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 wondering what to do with the old cards. Recycling is a better option than throwing them in the garbage, but reusing the cards is even better.
You could always start a Christmas card album where you save the photo cards to see how everyone changes from year to year. But, there are plenty of more interesting ways to repurpose holiday and greeting cards — whether you are crafty or not. Try one of these 16 cool things to do with used Christmas cards; most are so easy, your kids can join in on the holiday craft project.
If you receive a lot of holiday cards that are printed on photo paper, you can still use most of these Christmas card craft ideas. However, for some crafts, you may need to paste the photo onto the “used” part of an old card to make it thicker or so you can write on it.
1. Gift tags
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 card’s picture area down to postcard size. On 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 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.)
3. Cocoa envelopes
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.
4. Wine charms
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.
5. Mini puzzles
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 kids, and they can have fun putting the picture back together.
6. Make a holiday basket
Repurpose the cutest Christmas cards into adorable card baskets. Create your basket using family photo cards, or make a basket out of cardboard and attach the card using glue.
7. Popsicle puppets
Cut out figures (Santa, snowmen, etc.) from old 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 straws or plastic spoons.
8. 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.
9. Scrapbooking material
If you scrapbook, cut out pictures and words from your collection of used holiday cards that you can work into your pages. This is a great idea for photo cards your receive from family and friends.
10. Recipe cards
Again, if there is no writing on the inside front of your used Christmas card, 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.
11. Jar Toppers
Cut circles out of greeting 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.
Another fun craft for kids using Christmas cards is making placemats. Have the kids 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. Instant placemat! You can make special birthday or holiday placemats using photo cards of friends and family.
13. Place cards
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.
14. Paper chains
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 an old Christmas 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.
16. 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 or to other organizations in your area. Those “new” cards can brighten someone’s day.
For craftier options, check out these ideas:
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