PAPERLESS POST: HEMNA reviews the Christmas e-cards you can personalise

Christmas draws ever closer with a mere weekend separating us from roasts and festive puddings, mulled wine and heartily sung carols. It is also prime card-giving season, with 668.9 million Christmas cards sold in the UK (2008) and an astonishing 1.9 billion cards sent in the United States over the festive period (2005).

If like a lot of people, you are pressed for time, the idea of buying several dozen packs of paper cards, envelopes and stamps and having to individually write out each one probably is a difficult thing to move up on your to-do list. You know you have to, but those end-of-year work reports will not get finished up by Santa’s elves, no matter how good a girl or boy you’ve been!

But fear not, you won’t be magically transformed into the greetings card Grinch of Yuletide 2018 if you decide to call upon the services of Paperless Post. Headquartered in New York, Paperless Post is a remarkable, fun and innovative site offering a wide choice of impeccably designed e-cards, invites and even animated flyers, with contemporary designs brimming with flair, festive vibes and colour.

 

In the run-up to Christmas, Paperless Post has launched a range of festive cards and invites to send to your loved ones for Christmas greetings, parties and New Year’s Day celebrations. In collaboration with Paperless Post, HEM News Agency will put one of their personalised Christmas cards on a review road test.

As part of their festive promotions, the online stationery firm is offering customers the chance to spread joy instantly with their online holiday cards that are simple to send and delightful to receive. You can adapt your card’s design, track its delivery to the recipient and upload photographs of your choice, perfect if you like to make themed family greetings cards or at least want something a bit more memorable than a generic glittery robin on the front.

Under the “Holiday, Christmas, and New Year cards” section on the Paperless Post site alone there are a whopping 851 designs alone to choose from, which is far more than you can find in all but the most specialised physical paper card stores. I decided to go with the square format ‘Yule Blooms Christmas’ design as it is festive and professional in appearance in equal measure.

Although the display card is offered in ‘tall’ format’, I found you can choose from six different formats, or ‘design variations’ so if you prefer a particular card size, that option is sorted for you. Choice is a good thing, we must embrace it! Enter your log-in details if you are already signed up at Paperless Post, or alternatively log in with your Facebook or Google account and you can begin customising right away.

 

Firstly you need to choose your ‘backdrop’, which is the background your card will be displayed on. There is one free option, or for the small fee of one ‘coin’ (Paperless Post’s online currency) you can choose from several more. I went for the ‘Pure White –  Holiday’ backdrop with its alluring white snow field and pine needles and holly berries scattered above the top. Très festive, no?. Very easy to do, and just one click is needed.

Hit the Next arrow and the next customisable option is the card’s text. This is where you can really make your card’s message speak from the heart. Here you can change the text size, alignment, typeface, colours and much more, and the sliders make it easier for the less typographically inclined. Using the ‘Colors’ option, which presents their colour options in handy little spots showing the exact hue, I was able to customise the text colours to match HEM News Agency’s blog branding. In the middle of the card is a blank space with patterning reminiscent of the backs of Kodak printed photos we had in our millennial childhood family albums. Just click on that, and the photo editing suite pops up on the left-hand side menu. Here you can upload your photo or choose a pre-uploaded one. I picked the HEMNA logo stored on my laptop.

Following from that, the next option is the Envelope Liner, where you can choose the pattern for the inside of the envelope. While the presented liner choices were not really suitable for a Christmas-themed card, you can use the search box to find some that are. To match the Backdrop I chose earlier, I picked ‘A Christmas Kennel’, which despite its name does not feature dogs, or indeed kennels. Instead experience the natural warmth of holly berries and leaves, which really says ‘Merry Christmas’.

You can then change the envelope’s front with a pretend postage stamp and adapt the text where you address the recipient. However you cannot change the wording at this point, just the typeface and colour. Then it’s on to the reply card, where as with the envelope you can choose the background design. Strangely, I could not find any festive themed designs so had to make do with something more ‘around-the-year’. 

