23 ideas for what to do with old Christmas cards.  Inspiration for repurposing, recycling, and reusing cards received.

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Flat lay Photo of a Selection Of Christmas Cards

Numbers of Christmas cards received may be decreasing but most of us still receive a fair few greeting cards over the festive period.  So, what to do with them come January?  We explore 23 ideas for what to do with old Christmas cards when the holiday season comes to an end. 

Whether you’re looking to preserve special cards received from loved ones, explore crafty ways to repurpose the cards, get ahead for next Christmas, or simply avoid unnecessary waste, we’ve got lots of fun, simple ways to put those cards to good use.

2. Digitalise Your Cards

If you’d like to keep a record of your cards but don’t want them to take up precious storage space, photo or scan them instead.  Then you can create a printable collage, or simply a digital folder of all your old Christmas card memories before doing something else with the physical cards.

3. Create Gift Tags

This was (and probably still is!) one of the most popular ways to repurpose Christmas cards when we were children.  Jo and I both have fond memories of cutting up cards in January to create the gift tags for next year’s gifts.  A great way to make the most of beautiful cards received.

There are so many ways to do this:

  • Cut around characters or parts of the front of the card to make shaped gift tags, and add a hole punch ready for string or ribbon.
  • Create a gift tag shape / size stencil and use this to cut out tags from the fronts of the cards.
  • Use a craft punch such as these from the English Stamp Company to easily create uniform tags. 

4. Create Christmas Postcards

Rather than cutting up the front of the card to make gift tags, keep the front intact and transform it into a Christmas postcard to send next December.  A great option for a more sustainable Christmas approach.  Plus, depending on the size of the ‘postcard’, it could be cheaper to post as well, particularly if sending overseas.

Homemade Recycled Christmas Postcards

Homemade Recycled Christmas Postcards

5. Use As Notepads and Rough Paper

It’s not just the elegant front of the card that can be repurposed.  Our Mum always keeps the message half of the card as well to use for a shopping or to-do list, and scrap paper for jotting down notes.  It could well make you smile as you re-read that special message of Christmas wishes when you come to use the other side of the sheet later in the year. 

6. Never Ending Cards

Start a new tradition by keeping the same card to send back to your sender next Christmas, with an extra message added.  Encourage them to do the same, and you’ll create two fabulously precious cards full of ongoing festive wishes.  A wonderfully unique way to give new life to old Christmas cards!

7. Make New Christmas Cards

Cut pieces from your old Christmas cards to design new handmade Christmas cards for next year.  A great project to enjoy with the whole family.  A fun simple design would be to cut a few bauble shapes from old cards, stick them onto the front of a plain folded piece of card, and draw ribbon lines down from the top of the card.  The possibilities really are endless.

8. Make Wine Tags

Rather than generic gift tags, cut pieces of your old greeting cards to add to, or create, wine tags to hang around the necks of bottles you’re gifting during the festive season.  The perfect detail for a host gift, for example.  

9. Create Gift Card Holders

Another fun way to repurpose your cards as a gift embellishment is creating gift card holders.  Fold your cards into the perfect shape to enclose gift cards.  You can find more details at Organised31.com

DIY Gift Card Holders Created From Old Christmas Cards

DIY Gift Card Holders Created From Old Christmas Cards By Organised 31

10. Turn Into Tiny Gift Boxes

Keeping with the gifting theme, why not turn your greeting cards into tiny gift boxes with a little origami magic.  It’s easier than you might think and they look gorgeous.  Use the front of the card for the decorative top lid and the back of the card to create the base section.  Think Make Share has a neat tutorial with pdf instructions to follow.  

11. Make Paper Christmas Card Ornaments

Christmas cards naturally make for cute Christmas decorations.  These geometric designs from Home Cleaning Family make fun paper crafts and show off the pretty designs on those festive cards.  A great way to bring lots of your cards together into one special ornament design.  

Geometric Christmas Decoration Hanging In Tree Made From Old Christmas Cards Cut And Stuck Together

Geometric Christmas Ornament made from Old Christmas Cards by Home Cleaning Family

12. Create Cookie Cutter Decorations

As you may already know, we’re huge fans of putting cookie cutters to work beyond the kitchen!  And another Christmas card ornament option is to create cookie cutter decorations.   

Cut images from the cards to match cookie cutter shapes and simply stick them to one side of the cutter (remembering to add a ribbon for hanging too). This is a particularly lovely idea for any photo cards you may have received as you can add your loved ones to the tree.  As well as looking super cute, if you use metal cookie cutters, these will sparkle on your tree when they catch the fairy light too.

13. Decoupage Wood Slice Ornaments

Upping the ante again, you could also create decoupage wood slice ornaments, coasters, or even magnets.  A great idea for turning both your Christmas cards, and your Christmas tree, into mementos for Christmases future. 

