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To send or not to send? E-Cards, Gift Cards and Song Gifting

“Printed Christmas cards were the rage in England, then Germany, as early as 1800. But it required an additional thirty years for Americans to take to the idea. Then, in 1875, Boston lithographer Louis Prang, a native of Germany, began publishing cards, and earned the title ‘father of the American Christmas card’.” -

“When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best”. The famous slogan adopted in 1944 by Hallmark, and used to this day, was created by C.E. Goodman, a marketing and sales executive at Hallmark. The phrase is still synonymous with sending printed cards.

Today, those traditions are almost a thing of the past. There are so many alternatives to sending a card now— From gift cards to eCards and song gifting. Even the US Postal Service sells Gift Cards — probably as a measure to shore up the revenue lost by the rise of eCards. There are many ways to tell the ones you love that you are, well, at least, thinking of them.

Apple now has an app for the iPhone and iPod Touch call, simply, Cards. The app lets you create and mail personalized cards with your own text and photos — right from your iPhone/iPod Touch. Cards sent with the US are $2.99 (including postage) and $4.99 (including postage) sent internationally.

Apple also has a feature in iTunes that allows you to gift a song to someone for the price of the song. Just choose a song in the iTunes store, click the down arrow to the right of the price button and select “Gift This Song”. Once purchased, a link to the song in iTunes is sent the recipient by email to download.

Starbucks allows you to send eGift cards from their website in denominations of $5, $10, $15, $20 or more. The personalized eGift card can be sent by email or Facebook.

Then there is the ubiquitous gift card. It’s quick and convenient and almost every retailer, restaurant, and credit card company has one.

But are all these e-cards and gift cards telling your loved ones you really care enough to send the very best? According to Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money, the answer is no.

“A gift, ideally, says, “I thought about you. I considered your likes and dislikes, your needs and wants, your dreams and desires, and found you this token of my esteem that I hope delights you,” she says.

According Liz a gift card says nothing more than, “There! Checked you off my list.”'

She adds, “Think about it...Would your best and closest friend, the one you've known for years, who's stuck with you through the roller-coaster ride of life, walk into your hospital room and give you...a gift card?”

So, maybe gift card, e-card, or song gifting could be relegated to not so special occasions—just because. Maybe on some random day, you could send these gifts to someone just to let them know you are thinking about them. Then, reserve the traditional gift of gift giving for special occasions like Christmas, Birthday and “Get Well Soon.”

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