Create a holiday card with Apple’s Cards for iPhone

If you’d rather use your Mac, check out “How to create a holiday greeting card with iPhoto.” — Dave

Apple released Cards for iPhone and iPad (free, universal) in October, 2011. It lets you create nice-looking greeting cards right on your iPhone or iPad with custom photos, text and more. You can even have your card mailed to your family or friends right from your iPhone.

Here’s how to make a nice-looking holiday card with Cards and impress those on your list.

Pick A Card, Any Card

Cards offers many templates across eight categories. There are 39 options in the holiday category alone. To pick a holiday-themed template, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the snowflake icon at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Swipe to view the different template options.
  3. Tap your choice to begin building.

Once you’ve tapped your selection, the composition screen appears. You’ll notice that the envelope is behind the card. More on that later in this post. There are also five buttons across the top of the screen:

  1. Back. Discard the current card and return to template selection.
  2. Outside. Tap this to work on the outside of your card. It’s selected by default.
  3. Inside. Tap to edit the message inside your card.
  4. Envelope. Add your return address and the recipient’s address.
  5. Purchase. This displays the price of the card. Tap to buy.

We’ll start by editing the outside of the card.

Add A Photo or Two

Or even three. Some templates let you put a single, beautiful photo front-and center. Others let you create a mini montage of two or three photos, with or without accompanying graphics. Still other templates eschew images for a simple line of text. Since grandma wants to see Jr.’s smiling face, I’ll explain how to add a photo to your card.

Templates that accommodate photos will have a place holder image(s). Once you’ve selected that template, those images are replaced with greyed-out silhouettes. To insert your own photo, follow these steps:

  1. Tap the silhouette. A slip appears with three options: Take Photo, Choose Existing Photo and Cancel.
  2. Tap Take Photo to shoot an image then and there.
  3. Tap Choose Existing to select an image from your albums.

The image you shoot or select will replace the placeholder. There are a few things to keep in mind here. First, you can only choose a photo from an album you’ve created in the Photos app. Events, Faces and Places aren’t available. You might want to set up a target album first.

Also, you can reposition and resize a photo with pinch-and-zoom and/or a drag. That will let you fit it perfectly in the photo space. Finally, if you change your mind after you’ve placed an image, simply tap it again to start over.

When your image(s) is just how you want it, tap Apply in the upper right-hand corner.

Interior Text

The text inside Apple’s card templates is pretty nice, if not a little bland an impersonal. Fortunately, it’s easy to change. Here’s how.

  1. Double-tap to zoom in on the text.
  2. Single-tap to highlight the text you’d like to change.
  3. Type your custom message.
  4. If there’s more than one line of text, tap “Next” to advance to the next line. Conversely, tap “Previous” to go back to text you’ve edited previously.
  5. Finally, you can tap Clear to erase a line entirely. When you’re good, tap Done to confirm your changes and leave text edit mode.

Edit The Envelope


It’s time to work on the envelope. Tap the Envelope button to swap the card and envelope via a cute animation. If you’ve identified a contact record as yourself, Cards will pull the associated mailing address and use it as the return address. To add a recipient from your contacts, just…

  1. Tap Add Recepients…
  2. Give Cards permission to access your contacts.
  3. Find the name you’re after and tap it.

That’s it! If your recipient isn’t in your contacts list, tap edit and type his/her name and address manually.

Purchase and Send

To send your card on its way, tap the price button in the upper right-hand corner. It turns from blue to green as it asks to confirm your purchase. Confirm, enter your Apple ID password and off it goes! Now, sit back and enjoy the fact that you didn’t have to enter a store to get a card. Plus, your custom photos and text will blow away anything from the rack in the supermarket.

I’ve sent several cards with Apple’s Cards and they always look great and elicit a nice response. Of course, Cards isn’t the only way to create a custom greeting card with Apple hardware. Tomorrow, I’ll describe how to do the same thing with iPhoto. See you then.

Thanks for reading. You’ll find more tech-y “how-to’s” here.

1 Comment

  1. I’ve used Cards app to send lots of greeting cards. I’ve had a great experience until recently. I created a birthday card for my sister-in-law. The process was as easy as you described. However, when I attempted to complete the process and pay for the card I ran into problems. The app warned me that there was an issue with my card, that it could not complete the transactiin and suggested I update my iTunes account settings. I checked my account and tried again. Same problem. I changed credit card information and tried again. The app warned me that it could not complete the transaction and to try again later. I waited an hour and tried again. Same result. I tired a few more time over a few days before giving up. Imagine my surprise when a week later Apple sent me an email acknowledging a problem and advising me to check my account status. I was not happy when I realized I had been charged 10 times for the same card. Apple customer support wasn’t helpful. They couldn’t cancel my order — the cards had already shipped — offering instead to send me 10 return labels. No offer of a refund. So now I’m waiting for the return labels to arrive and my sister-in-law has dropped off the cards to my home.

    “Dear Apple Customer,
    Thank you for your recent Cards App order.
    Due to a system issue, you may have received a message stating your Cards App order was unsuccessful. If you placed your order again, a duplicate order may have been created.”

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