How to Reuse or Upcycle Old Christmas Cards

Updated on January 6, 2018
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Crafts are great for one-of-kind gift or special decorations at Christmas time. You can make ornaments or other decorative items.

Too Pretty to Waste

I love getting Christmas cards and hate to toss out the pretty ones after the holiday season.
I love getting Christmas cards and hate to toss out the pretty ones after the holiday season. | Source

Ideas for Reusing Christmas Cards

What happens to Christmas cards once the holiday is over? Probably 90% end up in the trash. What a waste that is when they can be repurposed in many thrifty ways. Let's make use of those cards so they don't contribute to overflowing landfills.

Many of the uses are simple and even your children can help. For those that don't want to bother with converting the cards to other uses, I provide places to donate them.

A lot of the tips I'll share below also work for greeting cards from other occasions as well such as Valentine's Day, Easter, and birthdays.

What Do You Currently Do with Your Old Christmas Cards?

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Cards Ready for New Uses

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Sort and Cut Up the Cards

I go through my cards after the holiday to see what to save and what to discard. By using parts of the cards for crafts, very little ends up in the trash.

  • Save the ones with messages/letters that you want to respond to. Deaths, divorce, new babies require a response to extend sympathy, support, or congratulations depending on the situation.
  • Cards with just a simple signature, I cut the front and back apart. The back, if mostly plain, gets used as scrap paper. If it is a fancy gold or red or silver, I save it to use in scrapbooking or in making my homemade Valentines.

Make placemats out of them. Cut circles and put them on that sticky paper, clear contact paper with a print on the bottom.

— Cheryl

Decorate Presents with Last Year's Christmas Cards

When I'm mailing gifts, I usually skip the bows which get crushed in the mail. Instead, I decorate the package with colorful cards and tie with a ribbon or yarn.
When I'm mailing gifts, I usually skip the bows which get crushed in the mail. Instead, I decorate the package with colorful cards and tie with a ribbon or yarn. | Source

A Papercutter or Scissors Are All You Need

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Make Bookmarks from Cards

Choose designs that can be cut into slim strips just like bookmarks. You can punch a hole into the top and tie a ribbon or yarn for extra ornamentation or just use them without that.
Choose designs that can be cut into slim strips just like bookmarks. You can punch a hole into the top and tie a ribbon or yarn for extra ornamentation or just use them without that. | Source

Click on Each Small Picture to See the Description

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Some cards will work for making several bookmarks. Others might just make one. You want to cut them so each looks complete on its own. Don't have half of Santa's face on one bookmark and half on another. Short or long, bookmarks come in various sizes. I like to make mine short enough to go inside the Christmas cards that I'll send out next December. Some card designs lend themselves to vertical bookmarks and others to horizontal like the ones in this photo.
Some cards will work for making several bookmarks. Others might just make one. You want to cut them so each looks complete on its own. Don't have half of Santa's face on one bookmark and half on another.
Some cards will work for making several bookmarks. Others might just make one. You want to cut them so each looks complete on its own. Don't have half of Santa's face on one bookmark and half on another. | Source
Short or long, bookmarks come in various sizes. I like to make mine short enough to go inside the Christmas cards that I'll send out next December.
Short or long, bookmarks come in various sizes. I like to make mine short enough to go inside the Christmas cards that I'll send out next December. | Source
Some card designs lend themselves to vertical bookmarks and others to horizontal like the ones in this photo.
Some card designs lend themselves to vertical bookmarks and others to horizontal like the ones in this photo. | Source

Ideas from My Thrifty Friends

  • Sandra - I have used old cards to create gift tags for the following year. I used cookie cutters or some other pattern to trace around.
  • Tammy - I bought a hole punch shaped like a gift tag and made gift tags out of the ones I could.
  • Susan - I have kept ones from every year that have pictures on them and cards that have extensive writing. I have about 20 years worth in scrapbooks. It's awesome to look back and to how children have grown or people have since died.
  • Phyllis - Just keep the photo ones, or any that you feel are special or have special meaning.
  • Ashley - I make sure I have their correct address saved on my phone.
  • Jennifer - I staple the front part because the other side is typically blank into “pads” to use as scratch paper/lists.

Hand Painted, Stamped, and Crafted Cards

When you have talented friends and family, save their cards to display again in future. You can even frame them to preserve them better.

I Save Handcrafted Cards

My sister made her own cards for many years using Stampin' Up stamps. The combinations she could devise with her many stamps were a delight and I always saved those.
My sister made her own cards for many years using Stampin' Up stamps. The combinations she could devise with her many stamps were a delight and I always saved those. | Source

Make a Christmas Scrapbook from the Cards

Make a Christmas Memory Scrapbook Using the Old Cards for Pockets

Candy McTaggart came up with a wonderful idea. Here it is in her own words:

"They make great Christmas journals to save memories and mementos in, also all those beautiful photo cards the kids are all sending now. You can easily punch holes in them with a hole punch and use binder rings (Target, office supply} to hold them together. I use a machine called a Cinch to bind mine."

You can write in little memories about the events of that Christmas season. Add a list of gifts received and given. Tell of humorous or touching things people said or did.

Candy added, "I can't keep them all but I do love looking back at past years. Especially cards from now deceased friends and family, cards from my then young grandchildren. I look forward each year to getting out my book and enjoying the memories they invoke. Sentimental me."

Candy McTaggart's Christmas Scrapbook

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Make Tiny Boxes from the Cards

Make Tiny Boxes

Make small boxes, each one uses a whole card, top and bottom. These are large enough to put candy in or jewelry like earrings or a ring.
Make small boxes, each one uses a whole card, top and bottom. These are large enough to put candy in or jewelry like earrings or a ring. | Source

Video Tutorial for Turning Cards into Little Boxes

Places That Can Use Your Old Christmas Cards

You'll probably want to remove the part with personal messages before donating your cards.

  • Nursery schools and elementary schools can use them for children's craft activities.
  • St Jude's Ranch for Children - This link has the information about it and the address for sending.

© 2017 Virginia Allain

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    • profile image

      Jane poe 2 weeks ago

      I enjoy what I see but I need more information about your crafts and the instruction how to make them

    • Allain Christmas profile image
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      Virginia Allain 2 weeks ago from Central Florida

      My mother knew how to make those little boxes and showed me, but then I forgot the technique. I was glad to find a video explaining the steps.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 2 weeks ago from the short journey

      Neat post, especially the box making technique!

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