What to do with old Christmas Cards? 8 Simply Great Ideas!


I was just starting to clean up after the holidays and I gathered up all the beautiful Christmas cards that were sent to me. I was so blessed to receive an abundance of Christmas cards this year and I had loved opening up the mail every day and hanging the cards around the house. Some of these cards are so pretty, with glitter and 3-D details, or even just a lovely holiday scene on the cover. It seemed like such a waste to just throw them in the garbage and certainly not very environmentally friendly or “Green”. I went through them and saved some of the more special cards like “Baby’s First Holiday”, or some cards that I wanted to keep from special friends and relatives. But then what to do with this big pile of cards? I started to ask my friends, family and other moms and I was bombarded with helpful and creative suggestions, since everyone, it seemed, was looking for solutions to this holiday dilemma. I thought I would post some of the ideas here.

What to do with old Christmas Cards?

1. Gifts Tags for next year. You can cut out the front of the card (make creative shapes by following the design on the card), and then write your “To” and “From” on the back. Cut out the main picture- like Frosty the snowman, or Rudolph and then just punch a hole in it to tie on to your packages.
2. Post Cards. I am not sure if many people use postcards anymore, but if you do, cut your old Christmas cards in half keeping the picture side. This is not only a pretty suggestion, but postcards are cheaper to send then regular cards so it may save you money too.
3. Donate them for craft projects. After some research I found out that many schools, senior centers and other programs use old cards for craft projects. Contact your local library, school, senior center, church, boy scout or girl scout chapter to see if they would want them.
4. Gift Bags for next year. Cut off the front part and paste them on regular brown shopping bags (the ones with the handles) to use as gift bags for the following Christmas. I thought it was a great idea, if you have the time. This is earth friendly, recycles old brown grocery bags and Christmas cards at once!
5. Scrap booking Embellishments. Some cards are so pretty, why not save the best parts of the cards for scrap booking. Gold and scalloped borders look so nice around pictures and you can use your fancy scissors to cut out the other shapes and decorative items for your holiday scrapbooks.
6.Table Place Cards. If you either cut out strips or just use cards that will fold nicely, you can make table place cards for your next holiday dinner. Just get a paint marker to write out everyone’s names on the front of each one.
7. Have the kids make tree ornaments. Get some lace, beads, ribbon, or whatever scraps you have around the house. Get some of Alene’s Tacky Glue and glue the inside to the outside that way they will not come apart. They are super thick and then add some lace around the edges, or decorate however you like. Maybe get some glittered glue and highlight some areas to make it look like it is sparkling. Let the kids be creative! Put a hole on the edge and make original tree ornaments out of them.
8. Donate them to St. Jude’s Ranch! For a while the program was suspended, but I was so happy to hear that this year they are accepting donations again!
They accept all-occasion greeting cards. You can mail your donations to:
St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
Card Recycling Program
100 St. Jude’s Street
Boulder City, NV 89005
St. JUde’s Ranch Recycled Card Program History
Over thirty years ago, wishing to show our donors appreciation for making St. Jude’s Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year’s Christmas cards into “new” cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique “thank you,” they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program was born.
Since then, the Program expanded to include all occasion greeting cards…just about anything that starts with a used greeting card front. People from all over the world have sent us their used card fronts!
The children participate in making the new recycled cards by removing the front and attaching a new back made with recycled paper. The new card is a beautiful, “green” card made by the children and volunteers. The benefits are two-fold: customers receive “green” holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of “going green”.
The ongoing support for the Recycled Card Program has been overwhelming! The Program grew and soon we were receiving over one million cards. We temporarily suspended the Program while we redesigned the process to more efficiently manage the increased production from the increased volume.

For more information about donating your cards click here.
Hope you enjoy these ideas! If you have any ideas to share, please comment/ post them to share with our fellow readers.
Article written by Christine Miserandino, © butyoudontlooksick.com

  • Thanks for the ideas i loved this article

  • Donna Robb

    This is an idea for what to do with unused Christmas cards and greeting cards that you have leftover from prior years and send greetings to our deployed troops in Afghanistan. I am posting this in hopes you will help this group show some appreciation for our troops.

    Grandma Hugs, Connie McCue, of War and Peace Quilters in McPherson just asked me if I could help them spread a word about a project. It turns out they have several.

    1. They are trying to collect 3,000 Christmas Cards with personal messages in them to send to Afghanistan for Christmas. This means they need mailed by October 15th through November 1st at the latest.

