Happy Holidays from the Subway Platform!

Sending out holiday cards used to be a major ordeal — that is, when I could be bothered to do it at all.

First, there was an hour in the stores poring over cards, certain that if I just find the right design, I would be able to convey how incredibly fun, thoughtful and worldly I had become over the past 12 months.

Then there was the trip to the post office to purchase 50 festive, secular postage stamps. Of course, I couldn’t remember where I had saved everyone’s mailing addresses from last year, which resulted in a flurry of frantic emails: “This email is not to wish you a happy holiday season, it is merely to request your snail mail address so that I can wish you a happy holiday season, in print, at a later date.”

Then came the most time intensive part of the process — signing, stamping, sealing and addressing all of the cards — which was either accomplished by schlepping everything in to the office to run a mail merge, or in long hand, sitting in someone’s apartment in Greenpoint while watching The Muppet Christmas Carol, depending on the year.

Now that I’m a smartphone user, I designed my holiday cards while sitting in a conference room, waiting for a Ketchum brainstorm to start.  The cards were sent that night, directly from my device, while waiting for the subway. I think the whole process took about 15 minutes, and that included tracking down a few stray addresses.

There is no shortage of greeting card and holiday card apps for your smartphone; it would be impossible to provide a thorough list.  Here are two that I’ve used with great results:

  • Sincerely Ink – Holiday cards only, sent exclusively through the mail for about $1.99.  Credits can be purchased through PayPal and also work for Sincerely’s many partner sites, including Postagram and PopBooth.
  • Red Stamp – A wide selection of greeting cards, including holiday cards. In addition to sending print cards through the mail, you can also send your custom designs via email or text message, or post them to your social media channels.

If you have kids at home, they may enjoy helping to design a card, featuring some of their favorite characters, like Dr. Seuss’s the Grinch.  If you don’t have a family, you can borrow one for card-sending purposes with the InstaFamily app. The Build-a-Card app lets you pull photos directly from your Facebook albums and sprinkle in a few reindeer noses and Santa hats.

I don’t consider myself to be a person who is wantonly impressed with every digital fad, and I love to receive a heartfelt, handwritten greeting, but if a trip to the post office and a stamp moistener just isn’t in the cards for you this year, consider sending your holiday greetings from your back pocket, while waiting in line for a peppermint mocha this year.

Nancy leads the Social Media Group at Ketchum’s New York office, where she counsels a wide variety of companies on how to engage with consumers online and become a part of the conversation. Working with brands like Kodak, Frito-Lay, ConAgra Foods, H&R Block and IKEA, she has developed strategic influencer programs, local events, Twitter and Facebook content sourcing, and event sponsorships. She often works with companies to develop their internal social media guidelines.