One of my favorite things about December is the stack of greeting cards from distant friends and family our postman delivers to our house daily. I love the newsy letters. I love the family photos. And I love the colorful cards which — being much too pretty to toss in the trash bin — enjoy a second life after being recycled into Christmas card crafts like the ones pictured below.
If you love crafting as much as my kids and I do, then you may find some fresh uses for your own cards in the following list. It’s the newest addition to our growing collection of 50 Things Bucket Lists.
If you aren’t an artsy type, then bundle your cards up and share them with someone who is. St. Jude’s continues to accept Christmas card donations from folks who don’t have any use for used cards but feel guilty throwing them away.
50 Ways to Recycle Christmas Cards
Decorative paper garland
Old-fashioned Christmas cards can be recycled into a charming, old-fashioned garland, like the one pictured below by Make Today Creative.
Frame pretty cards in wooden frame under glass, then add handles to opposite ends to make a festive holiday serving tray.
Tiny gift boxes
Fold a single Christmas card into the perfect-sized box for small gifts are a handful of candy. You’ll find a step-by-step tutorial on accomplishing this transformation at Spruce Crafts.
Cut down your cards to fit inside large jars lid or on square ceramic tiles, then Mod-podge it on for a set of simple drink coasters.
Cut Christmas card into ½-inch strips of equal length (4-5 inches). Punch holes in both ends of stips, then bundle together with two brass brads. Flair strips out to make a slotted ball and hang with a piece of string, yarn, or gold braided cord.
I made about 20 of these song booklets when we were first married and have been using them ever since. I printed classic Christmas carols onto copy paper, two per side, so when I folded several sheets in half with a plain sheet of colored paper at the back, I had a small holiday hymnal. Then I trimmed cereal boxes down to 9 x 12 inches, folded those in half to make covers for my songbooks, covered the cereal boxes with gold foil, and glued a gorgeous Christmas card to the front of each, and glued the colored end-papers of my hymnal inside the front and back covers.
This fold yields something between a gift card sleeve and a tiny box. Cut the front off your Christmas card, then glue top and bottom edges together to make a short tube. Once the glue is dry, flatten the tube slightly, then tuck the open edges in slightly to close ends and make a pillow shape. Put a small gift or trinket inside, then tie with a string to keep ends closed.
Cut off the fronts of cards that are blank on the reverse. Draw a short line across the blank space, address the right side, write a brief message on the left, attach a postcard stamp, and send in the mail. Great way to economize both on card and postage costs!
Gift card sleeves
What could be easier than recycling Christmas cards into cute little DIY gift card holders? You’ll find complete instructions for making these at Organized 31.
Cut a pretty scene from a Christmas card and glue to a metal lid or a wooden disk. Trim the edge with lace or ribbon, add a string for hanging, and either add it to your tree or give it as a gift.
I cut small 2-inch disks from card fronts, used a red Sharpie to write a fun Christmas activity on the back of each circle, then hook them to a length of jute with numbered clothes pins. Each day of December, we flip over the circle for that day and do whatever it says.
Staple a few index cards together with a colorful cover cut from a Christmas card to make a small notepad to carry in your purse or stuff in a child’s stocking.
Cut six different Christmas scenes from six separate and contrasting 6″ x 8″ cards into 2-inch squares, then glue onto wooden blocks in such a way that you can recreate each scene by arranging the blocks in three rows of four.
Fold a Christmas card into the shape of a tiny house, or use multiple cards to create an entire miniature village, like this one made by The Home Cleaning Family.
Glue cutouts from several different cards to make one piece of artwork. Or cut card scraps into tiny squares and arrange to create a mosaic.
Trim card fronts down to a smaller size, punch a hole and add a ribbon to create gift tags for every Christmas presents under your tree.
Decoupaged candle holder
Use mod-podge to affix a pretty scene to the side of a Christmas candle or a glass votive candle holder.
Origami Christmas trees
Fold green cards and envelopes into small triangles and stack them to form paper Christmas trees.
Cut large, upside-down triangles from the fronts of cards and string together to make a seasonal pennant banner.
Lacing cards for preschoolers
Punch a line of holes along the edges of a Christmas card, spaced about 1-inch apart, and let small children practice “sewing” them with a length of ribbon or a shoelace.
