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. Or cut out letter shapes from the cards to personalize family gifts.
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.
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.)
Let’s think about next year’s holiday! Take those extra-wide Christmas and holiday cards, and glue the edges of three sides of the card together, making a sleeve. Punch a hole at the top of the card envelope. Insert a package of fancy hot cocoa mix (or other gift) and tie closed using a ribbon through the punched hole. The card can be hung on the tree or tucked into a stocking.
Cut out little festive circles or other shapes from old holiday cards, making each one different from the next. Punch a hole in one end and insert a pipe cleaner or rubber band. Slip the charms onto a wine glass stem to create identifiers for guests.
Using a pencil, draw puzzle pieces on the inside of a card front. Number the pieces, and cut out. Store the pieces in plastic bags, little boxes or plastic containers. You can use the little puzzles as a counting or sorting activity for your little ones, and they can have fun putting the picture back together.
Make a holiday basket
Save the cutest cards for this adorable card basket by All Free Crafts. Create a basket using family photo cards, or make a basket out of cardboard and attach the card using glue.
Cut out figures (Santa, snowmen, etc) from holiday cards. Attach a popsicle stick to the back with tape or glue. You have an instant stick puppet! Your child can put on plays or create fun stories with the figures. If you don’t have popsicle sticks, substitute them with straws, or spoons from the kitchen.
Build an entire neighborhood
Cut and fold holiday cards to make cute little houses. Make enough of them to display a miniature village. You could choose cards of the same color if you want your neighborhood to have some similarity, or go wild with color. Download the template from Better Homes and Gardens here.
If you scrapbook, cut out pictures and words that you can work into your pages. This is a great idea for photo cards your receive from family and friends.
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.
Cut circles out of cards using a mason jar flat sealing lid as a template. When you give a gift in a jar, slip one of the card circles in to make it more festive.
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.
Cut and fold place cards out of old cards for those holiday sit-down dinners. Or have some fun and attach the name cards to ribbon lanyards and have guests wear them to get acquainted with other party-goers.
Make a paper chain for the holiday tree or fireplace mantle. Simply cut the holiday cards into equal sized strips. Make a circle out of one of the strips and tape or staple it together. Then add strips to the original circle, making conjoined circles (or links) into a chain.
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
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). Consider donating those cards to senior care homes such as this one, or to other organizations in your area. Those “new” cards can brighten someone’s day.
For craftier options, check out these ideas:
What other ideas can you think of for reusing greeting cards?
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