Christmas cards are a lovely sentiment, something to make us all feel remembered and valued during the holidays, but what happens to all those cards after Christmas has passed? For the most part, they have one of two fates: the garbage/recycling bin or a drawer in which they will fester until next year when someone decides the same fate again.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Old Christmas cards have tons of cool uses, creative ways to make them live again and bring even more joy. Some of the projects can be extremely crafty and take some time, but others require little more than a pair of scissors and a bit of ribbon. In other words, whatever one’s skill level may be, there is something to be done.

So, instead of throwing out Christmas cards, consider upcycling them into something else whimsical for the holiday.

1. Framed Holiday Art

For everyone who has a box of errant picture frames in the bottom of the closet and some cards in the drawer, this is a perfect holiday decoration. Sort through those cards and choose the most attractive fronts, cut them out, and stick them in the frames. These look great dotted around the house. For added meaning, take a moment to note on the back of the card print who it came from and what year. And, for anyone without a box of old picture frames, head to the nearest thrift store.

2. Snazzy Gift Tags


In the case of the ecologically-minded but not so crafty card hoarder, gift tags are a really simple solution. Rather than going out and buying boxes of new gift tags, something that gets all of two seconds of attention, just cut up the old cards into upcycled present tags. They’ll have the appropriate holiday colors, offer interesting slices of seasonal images, and get the job done. Scissors and a bit of tape are all that’s necessary.

3. Glass Jar Centerpiece

Well, it is highly likely that those worried about how to reuse old Christmas cards are also cut from the same cloth of those who have been choosing glass jars over plastic ones. If an excess of jars and Christmas cards sounds like a familiar situation, there is a double-sword solution. Glue the fronts (images) of two cards back to back and slide them into a glass jar. Put a bit of ribbon around the lids of the jar, a sprig or two of holly or spruce in the ribbon, and place a cluster of three to work as a centerpiece on the holiday table.

4. Postcard Christmas Cards

The fact is that sometimes we find ourselves obligated to send out cards and wishes to friends, acquaintances, and family. That’s life. But, that doesn’t mean we have to be neglectful in our use of resources. Instead of buying new envelopes and cards every time, cut up old cards into new postcards that can be used to relay a quick “Happy Holidays” to anyone deserving without taking out any trees as collateral. Again, this requires nothing more than scissors, a pen, and a stamp.

5. Tiny Gift Boxes

One useful quality of holiday cards versus paper is that cardstock is stiff enough to hold its own when shaped. There are lots of easy templates for converting old Christmas cards into holiday gift boxes, which — even better — won’t require wrapping paper, which means no gift wrapping! There are traditional rectangular boxes, as well as slightly more daring pyramids and pillow boxes. These don’t require a lot of materials but perhaps a bit of time. They are a good activity while watching Christmas movies.

6. Holiday Placemats

Adult tables could possibly call for fancy linen tablecloths, placemats, and napkins, but when it comes to the kids’ table, fun and mayhem are what’s on the menu. Linen will not do! On the other hand, some newspaper (go for holiday ads) or wrapping paper could work as the tablecloth, and old Christmas cards can be glued onto a sheet of paper or old cereal box to create colorful placemats.

7. Christmas Card Garland


This is another scissors-and-ribbon special, and it basically calls for a heap of old cards and one long strip of ribbon. The cards are cut into some easy holiday shapes: stars, bells, trees, or even just flags. The cut-outs are then strung together on a piece of ribbon to make a garland that’ll add some flash to a hallway or walkway somewhere. The laziest of crafters could simply straddle cards onto a piece of string.

It’s so simple to get holiday cheer without going out and dumping a load of money on stuff that may or may not be around next Christmas. Instead, if we take the time to upcycle rather than shop and wait in lines, we can save money, ease the burden on the planet, and still enjoy the holidays.

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