Thursday, December 24

Merr E-Christmas

I dedicate tonight's gift idea to procrastinators. As much as I empathize, we are down to the wire. We haven’t the time to ship a summer sausage or mail a card. Stores will close in a few hours—if they haven’t already—eliminating the possibility of personally delivering a gift. But do not fear. We have the tools to keep the cloaked, fat man's horns under his Santa hat this year.

Until recently, sending identical greeting cards to the 20 or 30 individuals on our list was considered proper Christmas etiquette. The task was tedious. Fortunately, the “green” movement, greater procrastination, fewer days until Christmas, and the “digitize me” generation sabotaged tradition. The electronic greeting card became a worthy adversary. Like their paper ancestors, e-cards address all types of sentiments: Thank You, Miss You, Happy Anniversary or Birthday, Congratulations, Deepest Sympathy, Get Well, and, of course, Happy Holidays.

Having sent or received a lame e-card may require you to reboot your perspective. They’ve come a long way. The Web sites below offer e-cards that broaden the envelope set by the first stream.

Check out this pop-up card, complete with audio, on Smilebox. You can embed photos of the family, too.

Blue Mountain livens up their e-cards with animation. Choose from a variety of holiday sub-categories.

Looking for something more interactive? Grab a free computer game on Funmunch. Help Santa and his hung-over reindeer make up for lost time in Late Santa; or turn Santa into a Mario Brothers type character and battle frozen tundra in Xmas Grandpa.

Even though we are t-minus three hours 'til Christmas, the timeliness of an e-card, unlike its paper predecessor, is graded on "send" time—not arrival date.

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