Lately, (and by “lately”, I mean the last year or so. Eeek!) I’ve been forgetting to stop by my favorite stationery store to pick up cards in enough time to get them off in the mail before that occasion passes. More than once, I’ve sent someone her birthday card on her birthday. Whoops. And while I feel like sending an actual card is a step in the right direction, having said card arrive three days post-birthday, no good. So, in the world of postmodern etiquette, are e-cards an acceptable substitute?
Can E-cards Replace Traditional Cards?
Are Birthday E-cards Appropriate?
E-cards are a popular replacement for traditional birthday cards. Now, birthday e-cards are nothing new, but they have become much more mainstream in modern correspondence. (As a side note: there are some hysterical e-cards out there. Someecards, anyone?) In a world where the majority of your birthday wishes may come from Facebook, an e-card does demonstrate some thought and effort. As with any birthday card, if you are going to send an e-card wish, take the time to find one that reflects the recipient. After all, the point of a birthday card, in any form, is to show the birthday girl that you were thinking of her. But if you send her an generic e-card (Think: teddy bear holding a bunch of balloons), she will know that wishing her well on her birthday was just a thing for you to check off of your to-do list.
Verdict: Acceptable substitute, but please personalize
Should I Use Evites for My Next Party?
Many party invites I receive are sent through Evite, and it’s easy to see why so many people are going the electronic route for invitations. Punchbowl, Pingg, Evite, and the like make event communication a snap. Hostesses can use designs tailored to the event or their own images to create a personalized invitation, send invites and subsequent information to a group quickly and effortlessly, and track RSVPs to determine headcount. Also, most of these sites store your guest lists, event dates, email addresses, and party details which makes future party planning a breeze. Electronic invitations can also benefit guests: RSVPing requires just a click of a mouse and event invitations can be linked to your personal calendar. And just as hostesses can monitor the RSVPs, so can invitees. While this feature may encourage some bad behavior, like basing your response on the genteelness of the guest list, it is a nice way to avoid any surprises.
Verdict: Acceptable substitute
Can I Email a Thank You Note?
Just as sites like Punchbowl, Pingg, and Evite have invitation templates, they also feature thank you notes you can customize and email to anyone. And while e-cards and invites can cut down on the time, cost, and environmental effects associated with traditional correspondence, thank you notes are one instance where electronic versions won’t make the cut. Sending a thank you note should be a heartfelt expression of your gratitude, whether it is for a kind word or a baked good to welcome you to the neighborhood. By sending a card, rather then an e-card (or an email, for that matter), you are showing someone that you truly appreciate her time and thoughtfulness by acting accordingly.
Verdict: Go traditional over electronic
Old school rules of etiquette would have you believe that electronic correspondence has no place where manners are concerned. While I tend to send traditional cards and invitations, and I think most people appreciate a traditional card, I, and most folks I know, have no problem receiving e-cards or invites. But, in the case of thank you notes, I suggest penning a traditional thank you or risk finding yourself not needing to write many.
Photo credit: Someecards, Evite, Flashy Soup Can