How do you send greetings these days?

The post office isn’t the only industry feeling the effects of social media’s popularity. This recent Wall Street Journal article discusses how the greeting card industry is also being impacted:

Once a staple of birthdays and holidays, paper greeting cards are fewer and farther between — now seen as something special, instead of something that’s required. The cultural shift is a worrisome challenge for the nation’s top card maker, Hallmark Cards Inc., which last week announced it will close a Kansas plant that made one-third of its greeting cards. In consolidating its Kansas operations, Kansas City-based Hallmark plans to shed 300 jobs.

These days, more people are wishing friends a happy birthday with messages on their Facebook walls or via text message. The Fresno Bee’s Mike Osegueda even wrote a column recently about the hierarchy of ways to send birthday greetings:

Nowadays, peoples’ social networks make birthdays all too easy. Facebook lists all of your friends who have birthdays in the top right corner every day. … So while I was trying to go to sleep the night of my birthday, I came up with what will now be the Official Hierarchy of Happy Birthdays. I suggest you consult it when trying to show someone how much you care about them on their birthday.

Personally, I know I’ve gotten out of the habit of hand-selecting and mailing greeting cards. And when I do send them, I find I’m using different options.

I like incorporating my photos into greeting cards, whether it’s a thank you note to someone who hosted us when we visited from out of town or mailing out our Christmas greetings. I’ve used Shutterfly.com and Winkflash.com to design and order cards that I plan to mail myself.

But things have gotten even easier.

Recently, I added an Apple app to my iPhone (it’s also compatible with iPads) — Cards — which allows me to create a personalized card from photos taken with my iPhone, write my text on the inside, pull in the recipient’s address from my phone’s contacts and send the creation on its way, through the U.S. Postal Service. Hallmark also now offers a similar app, according to the Wall Street Journal article.

This isn’t an e-card. It’s an actual piece of mail that shows up a few days later. You even get emails telling you when it’s shipped and when it shows up in a local mailbox for delivery.

The first one I did took me just a few minutes sitting in the comfort of my living room. And the cost was slightly less than the average card you’d buy at a store.

Some events — and the most important people in our life — still deserve more effort than just a message on a Facebook wall. But I like being in charge of how my own personalized cards turn out, instead of being limited to someone else’s creativity.

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