The holidays are fast upon us, and as we huddle up for yet another recessive year-end, the thought of lavish corporate celebration is far from our minds. Yet it’s still important to thank clients and strategic partners for their business. Oh! I have it! Let’s make an E-Card.

Stop right there. Just stop it.

News flash: The Internet has been around for 20 years now, and you’re not impressing anyone with JQuery animations embedded into a corporate group photo. We’ve seen all of this done with more class on Pepsi commercials.

By sending e-cards instead of a tangible “something” you’re telling your partners is that you can’t even bother to sit down for two minutes and write your name on a card. Instead, you’ve outsourced your Holiday sentiment to a couple of 20-year olds at your advertising agency. And you probably asked them to “keep it within budget.”

Ho Ho Ho.

A refresher on Holiday Spirit

Can we all step back from our cutting -edge Web programming and remember what the holidays are supposed to be about? I am simply asking for a moment’s pause before we devolve into sending “Holiday Tweets” and “Merry Xmas to all our business partners” Facebook updates.

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Everyone knows that holiday corporate gift giving is about candy, processed cheese logs and hastily concocted (yet signed and MAILED) corporate cards. (And here’s the surprise — to send out these traditional items costs the same as producing a holiday e-card. And it’s better for the economy.) Where did this tradition go?

Just thinking about mail-order Hickory Farms salami with Ritz crackers and Cracker Barrel brick cheese makes me nostalgic for the annual corporate holiday food coma of years past. It’s about being together, taking a break from work, and strapping on the feed bag. Now where are those baggy pants?

My kingdom for a logoed key chain or flashlight

It’s silly, I know. But my favorite part of corporate holidays was the silent inter-office competition to see who in the accumulated the most gifts. None of us kept them much past the holidays, unless it was something really useful like a logoed flashlight or LED keychain; the fun of it was really more in the vein of who got the most stuff.

Holiday e-cards can’t sit on my desk to impress my colleagues. And I won’t find it years later in the back of my desk drawer as a reminder of what a great business partner you’ve been over the years. E-cards are ephemeral items — forgotten as soon as they’re received.

It’s called a PEN, people

At the very least, and I mean the VERY least, send me a card with your handwriting on it. I know that in order to get me a signed card, you probably spent half the day signing cards without knowing who they were going to, but at least you did it. You sat yourself in a chair for an hour or two and reflected on the Holiday. And with any luck you were drinking a cold beer at the same time.

Now THAT sounds more like holiday spirit. Take a minute and think about it. A whole minute.

Happy Holidays.

Marci De Vries is president of MDV Interactive, a web consulting firm in Baltimore. Reach her at marci@mdvinteractive.com.