Every year before Christmas, our mailbox fills with holiday cards from family and friends. I hang them on the refrigerator or banister during the season for display, but once the holiday decorations come down, I’m always looking for something to do with the cards. Recycling is a better option than throwing them in the garbage, but reusing the cards is even better. There are plenty of ways to give a second life to holiday and greeting cards — whether you are crafty or not.
If you receive a lot of photo cards that are printed on photo paper, you can still use most of these ideas, but for some crafts, you may need to paste the photo onto the “used” part of an old card to make them thicker or so you can write on them. Or start a Christmas card album where you can save the photo cards each year so you can see how everyone changes from year to year.
Create gift tags by cutting pieces of the cards into square, rectangular or other shapes and punching holes for strings or ribbons. Write “to” and “from” on the back of the tag if there isn’t any room on the front.
Bonus: If you get photo cards from people and will be giving gifts to them next year, cut out their photos and paste it onto a scrap from another card and punch a hole in the corner to make a personalized gift card – you won’t even need to write their names on the tags. You can also use your leftover photo cards as gift tags for gifts you are giving, as I did here with our cute dog Boof:
If there is no writing on the inside of the front of a card, cut the front of the card with the picture down to postcard size. One the blank side, draw a line down the middle, put the address on the right side, and write your greeting on the left side. Ta-da! Holiday cards for the next season for the price of a postcard stamp.
(Note: Postcards must be rectangular, at least 3.5 inches high by 5 inches long, and no more than 4.25 inches high by 6 inches long to qualify for the postcard postage rate: 34 cents as of December 2014.)
My five-second example — I’m sure you can be neater than this:
If you scrapbook, cut out pictures and words that you can work into your pages.
Again, if there is no writing on the inside front, tear off the back page and recycle it. Write your favorite recipes on the blank side and add them into a card, gift or package. This would be great to accompany gifts of food and with wedding or baby shower gifts.
Supplies: Cards, 11-by-17 paper, scissors, glue, clear contact paper
This is a great project for the kids. Have them cut out and arrange their favorite pictures from cards in a collage onto the paper, glue the pictures down and laminate both sides with contact paper. This would be good for special birthday or holiday placements using cards from the year before, and extra cute using pictures from photo cards of friends and family.
Supplies: Cards, 4-by-4 ceramic tiles, decoupage glue (Mod Podge), clear sealer, self-adhesive felt circles
Find a picture on a card that will fit onto the tile. Cut to size. Put Mod Podge or preferred glue on the tile and place the card on top. Mod Podge again over the card (it will dry clear). Spray with a clear sealer. Place felt circles on the back to prevent furniture scratches.
New cards from old cards
Supplies: Cards, card stock, glue
Fold the card stock, making a hard crease. Cut out a design from an old card and glue it to the front of the new card. Write your own message inside. (You can also do this with pictures you’ve taken and printed).
Donate old cards
If you don’t want to reuse your cards but would like to give them a second life and don’t mind spending a few dollars for a good cause, you can send holiday cards to St. Jude’s Ranch, a nonprofit home for youths that collects old holiday cards for reuse. Cut off the backs of the cards or leave them intact and send using cheap flat-rate mailers. The children at St. Jude’s earn money by creating new holiday cards from the old with the Recycled Card Program. Some card brands are excluded. See site for details and for shipping information.
For craftier options, check out these ideas:
- Make a gift box from greeting cards
- Make luminaries from greeting cards
- Make ornaments from greeting cards
What other ideas can you think of for reusing greeting cards?