Mod Podge Rocks! has a great tutorial for how to make these.  But rather than buying wood slices, take slices from the trunk of your tree both as it arrives, and when you’re saying farewell at the end of the season.  These decorations are a great way to showcase favourite pictures and particularly beautiful designs on holiday greetings cards received.  Vintage and retro designs work especially well with the decoupage approach. 

14. Make Paper Chains Or Bunting

Rather than creating a simple Christmas decoration, what about turning your beautiful Christmas cards received into festive bunting or paper chains?  A simple but effective way to add some handmade holiday cheer to a room. 

15. Frame Them

If you’re looking for easy Christmas art décor, look no further than your old holiday cards!  Keep your favourite Christmas cards and frame them. 

You can either choose or upcycle special frames to bring out and display at Christmas time.  Or, keep a selection of cards with your other Christmas decorations and then switch out (or cover) your usual photos and artwork with Christmas designs for the festive season.  We love simple creative ways like this for turning everyday décor into festive décor with no cost and minimal effort!

16. Turn Cards Into Mini Christmas Jigsaw Puzzles

Upcycle your Christmas cards into fun festive jigsaw puzzles.  For an easy way to do this, simply cut the image into a mixture of shapes to be pieced together.  Adjust the number of pieces depending on who will be completing the jigsaw. 

For something slightly more robust, ideal for little ones, cut the Christmas card into strips and add each to a popsicle stick.  This is demonstrated brilliantly here by Piglets Pen.  You could play Picture Pairs with the upside-down popsicle sticks too if you wanted to make even more of an activity.  

Christmas Card Jigsaw Puzzles On Popsicle Sticks

Christmas Card Jigsaw Puzzles On Popsicle Sticks by Piglets Pen

17. Make Popsicle Christmas Puppets

Speaking of popsicle sticks, what about creating some Christmas puppets for a mini festive theatre production?!  Simply cut out characters from your Christmas cards and stick them to the end of popsicle sticks (or straws).

Then let your child’s imagination run wild as they put on their own Christmas shows!  You could even use the rest of the cards to decorate an old frame (with the glass removed) for the stage surround.

18. Turn Cards Into Bookmarks

A super simple idea: turn your old Christmas cards into bookmarks.  In their simplest form, just cut a strip around an inch wide.  If gifting, or you fancy making your bookmark a little more interesting, you can add a plaited tassel to one end, or create a patterned design to the body of the bookmark.  Perfect for gifting with books you are passing along for the winter hibernation season! 

19. Create An Advent Calendar

Use your old Christmas cards to decorate the doors or envelopes of a homemade advent calendar.  You could decoupage boxes on a plain wooden calendar, or cover up the branding on a calendar you’d like to reuse.  Or simply make a picture advent calendar using the same design as our DIY photo advent calendar

20. Cover Your Christmas Eve Box

Creating a homemade Christmas Eve Box?  Old Christmas cards are perfect for decorating the outside of the box.  Either keep them to make the box during the next Christmas countdown, or create it now as a surprise to be discovered when you are decorating the house next festive season. 

You could create a collage of cards all over the box or cut out images from the cards to use.  Alternatively use a stencil to cut out the letters of your children’s names (or the whole family), and perhaps the words ‘Christmas Eve Box’ too, from old cards to stick around the edge or on the lid of the box.

21. Make Mason or Jam Jar Lids

If you’re planning on gifting homemade treats, then decorating the top of mason or jam jars with old Christmas card cutouts is a cute idea and great way to make use of old Christmas cards.  It can help hide any branding on lids as well. 

You could use the cards as accompanying labels too, with printed out or handwritten ingredient lists and instructions.  Hole punch the corner and tie the label to the jar with ribbon or twine.

22. Pass Your Cards Along

Won’t have the time or don’t have the inclination to repurpose your old holiday cards yourself?  Pass them along to someone else who can make use of them. 

In the US, St Jude’s Ranch for Children in Nevada gathers old Christmas cards (both used and unused) from across the country to repurpose in support of its programmes to help children and young people.  In the UK, if you leave near Huddersfield, Community Cards at The Welcome Centre collects cards to upcycle into new cards.  The voluntary group raised £31,000 from the proceeds of their card sales in 2023.  

If you don’t have a specific donation point near you, try reaching out to local schools, care homes, or community groups to see if they can make use of the cards in their art programmes.  I have regularly donated cards to the infant and preschool classes at my sons’ schools for craft projects.

23.  Recycle Your Christmas Cards

Last but by no means least, if you can’t find another use for your cards, be sure to recycle them if possible.  Click here for full details of how, where, and what can be recycled from your Christmas cards.

We hope these ideas for what to do with your old Christmas cards are helpful.  Which suggestions appeal to you most?  Do you have your own crafty spin on using old cards?  Share in the comments below; we’d love to hear.  You might just inspire someone else’s repurposing plans.

Most important of course is ensuring we avoid these cards simply ending up in landfill.  They are far too important for that, in every sense.

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