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Five ways to create and send holiday photo cards

Lauren Crabbe | Nov. 21, 2011
The holidays are fast approaching and so is the pressure to send out your annual greeting cards to update family and friends about your fabulous life and beautiful children. We looked at five of the best, most user-friendly options that make it easy to design and send photo cards. Starting with the Apple programs you already have on your Mac or iOS device, and ending with sites you may not be familiar with, here's a walk through a veritable winter wonderland of photo card-making options.

Another frustrating thing with Cards is the firm layouts. Unlike iPhoto or even the most basic website services, you cannot alter the layouts of the cards. If you have a photo that has people on the right side of the frame and you want to use the same holiday card theme in our example, you’re out of luck. You may like that snowflake design, but it can’t be moved off of poor Johnny’s face. Once you’ve finished your holiday greeting masterpiece, you can send it to one recipient at a time. After you send the card, the app asks if you’d like to send your card to another recipient. Cards offers no bulk sending discounts, though, so you may not want to use it as your main card-creating and sending method. For more information on Cards, read our full review.

Pros: Convenient for sending a few thoughtful and well-made cards to select people, since Apple will ship directly to recipients.

Cons: Too expensive for your whole address book, and has a very limited library of themes and layouts that do not offer much customization.

Cost: $3 per card, including shipping (U.S.), $5 per card, including shipping (International)


If you already use Shutterfly for your photo printing needs, you don’t need us to tell you how wonderful it is for low-cost prints and quick delivery. For photo cards, Shutterfly has over 1000 holiday layout options ranging from the basic photo and pre-written holiday greeting to a Story card where you can write a few words about your many vacations, promotions, and animal adoptions in the past year. Once you’ve uploaded photos to your Shutterfly account, you can place them into the various layouts until they’re exactly what you want. From there, you can add text, choosing from dozens of fonts and colors.

The best part about Shutterfly’s service is its shipping options. You can send your photo cards directly to a list of recipients by importing addresses from your Mac’s Address Book, your iPhone, or an Excel spreadsheet. Any leftover cards can then be sent to your home address so you can give them out in person.

Pros: It’s incredibly easy to send batches of cards to different recipients, there are lots of themes, and you receive discounts when ordering in bulk

Cons: Not all theme layouts can be edited and you must have a Shutterfly account to use the service.

Cost: Cards, from $0.32 (not including shipping)

Pear Tree

Pear Tree has great options for unique and affordable holiday cards. Some choices are mind-blowingly chic for the price—my personal favorite is the Colorful String of Lights (pictured above), which come in the shape of Christmas lights and string together to display a holiday message. You can import your photos onto Pear Tree from your computer or from Facebook. From there, you can crop and add filters like Black and White, Vibrance, Sharpen, and Soft Focus to your photos. Though Pear Tree has a few more photo editing options than other card makers, it doesn’t have as many layout options per theme as Shutterfly or Tiny Prints (see below).


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