05/10/2012 18:33 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Email Christmas Cards: Savvy Or Stingy?

Email Christmas cards: Savvy or stingy? AP

When you're still up at midnight with a pile of unwritten cards and flipping through your address book for the friend you've just been chatting to on Facebook, aren't you just a little bit tempted to ping off an email Christmas card instead?

And it's not just the time you'll save in hunting down all those addresses but there's the cost factor too. You've got to buy those cards and even posting second class will set you back nearly 40p a time. Pop in a few photos of the kids too and your card is unlikely to make the 'letter' rate in the Post Office which can put the price up even more.

So does sending e-Christmas cards make life easier all round?

No, says Alex, who admits: "I'm a bit old fashioned about Christmas cards so I see email ones as a cop out, but there's certainly a good argument for them in terms of saving waste paper."

Hollie, a mum of two girls aged 10 and seven, says last year was her first year into the world of email cards: "I'd got into this crazy tradition where I'd dress my daughters up as something Christmassy, like elves, think of a whacky caption and do the whole cutting and sticking thing to turn the photos into Christmas cards. But by the time I finished I was too tired to stick the stamps on let alone post them! So last year I took a photo of the girls, (no dressing up) and sent it off as an email attachment which was so liberating!"

As for me, I've never done the mass mailing email thing. I actually love the feeling of breaking open the boxes of cards and sitting down on a Sunday afternoon (though more often evening!) with a glass of wine and writing them. But yes I'm happy to own up to sending a couple through cyberspace; one usually wings its way to my friend Lisa in Dubai as I just never seem to get hers written by that early December 'last posting date' which catches me out every year!

And hands up how many of us have great plans to write a few lines on cards for people we don't see from one year to the next, but come the fifth card all our good intentions go out of the window?

Hollie says sending email cards meant she could add a personal message to each card: "It showed more effort than hand writing the same bald basic message every time, and I donated what I would normally have spent on cards and postage to charity instead."

But while charities will naturally be glad of these donations, does the trend for email cards mean they could be missing out?

According to Oxfam over 140 million fewer Christmas cards were sent last year with their own Christmas card sales down 14%.

Etiquette expert Diana Mather, who writes her own cards, says: "Charities rely on Christmas cards as part of their income, so sending cards spreads goodwill and shows Christmas spirit." But she says if you're short of time it's better not to send Christmas cards at all than send e-cards.

"It's a cheap and impersonal way of sending Christmas greetings; you might as well send a text. I find them a pain, especially the musical ones which take ages to download or look at! It shows a lack of thought for the recipient as they have to print them out and use their ink and paper if they want a permanent record."

What do you think? Will you be doing traditional cards, e-cards, or nothing at all?