With Christmas just around the corner, you might be noticing a distinct lack of jingle in your bank account. The cost of cards alone could spell an Austerity Xmas, but with a little creativity and some help from the Samsung GALAXY Note II, you can send season's greetings for the 21st Century, and it needn't cost you a penny!

One way to make a great greetings card on the Note II is to use My Story, a free app from Samsung that includes templates for all kinds of cool letters and cards.

You can add your own pictures and videos, as well as animations and sound effects including recordings of your own voice. So even if you can't see someone in person this year, they can still hear you wishing them a Merry Christmas when they receive your card by MMS or email.


Put your best face on

So what to put on the front of your Christmas card? With the Note II, it's easy to take the perfect Christmas picture using the 8MP camera, and to add a festive filter using the in-built tools or an app such as Instagram.

If you're taking a family photo or other group shot, you can even get round the inevitable blinking and gurning by calling up the brilliant Best Face feature in the camera's shooting mode menu.

With Best Face, the camera takes a rapid series of photos so you can choose your favourite facial expressions from each, before the app assembles a seamless composite of your group looking its very best.

And if you want a quick, tacky photo fix to really Xmas things up, Camera Zoom FX has a fun Christmas pack that will insert little festive graphics into your photos, including snow, Christmas trees and of course Santa himself!


Paper Artist has it all wrapped up

Of course, if you don't want to send a festive photograph, the Note II has other options for you, too.

Say you want to draw a picture or create a photomontage of seasonal snaps? With a few deft gestures of the S Pen, anything is possible, and there's a wealth of apps to help you along.

By holding down the S Pen button and drawing round any part of the screen, you can Easy Clip all the Christmas imagery you could ever need and save it to the gallery for use in your creations. And once you've got hold of all the snowman and reindeer pictures you want, it's as easy as mince pies to start to play with them.

One of the coolest ways to do this is to use the Paper Artist tool, a built-in app on the GALAXY Note II that will give your photos a gorgeous hand-drawn look, perfect for a traditional-looking Christmas card.

There are several art styles and materials to choose from, so you can go for a rough and ready charcoal sketch or a more elaborate and ornate etching.

You can even use the S Pen to selectively colour parts of the image or to add your own embellishments and shading. Spend just a few minutes with Paper Artist and you can turn an everyday photo into a work of art you'd be proud to put on your mantelpiece all year round – not just for the Christmas season!


Christmas arty time

If you prefer to create your drawings from scratch, then you could do much worse than check out Infinite Painter. The latest edition of this amazing app is designed especially for Samsung's GALAXY Note devices, and with the S Pen and the Note II it's about as close as you can get to real painting without the risk of messing up your carpet!

You can mix colours to get that perfect holly red, use blending effects to conjure up a roaring log fire, and choose from a range of pressure-sensitive brushes to paint the perfect snowflake.

You can even import photos and clippings from your gallery – perhaps in order to paste Santa hats and beards onto all your friends!

Once you've saved your Christmas masterpiece, you can then return to My Story to transform it into an e-card, or use the Note II's endless connectivity options to share it via social media.

And if your friends don't like the fact you've given them Rudolph noses all over the internet? Remind them that Christmas is a time for sharing, after all!