Many people like to send cards to their friends and relatives at Christmas, but you can up your game this year by creating a Christmas-themed video instead that's perfect for sharing on Facebook, Whatsapp or similar.
Popular apps for making Christmas ecards and holiday videos include Elf Yourself - which is probably the best known and most loved Christmas video maker. Below we describe how to use Elf Yourself and also look at a few Elf Yourself alternatives if you really want to stand out from the crowd.
So read on to find out everything you need to know about how to make funny Christmas video ecards staring you and your family or friends.
Also, if you’re still looking for that last minute present then be sure to check out our Best tech gifts for Christmas 2019 to find some inspiration. Or check out our best Apple Deals round up for some discounts on Apple kit.
We also have how to call Santa on your iPhone here.
We'll start with the Christmas stalwart, Elf Yourself. Here we'll explain how to use Elf Yourself, including where videos are saved, how to share to Facebook and Whatsapp, how many elves can feature in your video and how to get free videos from Elf Yourself.
What is Elf Yourself?
While the name of this app might sound like some kind of Laplandian insult, it’s actually a very fun way to transform yourself and your family or friends into Santa’s little helpers.
Elf Yourself has a pre-made video of elves dancing around Santa’s workshop, and by either taking a selfie or selecting an image from your photo library you can add your face to their lithe bodies.
The app supports up to five elves, each of which can have different faces, with each video starring the relevant amount. This avoids the catastrophic mistake whereby you find your dancing persona surrounded by headless, jigging monsters - or Night of the Living Riverdance as it's known.
Elf Yourself is a great way to make you and your friends laugh. It’s free for the workshop video, but others are available from £0.99 in-app purchases, or £7.99 for all 19 dances.
If you aren't keen on paying 99p for a dance, come back tomorrow as each day a different dance is given away for free.
How to use Elf Yourself
- Start by choosing your photos - you can take a photo or pick one from your camera roll. We tapped on Camera roll.
- Choose your photo and it will appear under an elf’s hat. You will need to adjust the face to suit the frame, so pinch or pull out until it fits. You need to try to align the mouth with the guide line - but you can move the guide by dragging it.
- If the photo you choose isn’t straight you can rotate it slightly with your fingers to make it fit.
- Once you are happy tap next.
- To create your next elf tap on the plus symbol under the hat.
- Continue with these steps until you have created all the elves you require. You don’t have to make five.
- The next step is to add a greeting, although you don't have to. Tap on Add Greeting.
- Tap on the words Your holiday greeting here and you’ll be able to adjust the wording.
- Tap Save.
- Now to dance: Tap Let’s Dance.
- Here you will see previews of various dance videos. You can scroll through the list to locate the free ones (you get two free videos a day in addition to the classic video). When you find one you like you can tap on it to download. Some cost 99p, others are free.
- Locate the video you want and tap on download.
- The video takes a few minutes to download and it isn’t obvious where it has gone. However, if you tap on the yellow download arrow (and confirm that Elf Yourself can Access Your Photos) your video will download to your Photos app.
- Tap on Ok.
- Now you’ll gave to wait a few seconds while it Prepares your Video. You may see an advert at this stage, but you can click on the x to close it.
- Now go to your photo library and check your Recents or your Video folder to find the video.
- Share to Facebook, Whatsapp or via Message in the usual way.
Apps like Elf Yourself
As much as we love Elf Yourself, everyone else is using it so if you want to stand our you'll want to try something different. We've checked out a couple of alternatives below.
Like Elf Yourself, Jib Jab offers various videos and GIFs that you can star in. Here's how to use it.
Here's how to make a festive GIF with Jib Jab:
- Download the Jib Jab app here.
- You can sign in with Facebook or email, or just log in. If you sign in via Facebook you’ll need to log in with your Facebook details. You’ll also need to approve the use of your camera.
- The first step is to snap a selfie. You need to fill the oval shape with your face.
- Once the selfie is taken you can pinch and rotate the image to edit it. You can also choose different shaped faces that might suit you better.
- If you tap on the screen you will see guides appear that indicate where your eyes and mouth need to be.
- Once you are happy tap on the tick to save.
- You’ll see various options that preview your face in various cards, videos and GIFs. If you want to view just videos, or just GIFs you can tap on the relevant tab. Note that you can make videos with this app, but they are 'Member Exclusives' which means you need to pay a monthly subscription of £2.29 (of course you can cancel your subscription at any time).
- Pick a GIF you like by tapping on it.
- You have the option to type text onto the GIF, change to another face, or just go ahead and share. You can share via Messages,Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and more.
- Want to save the GIF to your Photo library? Send it as a message to yourself, press and hold on the GIF and choose save.
Here's how to make a Christmas video with Jib Jab:
- Want to create a video? Scroll through the video previews until you find one you like - there are a few Christmassy options, we chose “Santa’s Coming for Us” by Sia (but remember you have to subscribe to use these).
- Tap on your choice
- Next you have the option to Make Clip, so tap on that:
Drag your face onto the character (or add a new face)
Now you need to adjust the mouth shape until it fits around the bottom lip, as that will move with the song.
- Tap the tick to save.
- Now tap to watch video. Here you will be asked to pay a monthly subscription of £2.29. You could just pay the subscription for one month and then cancel, of course. Here's how to cancel a subscription on iPhone.
Christmas Dance - Happy moves
This option is similar to Elf Yourself. Christmas Dance - Happy Moves gives you the option of creating two characters to star in a video.
Christmas Dance - Happy Moves is free to use. Unfortunately there are a lot of ads, but these can be closed after a few seconds.
- Download from the App Store here.
- Tap on Start.
- Close the ad that appears.
- There are options to add two characters, a Santa and an elf. Tap on the +.
- Give the app permission to access your camera and photos.
- You can take a selfie or choose a picture from your photo library.
- Once you have added your faces tap on Dance.
- Now you’ll see a few backgrounds to choose from, pick the one you like.
- Wait for the video to play and then you will get options to download or share. Tap on share to Message, Mail, WhatsApp, Facebook and so on.
- Tap on the download symbol to save it to your Photo roll, you’ll need to grant the app permission to access photos.
- It may take a few minutes to appear but it will eventually appear.
Tappy Video Editor
This is the option for you if you have a video you've already recorded but want to add some Christmas features too it. Tappy offers various animated stickers you can add to your video that appear at certain points during playback. Many of the effects have sound effects. You can share to Facebook, Instagram and Facebook Messenger directly from the app.
- Download Tappy here.
- Choose your video.
- While the video plays tap on the various stickers to add them so that they appear at that point in playback.
Want to get a bit more creative with your Christmas video? Read our guides to using iMovie on the iPhone and iMovie on the Mac, plus we have this guide to using the Memories app to make videos and slideshows on your iPhone.
With your festive video now created, it could be time to sit back and compare it with others made on a slightly higher budget. Read Our Best Christmas movies on iTunes guide for a selection of the finest.
And if you shot your video in portrait mode when you meant it to be landscape, or vice versa, here's how to rotate a video on iPhone.