Once you have finished your custom card, the site takes you to the delivery suite where you can enter your recipients’ email addresses. If you are sending the cards out to a whole bunch of friends or family, or to customers as part of business marketing promotions for the Christmas period, you can upload email lists or address books to save yourself the time of manually entering everything. After sending, you can see if the recipient has collected their card and receive messages sent in response.

 

My verdict: It was a painless and easy process to create and send your own greetings card. The steps were clearly set out and in a logical order, with tonnes of design choice and options for customising, without being too technical, long-winded or complicated. There could have been more Christmas options for designs though in my opinion. The whole process took less than ten minutes from start to finish (I was writing this article at the same time) and there was no crashing, bugs or other errors during the design process. One thing I really appreciate is the attention to detail that Paperless Post weaves into every part of the design step, and the realism you get from the designs themselves. It is almost an oddly satisfying feeling when you open the email and watch the card glide seamlessly out of the pristine envelope and reveal itself. The designs are eye-catching and brilliant to behold. This is my second time reviewing Paperless and they don’t disappoint!

Choose your Christmas card adventure at paperlesspost.com

 

DISCLAIMER: The article was a sponsored post in collaboration with the online cards and stationery site Paperless Post, of which the author was compensated.

 

 

IMAGE CREDITS:

Paperless Post.

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PAPERLESS POST: Experiencing a new breed of e-card

 

They say that life is full of surprises and great things. And, indeed, you’ve just run into a whole bunch of them. Your sister has just had a baby boy, your friend has got his wedding date finally confirmed and the tinpot dictator of a manager at the office you have had to force yourself to be rictus grin nice to is leaving for a new position. Card buying season is making its presence felt but that same life of surprises usually consists of working all the hours thrown your way while juggling gym, hobbies, family time and all that jazz. You haven’t bought a greeting card since Take That split and running from pillar (box) to post (office) to buy stamps and envelopes just seems, well, tedious.

Even if you manage to get time to go out and actually do some shopping around, you will inevitably find yourself either stuck at the supermarket looking for an off-the-shelf card with a generic printed message and a pen that hopefully will not run out of ink halfway through writing in the blasted thing, or you’re at a stuffy printer’s shop trying to haggle a discount on a thousand wedding invites to be delivered ASAP. Because you procrastinated. And procrastination is a thing. You really need something more instant and fuss-free.

 

So send an E-card they said, it’ll be novel, cute and quick as a flash they said. But aren’t e-cards a bit tacky and cheap-looking? Surely good old card and paper seems like, well, you are actually even slightly bothered about this momentous and life-changing special occasion. Not forgetting that actual invitations and cards you can hold in your hand, keep and read at your leisure has a great permanency and intimacy that a few hundred pixels on a screen just cannot achieve. Well think again.

While in days gone by, e-cards were the height of gawdy electro-kitsch with their eye-bruising colours, goofy Clipart images and cat memes galore, a company based in the design capital of New York made the very smart decision a few years back to drag the much-maligned e-greetings industry kicking and screaming to the drawing board for a makeover fit for the 2010s.

Paperless Post is an online company that offers a wide selection of online invitations, ‘save-the-dates’, greetings e-cards and flyers to suit every occasion. Their stated ambition is to produce customisable online stationery that enables customers to create well-designed and personal items for that extra-special touch.

With their contemporary and inspiring creations worthy of a design gallery, not to mention their cute pigeon logo harking back to the days of carrier pigeon post and Yankee Doodle cartoons on a  Saturday morning, Paperless Post have become well-established enough to have scored collaborations with leading designers and lifestyle brands in the U.S., including Kate Spade New York, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co. The company has generated more than 85 million cards to date, both in virtual and printed format, so even traditionalists and people who simply don’t have a computer or an internet connection that ever moved past dial-up can still receive an invite or card via Paperless.

I was invited by Paperless Post to try out their services for myself and had a go making a greetings card for the Hindu festival of Diwali – one of my favourite occasions, which you can see at the beginning of this review. The first thing that struck me about their website was just how amazingly appealing it was to my ‘inner designer’ ‘s eyes. With heaps of prominent imagery framed in soft pastels on just the home page, the site alone could win a design award or two.

