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9 ways to repurpose old Christmas cards

Don’t toss all last year’s holiday greetings! Turn them into a gold mine of creative ideas.

Lovely Christmas and holiday cards delight, as they appear in pretty red and green envelopes in mailboxes each year. It’s fun to open the festive cards, look at the family photos, read the newsy holiday letters, and rejoice over cheery greetings. Most recipients display Christmas and holiday cards each year by placing them in baskets or bowls, hanging them up in card garlands, arranging them on fireplace mantels, or lining staircase railings with them.

Adapted by this user from public domain artwork.

After New Year’s has passed, however, what can be done with the past year’s Christmas and holiday greeting cards?

Certainly, it feels a bit wasteful to toss such lovely images out. By recycling these resources, however, one can save on future holiday decorating and gift wrapping expenses, while helping to preserve valuable natural resources.

Christmas and holiday cards can be quite lovely and useful for several recycled purposes, if one simply use a little imagination and sense of practicality. Here are nine creative applications for used Christmas and holiday cards. None of these require any craft flair or artistic abilities at all.

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

1. Festive gift sacks

An ordinary economical brown paper lunch sack can be instantly transformed into an adorable gift bag. Simply cut the front off of an old Christmas card. Trim the edges neatly (or use pinking shears or deckle-edged craft scissors). Place a Christmas or holiday gift inside the paper sack. Fold the top down neatly, and staple the Christmas card to the front, holding the top closed.

This holiday greeting card recycling idea works very well for creating goody bags for seasonal parties.

Don’t toss those handled paper shopping bags from grocery stores or retail shops. Cover their emblems with the fronts of pretty greeting cards instead. Craft glue or staples will do the trick. Reusable cloth shopping bags can work just as well, particularly if their pre-printed emblems are small enough to mask with holiday cards.

3. Glitzy gift boxes

Skip the wrapping paper by dressing up unadorned boxes (or even brown corrugated cardboard cartons) with the addition of a few old Christmas cards. Simply cut the front images from a few favorite old Christmas or holiday cards. Paste them on the box. This is an excellent way to camouflage package labeling, product pictures, and brand names, particularly on larger, unwieldy items. Add a pretty holiday ribbon, if desired.

4. Great gift tags

Save money on holiday gift wrapping supplies by making package gift tags from old Christmas or holiday cards. Cut pretty pictures and graphics from several old Christmas greetings.

For added interest, try tracing holiday shapes (with Christmas cookie cutters, and cutting those out as well. Old Christmas or holiday cards work well, as do colored construction papers. Hand-write “to” and “from” information on each gift tag. Use a hole punch to perforate each tag, and tie it to a Christmas or holiday gift with string or ribbon.

5. Fun photo frames

Christmas or holiday cards often sport pretty graphic borders. By cutting these out carefully with a ruler and a razor or a craft knife, one can make lovely photographic frames. Simply affix a special photograph to a cut-out frame by taping the picture from the back. Why not dress up those annual school pictures for gift-giving?

6. Pretty place cards

Make Christmas dinner table more festive by creating holiday place cards from old Christmas cards. Choose several cards, and cut out small squares. Fold each square in half to make a place card, and write a dinner attendee’s name on the front. Try to position the cutting to leave a pretty holiday accent on the front of each place card, while allowing sufficient blank space to write a name on it.

7. Spiffy snow globes

Small Christmas and holiday card artwork can produce lovely snow globe images. Around Christmas time, many craft shops and discount stores offer do-it-yourself snow globe kits. These little plastic domes snap together quite easily. Cut an old Christmas or holiday card to fit the snow globe, using the pattern provided in the kit. Slip the image inside the snow globe, and snap the base on securely. Christmas or holiday snow globes make super teacher gifts.

8. Terrific Christmas tree ornaments

Some Christmas and holiday cards feature darling seasonal images, such as angels, nativity scenes, Santas, snowmen, or wreaths. Cut out these pictures, using manicure scissors, to make pretty Christmas tree ornaments. Punch a small hole in the top of each cut-out (with a simple hole puncher), and string it to the tree with yarn or ribbon.

9. Whimsical wreath

Old Christmas cards (particularly vintage holiday cards) can produce a stunning holiday wreath to display at home or present as a gift. Create a wreath form by cutting a large circle from a sheet of cardboard or poster board. Cut a smaller circle from the center. Trim the fronts from several old Christmas or holiday cards. Arrange the card fronts on the wreath form. Mix shapes and colors, as desired. Paste cards in place.

Why not recycle greeting cards all year?

Lovely greeting cards may arrive all year long. Birthdays, Easter, Valentine’s Day and other occasions often lead to collections of elegant and adorable greetings. Try these recycled card solutions any time of year to realize seasonal cost savings and save paper for holiday decorating and greetings.

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