends who give me cards they do not need. These friends of mine had received these cards free from different charitable organizations. These cards can be redecorated to resemble all the different holidays. Saving old cards that were mailed to me has provided me with extra pictures and text. I have not purchased a card in years. Decorating the envelopes is creative activity also. Friends also give me calendars and used magazines. These can be used for their pictures as well as text. Keep in mind recyclable paper items such as magazines and calendars can be useful for us crafters.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        5 years ago from Olympia, WA

        Honestly, I won't send an ecard....I'm just a bit too old-fashioned to do that, and I think real cards are so much more personal...but what do I know? :)

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Ruthi, I so understand. I always thought that too. But I am beginning to embrace ebooks. Oh well, all things seem to be changing.

      • profile image

        Ruth Cox 

        5 years ago

        I prefer to send and receive paper cards over ecards. And I love postcards too! And printed books instead of ebooks, ha! I guess I'm old school and always shall be.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Thanks for responding, Marsha.

      • profile image

        Marsha Cooper 

        5 years ago

        I will always prefer a paper card over an ecard.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        AliciaC, I agree. When I get a handmade card, I don't discard it like any regular card. I usually use elements from it in my scrapbooks. Not the whole card usually because that would take up too much space. That way the card lives on for a long time.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Thanks for an interesting and thought provoking hub. I do send relatives Jacquie Lawson e-cards, and I receive them as well. I love these cards, but I think that handmade cards are even better. E-cards are enjoyable and entertaining, but the thought that someone has put time and effort into creating a special handmade card for me is very touching.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Catherine, thanks so much for the info.

      • CatherineGiordano profile image

        Catherine Giordano 

        5 years ago from Orlando Florida

        Any office supply store will have them, like Staples or Home Depot. Look in the aisle where they have paper supplies for computers. It should be near where they sell reams of copy paper.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Great information. Thanks. What is the brand name of the blank cards? Do you get them at a paper store?

      • CatherineGiordano profile image

        Catherine Giordano 

        5 years ago from Orlando Florida

        I buy special blank cards with matching envelopes for the cards I make on the computer. The front of the card has the glossy surface for photos and the cards have the fold marks so they will fold perfectly.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        CatherineGiordano, I forgot to mention the computer cards. I know several people who bought special card-making programs for their computer so they could create their own personal cards with personal messages. Thanks.

      • CatherineGiordano profile image

        Catherine Giordano 

        5 years ago from Orlando Florida

        I do ecards and paper cards. There is a website, jacquielawson, that does wonderful animated cards with music. I subscribe for $12 a year and I can send the perfect card with a personal message whenever I need to. It is a wonderful way to say "get well" or "thank you." Paper cards will just be thrown out. Also paper cards have gotten really expensive. If I want a paper card, I make it on my computer. That makes it very personal.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        5 years ago from Fresno CA

        Happy New Year all. I really appreciate all the positive response. This is a subject I am passionate about too. As an artist, I hope paper cards are not on the way out. They are so cool, creative, colorful and personal. I for one, will keep making and sending them till I am on the way out.

      • Julia Eppehimer profile image

        Julia Rexford 

        5 years ago

        I always love getting real cards in the mail! I always feel guilty when I throw them away, too, haha. But I still think real cards are totally worth it. It makes people feel special.

      • oceansnsunsets profile image


        5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

        Hi Denise, this is an excellent hub on the idea of sending paper and ecards to people. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a topic I am passionate about, for all the reasons you mention. Life gets so busy, we get carried away with all the things we have to do. I do think however, that this is part of what makes sending and receiving a card of any kind, all the more special! The very fact that so little people do it means they really do care.

        I support stores like Hallmark cards and love their newer and growing .99 cent line of various cards, as well as card packs. This makes sending cards more affordable again, in my opinion. I also pay the 9.99 a year, to have unlimited ecards I can send through Hallmark cards, but find I actually use that less. I am more old school with the paper cards, as well as making them! I love a handmade card and love the examples you shared, how wonderful! Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year.

      • Cyndi10 profile image

        Cynthia B Turner 

        5 years ago from Georgia

        This was such fun to read because I love searching for what I consider the right card. The receiver is usually thrilled to get it. I like your suggestions of reusing old cards. I am such a sentimentalist I find it hard to throw cards away. With your suggestion I can find new uses for them. Ecards are nice, but I prefer the paper version. Like you, I hope sending paper cards this will never be lost, just as I hope real books will not be lost.

        Thanks for the information. Sharing.

      • Kathleen Cochran profile image

        Kathleen Cochran 

        5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

        When the Internet was new (back when the earth was cooling) the Christmas season saw an abundance of cyber greetings instead of cards in the mail. It was easy. But Christmas was not the same. Most of my friends and family have reverted back to cards you could display, but they were better than those in the past. These included, first a single picture of the family, and now many pictures representing the activities and additions throughout the year. This advance was due primarily to digital photography and cards ordered through the Internet. So even the "old Fashioned way" has benefited from technology. Sharing.

      • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

        Barbara Purvis Hunter 

        5 years ago from Florida


        That is a great idea and a good project for children. A personal touch is always appreciated.

        I always sent Christmas card until this year I did not have the time due to family sickness. However, I would love to try making mine this coming Christmas, and for birthdays.

        You are so talented.

        I will share this with Twitter and re-pin on my board.

        Bobbi Purvis


      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

      Show Details
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)