While many websites that invest heavily in aesthetics end up neglecting the basics of good navigation, Paperless Post strikes a happy balance between the two. All of the company’s categories of offerings, such as graduation, birthday and festivals, are in a clear, minimalist and straightforward menu up top, so no need to go on an Livingstonian expedition around the site to find what you are looking for.

Like pretty much every e-tailer, you first need to sign up and create an account. You can go for the usual option of registering via an email address, but for the social-media-savvy, you can also sign up via Facebook or Google accounts too. Once done, it’s just the small matter of choosing a design and stationery item. Paperless offers both pre-designed customisable templates and an ‘upload your own’ option that enables you to upload photos and create something truly personal.

I chose to create a Diwali card. I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of designs which were culturally appropriate as well as gorgeous. I selected the ‘Under the Toran’ design with its array of flowers in a garland suspended on a luxurious white heavy paper background.

 

Once you have chosen your preferred style, it’s time to customise. There is a lot of flexibility in the choices, and you can adapt nearly everything from the typeface, colour and size of the card text, to the background behind the card when it’s opened and the colour and feel of the cyber-envelope to put your card in. The attention to detail offered by Paperless Post is such that you can add a vintage letterpress effect to your text and add the finishing touches of a cute little stamp and postmark to the front of the envelope upon completion. There’s the possibility too of choosing the pattern you prefer for the inside of the envelope, which Paperless Post dubs the ‘liner’ – very posh!

I found the user interface intuitive and offering a lot of wiggle room, although manipulating the text for the inside of the card was quite fiddly at first, but I soon got the hang of it, aided by the fact I had some experience designing graphics online using third-party websites. Although you don’t have to be a design expert, some technological prowess is helpful, although those who really struggle can get guidance from the ‘Help’ page.

 

To move between different stages you can click the ‘next’ and ‘back’ arrows (as seen in the image above) or on the menu to the left. The menu is also where you can find the patterns you need and you can play around with different combinations of design to see what fits and what looks great before you finalise everything.

Once the card or invite is complete, you can type in the recipients’ names and emails, and save them into a handy ‘address book’ for future use. The site also offers the option of reviewing the finished product by sending a test copy to yourself, as well as an RSVP facility for your loved ones to respond with messages or other details. You can also track the progress of your item once it’s sent, and even see if it has been opened yet, so no more barely believable claims about ‘the invitation must have got lost in the post’.

Paperless Post uses its own in-house virtual currency, simply called coins, which you will need to purchase before using the site. Coins can be spent on design elements and mailing out to recipients and it’s said to cost less to send an e-card en masse to, say, a hundred people, than if you went out to the local printers and ordered a bulk lot. You also save a bundle on postage and stationery costs too. Prices are not immediately clear when you choose designs, but you can see how many coins you have in your account via your dashboard.

The website was quite clear and helpful in leading me on my journey from template to sent email, with a varied range of different contemporary designs and styles to choose from. I really liked the concept of a card without the paper (and paper cuts). It is a cool and personal touch, and ideal for the environmentally conscious and those who like the instant nature and realistic feel of sending a Paperless Post e-card. It’s also money-saving (as in not having to go out and buy a card, envelope, stamps and all that malarkey) so making Paperless Post ideal for much convenience and less headaches. The sort of inner peace that you just can’t obtain from running around trying to get cards printed and posted before the party plans go up in ink and smoke.

The card I designed was so realistic and detailed, right down to the texture of the ‘paper’, that I had to honestly remind myself not to try and peel it off my laptop screen. The animation of the envelope appearing onscreen and opening to reveal the card emerging is a nice little gesture too, another sign of the attention to detail Paperless Post is famous for.

I guess the supermarket card display won’t miss me too much now I can get my cards straight from a cute website and its little pigeon.

Paperless Post

paperlesspost.com

 

DISCLOSURE: The author was sponsored by the company mentioned in this review and received an incentive in order to fully utilise the product, but opinions and experiences mentioned in the post are the author’s own.

SOURCES:

Helen Chuchak, Anagram Interactive

Paperless Post.