Cut fronts of cards into long, 2-inch wide strips, punch a hole at the top, add a ribbon or tassel, and use to mark your place in the book you’re reading. (This also makes another great stocking stuffer.)
Punch holes out of brightly colored Christmas card scraps and sprinkle on the sticky side of a piece of clear packing tape. Top with a second piece of tape, sticky sides together, and add a ribbon to the top for a different kind of bookmark.
Have a card you particularly like the artwork on? Put it in a small frame and display it on an easel at Christmas time.
Mason jar toppers
Cut circles from the fronts of Christmas cards to use inside jar rings for a pretty but simple way to top mason jar crafts (as demonstrated in this Family Feedbag blog post)
Glue a different scene, cut into squares, on each side of a Rubik’s cube to make a challenging, holiday version. This works best if each card you use is predominately a different color.
Combine the fronts of several cards to make rectangular placemats, then laminate for durability (like these samples seen at Adventures of Mel):
Pretty package toppers
Tape the front of a cute Christmas card to the top of a package, instead of using a bow. This works especially well when you need to stack gifts or send them through the mail.
Crocheted candy basket
Punch holes along the edge of several cards then crochet them together to form a box or basket.
Color sorting game
Cut squares or disks from cards that are predominately monochromatic, then let kids sort the disks into separate color stacks.
Treat cone ornaments
Roll the front of a Christmas card into a cone shape, staple together, add a ribbon for hanging, and fill with peppermints or chocolate kisses before hanging on the tree (or on a child or neighbors doorknob).
Two-part matching puzzles
Cut several cards in half with curved or angled lines, then challenge your preschooler to fit the halves back together properly.
Bright motifs, envelope seals, colored paper, beautiful calligraphy, and border frames all make great scrapbooking supplies, so if you are (or know) a scrapbooker, put all those elements to good use!
Paper chain garland
Cut cards into strips and chain together to make a garland for your trees or windows.
You can use this pattern as a template to transform Christmas cards into cute pyramid boxes to store candy or other small treats in.
Tuck some confetti and a small gift in an empty toilet paper rolls, wrap in tissue paper, tying it off at the ends, and glue a pretty piece of a Christmas card on the front of the cracker, then pass them out as party favors.
Cut Christmas cards into thing, ¼-inch strips, roll them up, and glue together to make pretty quilled designs to hang on your tree or glue to the front of a card.
Cut pairs of matching squares from several different Christmas card patterns, glue a piece of card stock on the back of each, and use them to play Memory or Go Fish
Glue the fronts of pretty cards to blank cards to send to friends and family, thus giving them a second life.
Woven heart pocket
Use this pattern to create pretty Danish woven hearts from your recycled Christmas cards.
You can either form strips of Christmas cards into disposable napkin rings by stapling the strip around a paper napkin and disposable cutlery, or you can decoupage the strips to plastic or wooden napkin rings to use year after year.
Cut out pictures of the holy family, shepherds, wisemen, and barnyard animals (or Santa, Rudolph, and Frosty the Snowman) to glue atop popsicle sticks and put on a puppet show.
Aren’t these paper flowers a pretty way to recycle Christmas cards? Check out the instructions for crafting the arrangement below at the Better Homes & Garden Blog.
Cut cards into teardrop or feather shapes, seal with mod-podge, and attach jewelry findings to make a set of dangly earrings.
Jacob’s Ladder toy
You can either fold cards up into thick squares or glue cards, trimmed to size, to the front and back of wooden squares, then string together according to these directions to make a holiday version of this Jacob’s Ladder child’s toy.
Fold cards accordion-style into a fan or tree or snowflake shape, glue glitter or small flowers to the edges and centers, add a string, and hang from your tree.
Diorama Christmas scene
Glue a winter scene from a Christmas card on the inside back of a small box or Altoid’s tin, glue cotton balls or polyester batting to the bottom, and arrange evergreen trees or a nativity scene in the foreground to make a Christmas diorama
Use pieces of Christmas cards as the basis for making place cards for your holiday table setting.
Decorative decoupaged plate
Cut a pretty scene from a Christmas card in the shape of a circle, glue to the center of a plate and display on an easel or plate hanger during the holiday season.
Cut several cards into strips and weave together to form the bottoms and sides of a basket.
Use pretty cards with no writing on the reverse to record favorite family recipes to share with friends and family.
Let’s Get Started
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