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eCards. If you’ve used email for any length of time, you’ve surely seen at least a handful of eCards, ranging from static image cards to an animated Flash card with a short message from your loved one at the end. Paper cards and postage have gotten so expensive, and most eCards are free, so it seemed like the perfect swap. Except for the fact, of course, that the sites were often cluttered and filled with ads. We’ve rounded up some of the best sites to send free eCards, but 2 years later, eCards honestly feel a bit stale.

Then, social networking came along. Facebook automatically reminds us of birthdays, and Facebook events let us know when other special events are coming up. Now, instead of remembering to send an email, we can just post a quick message right to friends’ Facebook walls without even leaving the front page of Facebook. And hey, you can read Facebook messages on your phone, but most Flash cards wouldn’t work on a smartphone or tablet.

Something seems just a bit impersonal about these digital cards and messages. Perhaps it’s because they’re pre-made, or that Facebook automatically reminds you about events so it doesn’t even take thought. Or maybe it’s that giving something digital still doesn’t seem quite right. But many people still prefer to get a paper card or letter, or at least a personal email that took some time and thought. And, paper cards are back in vogue even for app fanatics, as Apple released a new cards app for iOS that lets you send paper cards from your smartphone.

Today’s Valentine’s day, and many people around the world will be sending sweet txt messages, Facebook posts, emails, and eCards to their sweethearts. So I was wondering: will you be sending eCards, today or for other special events this year? A premade Flash eCard, or a more personal email that takes a bit more thought?

It’s the thought that counts … but you just might want to make sure you put enough thought into it!

It’s the season of giving, the time when you have to rack your brain to figure out what to buy your Mom that she’d actually like, while trying to simultaneously figure out how you’re going to cram in that one extra Christmas party in your already packed schedule. It may be the season to be jolly, but looking at people’s faces in lines and parking lots, you wouldn’t know it. And that’s sad. We get so distracted by the preparations for holidays that we forget the very meaning behind the special days we celebrate.

This year, more than ever, some of the best things you could think of to buy your family and friends are virtual. Whether you want to give a copy of Cars 2 to your nephew or copy of Steve Job’s biography to your coworker, often the digital copy is the best way to go. If I made a wish list, it’d have more digital items than physical items. Even a new Dropbox or Evernote Pro subscription would make an idea gift for many people on your list.

Only thing is, it seems somewhat odd to give a virtual gift. There’s something about giving a big wrapped box with a bow, the anticipation of ripping off paper, and the surprised delight with the actual gift that digital items just don’t have. It simply isn’t as exciting to pull an iTunes gift card out of a stocking or open an email telling you that you’ve been gifted a book or web app subscription, even if it is just as useful and fun.

I’ve personally given a number of digital gifts, and am sure I’ll continue to do so in the future, but I feel odd giving them without a little something extra, perhaps a candy or some other trinket. So how about you? Do you give digital items, or are boxes still essential to your Christmas? Perhaps Dropbox should start selling gift subscriptions in real blue boxes…

I have a confession to make. I’m 26 years old and I still give my parents a Christmas list. I mean, don’t get me wrong; I don’t volunteer the information. They usually have to ask me several times for it over the course of a month before I give it up.

The last couple of years, I’ve looked for good ways to keep my list online so I could just send it to my parents via email. This makes my life easier since I have links to stuff I’d buy for myself, and their lives easier because they don’t have to go hunting places for the stuff they decided to get me (my parents are awesome, by the way). In this round up, I’m going to tell you some of the list web apps that I’ve tried.


No matter where you live on Planet Earth, odds are you’ll have a holiday (or 3) before the end of the year. In America, the Christmas season seems to get longer each year, while on the other side of the planet in Thailand, my town of Tak has a week long festival celebrating the 18th century King Taksin right around New Years. And if November and December’s holidays aren’t enough, Chinese New Years is only a few weeks later.

This week, though, it’s Thanksgiving time for Americans (even Americans in Thailand), a time to remember the things we’re thankful for with the ones we’re most thankful for. Sure, there’s the usual festivities and food, but for web-addicted people, it can be a trying time away from your computer. Most of us spend too much time in front of screens already, but it can be tempting to pull out your smartphone under the table and check Tweets instead of eating turkey.

What’s the point of get-togethers, anyhow, if you’re going to stay online? So, that’s why we’re curious: how do you deal with internet on holidays? Do you try to stay offline and make more time for family? Or do you end up posting more pictures of the celebrations on Facebook and Instagram than ever before?

And by the way, here’s an early Happy Thanksgiving (for our American readers), Merry Christmas, and Happy New Years from the Web.AppStorm team!

Christmas Lights photo via lavandarfields on Flickr