 

 

 

PHOTO MOMENT: Chinese New Year 2015 – Year of the Sheep/Goat

This year, the Chinese New Year will fall on Thursday, February 19, and according to the hallowed annals of the ancient zodiac from which originated the animals and their associated years, we will see the dawn of the Year of the Sheep. The sheep in question is said to be specifically the female Wood Sheep, although some will say it is the Green Sheep. Whichever material or colour the sheep of 2015 will arrive as, the New Year will be a time of new beginnings, family reunions and much excitement.

The sheep is considered a lucky animal, attached to the easy life. An important and ubiquitous creature even today in the rural areas of the world’s most populous nation, the sheep is associated with the elements of earth and wood in the Chinese Five Element theory. Interestingly enough, some users of the Chinese zodiac in fact will state it will soon be the Year of the Goat, another farmyard animal that enjoys nibbling vegetation, although with a range restricted to pastures and mountains in northern China.

The confusion over whether this new lunar year is in honour of the sheep or goat stems from the use of the Mandarin word ‘yang’ to describe this year. The problem is, ‘yang’ can be used to refer to many kinds of herbivorous animals with cloven feet, including sheep, goats, camels and even gazelles, according to Isaac Yue, a professor of Chinese religion and mythology at the University of Hong Kong (interviewed by CNN).

People born in the Year of the Sheep (or Goat or Ram) are said to be tender, kind-hearted, family oriented and endowed with an intelligent nature while being humble and polite. You shouldn’t expect too much boasting bravado or fiery tempers to come out of a Sheep. They are also said to be good with business dealings and can be relied upon to keep the household budget in the black in their everyday economics. They are also aesthetically pleasing with symmetrical faces and figures, if you believe the old legends.

Previous years of the Sheep/Goat this and last century were:- 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003.

Whichever animal takes pride of place in this year’s fantastic celebrations, I’ll be wishing you a very happy Year of the Sheep or Goat.

*********

今年以来,中国农历新年将落在周四,2月19日,并根据古老的生肖从而形成了动物及其关联多年的神圣史册,我们将看到羊年度的曙光。有问题的羊,据说是专门女木羊,虽然有些人会说,这是绿羊。无论材料或颜色2015年羊会到来,新的一年将是新的开始,家庭团聚和太多的激动时刻。

羊被认为是幸运的动物,附着在安逸的生活。即使在今天,在世界上人口最多的国家的农村地区一个重要的,无处不在的动物,羊是用泥土和木材在中国的五行学说中的元素有关。有趣的是,中国的黄道十二宫实际上是一些用户会说明它很快就会山羊,另一个农场的动物,喜欢嗑植被年,尽管仅限于草原和山脉在中国北部的一个范围。

在这个新的农历年是否是为了纪念绵羊或山羊的混乱从使用普通话词’阳’茎今年来形容。问题是,’阳’可以用来指多种草食动物偶的脚,包括绵羊,山羊,骆驼,甚至瞪羚,根据艾萨克·悦,中国的宗教和神话的香港大学教授(由CNN采访)。

生于羊年(或羊或羊)的人说是温柔,善良,面向家庭和赋予智能的性质,而谦虚有礼。你不应该抱太大的期望吹嘘虚张声势还是火热的脾气来一只羊了。他们也说是良好的业务往来,可依靠保持在黑色的家庭预算在日常经济。他们还美观对称面孔和人物,如果你相信古老传说。

往年羊/山羊这和上个世纪是: – 1907年,1919年,1931年,1943年,1955年,1967年,1979年,1991年,2003年

无论动物姣姣在今年的梦幻般的庆祝活动,我会希望你的羊或山羊的一个非常快乐的一年。

 

Here is our selection of lucky images for the occasion. Enjoy!!!

下面是我们选择的幸运图像的场合。享受!

