The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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December 6, 2012

5 ingredients for a smooth holiday

(Continued)

Streamline correspondence

The holidays are a time for traditions. But traditions are by their very nature old, and old things aren't always the most practical.

This was the logic behind Paperless Post, the thriving e-card company founded in 2009 by James Hirschfeld, 26, and his sister Alexa, 28. "Holidays remind people of their childhood, they want to do things the way they've done them since they were kids," James Hirschfeld says. "But our philosophy is about streamlining communication without compromising beauty or personality. We brought cards to a more efficient format."

The emotional arguments against e-cards are obvious: For many, they feel less personal, insensitive or even lazy. But younger generations who might not be as put off by electronic correspondence appreciate that e-cards are faster, customizable and significantly cheaper, Hirschfeld says. While upscale paper cards can cost about $6, Paperless Post offers electronic versions for pennies.

But paper lovers are in luck, too. Ink Cards, a mobile app run by the San Francisco company Sincerely, offers hundreds of card templates with space to insert messages and photos. After you've built the card to your liking, Ink prints and mails it for you. Minted, also based in the Bay Area, recruits graphic designers to submit art that can be made into greeting cards. This season, the company is offering a "triple thick" paper stock that feels like museum board, a great choice for the photography buffs on your list.

Even Paperless Post is going retro. It has collaborated with companies such as Kate Spade and John Derian and launched a line of paper cards that they will print and mail for you. Some of the options are delightfully old-school.

"You know those family cards with the corny photos? Well, we offer an e-version of those, too," Hirschfeld said. "For the real skeptics."

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