 

 

(c) Sky HD Wallpaper
Via HD Wallpapers Inn
(c) Chinese New Year 2015
(c) AliExpress
(c) Zazzle
(c) Zazzle Australia
(c) Colourbox via Holiday Pictures
(c) Zazzle
(c) 123newyear.com via R. Tayal/YouTube GB
(c) CHINESE NEW YEAR 2015 HAPPY VALENTINES DAY WALLPAPER
(c) playrific

 

(c) Pixel Jeff/Tumblr
*The Half-Eaten Mind’s first ever bilingual article!!
*Text written mainly at Informa offices at Maple House, Tottenham Court Rd., Euston. Picture sourcing and editing of article carried out at the HEM home office in Plaistow. Published as per normal location listed above.
SOURCES:
Chinese New Year 2015 – The Year of Green Wood Sheep or Goat” – Chinese Horoscope Fortune Calendar http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2015.htm
“Is it the Year of the Sheep, Goat or Ram?” – , CNN International Edition/Cable News Network/Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (13 February 2015) http://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/12/asia/year-of-the-goat-sheep-ram/
“Chinese Zodiac – Sheep / Goat / Ram” – TravelChinaGuide http://www.travelchinaguide.com/intro/social_customs/zodiac/sheep.htm
“2015 Chinese Zodiac Sheep – Year of Sheep” – Legend of Chinese Zodiac http://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/Zodiac/SummarySheep.htm
IMAGE CREDITS:
Getty Images via Zemanta.
“Chinese New Year 2015” – Sky HD Wallpaper, SkyHDWallpaper.com http://www.skyhdwallpaper.com/chinese-new-year-2015
“Animated Happy New Year Wallpaper 2015” – HD Wallpapers Inn http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/animated-happy-new-year-wallpaper-2015.html
“Chinese New Year 2015 Sheep HD GIF Animated Wallpapers,Images,Pictures” – Namit Kapoor, Chinese New Year 2015 (6 February 2015) http://chinesenew-year.com/chinese-new-year-2015-sheep-hd-gif-animated-wallpapersimagespictures/
“animated goats Results” – AliExpress, AliExpress.com http://www.aliexpress.com/popular/animated-goats.html
“2015 Chinese New Year Gifts – Shirts, Posters, Art, & more Gift Ideas” – Zazzle, Zazzle Inc http://www.zazzle.co.uk/2015+chinese+new+year+gifts
“Happy New Year Wishes Sms Greeting Card New Year Images Tee 2015” – Holiday Pictures http://holidaypictures.org/new-year-2015/happy-new-year-wishes-sms-greeting-card-new-year-images-tee-2015-10
“Chinese New Year 2015 – Year Of The Sheep/Ram/Goat” – Raghav Tayal, YouTube GB (4 February 2015) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuVIbZJZ73c
“Chinese New Year 2015 Wallpaper, Images, Pictures in HD” – Kartik Shah, CHINESE NEW YEAR 2015 HAPPY VALENTINES DAY WALLPAPER http://www.happynewyear2015wallpaper.com/2015/01/chinese-new-year-2015-wallpaper-images.html
“Happy 2015 Year of the Sheep!” – playrific, Playrific® Inc (January 2015)  http://playrific.com/m/19381/happy-2015-year-of-the-sheep
Pixel Jeff, Tumblr http://pixeljeff.tumblr.com/

LOVE IS…?: The Scribbler Valentine’s Day Competition

By Vijay Shah

Last month, the Half-Eaten Mind brought you news of a Christmas quiz competition launched by the personalised greeting card legends Scribbler where a lucky winner was just a few questions away from winning a year’s supply of free cards of their own choice. Well, they’re back with a new and even more easy-to-enter comp…and this time one lucky lover will be getting more than just flowers and a box of chocs this Valentine’s Day.

To celebrate the season of lurve, Scribbler are giving away a free iPad Mini to the best or most amusing answer to that eternal question “Love is….?”. With a crystal-clear hi-def 7.9 inch screen, 10 hours of battery life and over 300,000 apps on iTunes to choose from, the iPad Mini is the perfect gift to share those special and romantic memories with your loved one…or hog it all for yourself.

Not only that, the Scribbler cupids are also releasing an e-book of love quotes based on the age-old question “What is love?”….and everyone has the chance to see their idea of falling head-over-heels appearing in it!.

(c) Scribbler Holdings
(c) Scribbler Holdings
iPad mini
iPad mini (Photo credit: Stmpjmpr)

Anyone and everyone can contribute an answer, quote or comment on what they really think love is. The best (and worst) definitions of love will be compiled together for inclusion in the e-book, a special edition released to mark the occasion of Valentine’s Day. It’s a perfect way to distract your better half while you scamper around urgently looking for that elusive box of Thornton’s chocolates.

Here’s a handful of answers already contributed:

  • #loveis you covered in chocolate buttons
  • #loveis watching "The Labyrinth" with me, so I can get some special 
       Bowie time
  • #loveis dancing like a freak when no one else is watching

To be in with a chance to win an iPad Mini to stash away your mushy romantic dinner pics, simply either visit the Scribbler blog (link below) and leave your “Love is ?” answer along with your name/Twitter handle and email address. Otherwise you can tweet your answer using the hashtag #loveis to the official Scribbler Twitter page @scribblercards .

THE SCRIBBLER VALENTINE’S QUIZ: Click here to enter!!

Happy Valentines Day
Happy Valentines Day (Photo credit: blmurch)

If that isn’t enough to make your sweetheart smile, then here’s something that will make them grin. In collaboration with Scribbler, the Half-Eaten Mind is offering a 20% DISCOUNT on products offered by the Scribbler site. Just enter the unique discount code  VALENTINESB3 at checkout to save on your purchase (online only). You can start shopping just by clicking on the Valentine’s card image below.

Please note, you must place your order before 2 pm on Monday 11th February if you want the recipient to have their card delivered before the 14th.

(c) Scribbler Holdings

ADDITIONAL SOURCE:

“iPad Mini” – Apple Inc. LINK

SCRIBBLER CHRISTMAS QUIZ: Win £300 of personalised cards

By Vijay Shah

In one of the Half-Eaten Mind’s recent articles (read it here), I looked at the increasing popularity of personalised goods that you can design and order yourself from online (and physical ) retailers. Whether it is your nephew’s silly face on a stamp, or your next-door neighbour’s ‘ugly mug’ on a coffee mug, nearly any kind of treasured memory can be reproduced as a memento.

Nowhere has the trend of personalisation been more pronounced than in the industry of the greetings card. With easy and innovative options to create your own tailor-made cards for that extra special touch, it does not need a lot of effort to show that you have been really thinking of the special people in your life – a much more meaningful and human method of expression than plucking a random pre-designed generic card off a newsagent’s shelf and calling it a day.

Greeting cards on display at retail.
Greeting cards on display at retail. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In an industry usually associated with funky singing pigeons and flying pig’s heads zooming around deep space, there is a new face on the card scene: Scribbler.

Unlike the big players, Scribbler have been selling greetings card from their network of outlets in the U.K. for thirty years. The independently-owned company has made itself one of the country’s leading purveyors of quality celebratory products through its blend of fresh and unique design supplemented with edgy ‘slap-your-knees’ humour.

(c) Scribbler Holdings
(c) Scribbler Holdings

Scribbler have now branched out into the personalised cards industry with adaptable versions of their in-store designs. Their offerings are not for the faint-hearted with hundreds of pretty, witty and gritty cards suitable for a variety of occasions and purposes. The cards are illustrated with bright cheerful, yet not-over-the-top graphics from award-winning designers, many exclusive to Scribbler. For U.K. customers, postage is free and cards can be printed and posted on the same day if ordered by 2 pm. Scribbler also accept international payments, and are more than happy to deliver to addresses abroad.

In the run-up to the Christmas festive season, Scribbler have launched an online festivity-inspired quiz on their official blog, where a lucky winner will receive a very special Xmas gift – over £300 worth of personalised greeting cards. Enough to keep you busy up until Christmas 2013.

(c) Scribbler Holdings

The Scribbler Christmas Quiz is the perfect chance to find out whether you are a joyfully festive Xmas elf who is lapping up the mince pies and mulled wine or a Scrooge whose idea of Chrimbo cheer is leaving out a rusty sweets tin full of Bah Humbugs.

Simply answer ten funny questions on how you are going to mark the 12 days of Christmas and click the submit button to be entered into the prize draw to win a year’s supply of your own dream greetings cards.  If the top prize does not fire up your Yule log, you can still complete the quiz just for the fun of it without entering the draw.

GOOD LUCK AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

THE SCRIBBLER XMAS QUIZ:

Click here to enter……