    She asked that people hand write a personal note to include in them such as … You are not alone, nor forgotten. God Bless You, War and Peace Quilters ( and sign your own name and sentiments also ). Please add that you are thinking of them and praying for them.

    She said Thinking of you or thank you cards with similar hand written messages are good also for another project.

    2. They are asking folks to have their school or Sunday School classes make handmade bookmarks to go in the Christmas cards. So if you are a teacher or parent of a school aged student, it would be great as they have a few classes making them, but need 3,000 total.

    3. They also ask folks who crochet, or knit, if they would like to help make 3″x5″ ( yes inches ) mini-afghans to send troops to have a small pocket-sized keepsake from home. This is what they would like the Thank you and thinking of you cards to go along with. This is an ongoing project.

    Please make sure to keep the Christmas and Thank You/Thinking of you cards separated and bundled separately to make things go smoother.

    You can drop them off at the Wichita Veterans Administration in care of Bill Adkins, Volunteer Coordinator. They will be there this Thursday, September 13, 2012, dropping off more quilts, or if there are many, they will make a secial trip in for them.

    Or you can mail them to War and Peace Quilters, 119 N. Elm, McPherson, Ks. 67460 a bunch at a time. And they will get them to our troops.

    Many of us have several leftover Christmas and Greeting cards. You won’t send out as they’re what you sent out previously. Please join me in letting our hard working Military know that we love and appreciate them! Please share and repost this.

    Thank you my friends. I hope you will feel led to help these wonderful ladies show some love to our troops.

    How I got involved with this fine group of Patriots was when they gave my husband and beautiful quilt at the Wichita Veterans Administration Hospital just a little over a day before my brave paratrooper passed away. The beautiful quilt is helping me to remember my husband who passed just over two weeks ago.

    With hope, Donna Robb.

  • Tiffany

    Thanks for posting. I’m spring cleaning my files & my card file is getting bigger. I love the idea of donating to St. Jude’s and may even start scrapbooking!

  • Benny

    I had a very crafty friend that has since passed, but she use to take Christmas cards and cut them and make ornaments for the tree. They were beautiful.

  • Leonie

    At times I keep a gratitude journal & I like to decorate it, I keep any beautiful pics I have enjoyed & I stick them into it 🙂 I also make fridge magnets out of favourite cards & postcards, magnetic tape is cheap to buy. What’s left of my cards goes either into my compost or the recycling, depending on the type of paper.

  • I feel so lazy now! Mine usually go into the recycling bin, or if they’re really special end up in the bottom of a drawer somewhere!

    What great ideas! I’ll have to save some energy to try one or two of them this year.

  • Linda

    I made a basket out of them with a hole puncher and ribbon or yarn. Turned out pretty cool and then put some artificial flowers in them. Not only Christmas cards but other cards as well.

  • Melissa K.

    One more, which is easy for everyone to do: Cut a bookmark from the card showing the prettiest part of course, and punch a hole in the top and tie a pretty silk ribbon from the top!

  • Melissa K.

    As a Sunday School teacher I’ve learned to be resourceful – the children not only look at them and tell me what or who are in the pictures but I ask them to tell me the story of what’s going on in the picture, like flash cards. Some have noticed (the little whipper-snappers) that some cards show the wise men at the manger scene, when in fact they come to Jesus’ home in Nazereth several months following His birth! So they’re great learning tools.

  • Rita

    Just as a FYI be sure to read this for St. Jude’s cards before sending them: http://www.stjudesranch.org/help_card.php they can’t accept all cards.

  • Vicki C.

    Glue the cards closed, then cut out pairs of same items, (ie: 2 snowmen, 2 stockings, 2 bells), and make a “match game” for little ones. Save in ziplock bags. These make great gifts and keeps them busy.
    You can also put names/ages of the needy on back of the card fronts to hang on a tree…then pick one to buy a gift for! Better than a group’s gift exchange….

  • linda

    I use my cards for collage art, cutting out bits of color or pictures to fit what ever art piece I’m working on.

  • Dottie Balin

    Great ideas, thanks for sharing.
    Happy New Year to all “Spoonies”…:)

  • Great ideas! As an elementary teacher, I had students glue card fronts to large construction paper in a collage. The kids then wrote search clues on a blank card back and glued it to the back of the construction paper. Each project was then laminated or covered with contact paper creating a hidden picture placemat to be used and exchanged throughout the holidays. We also cut out snowmen etc. and made cards for thank you notes, winter themed get well, birthdays, and just happy day notes to stick in someones cubbie or lunch.

  • BBalducci

    Another idea for all those photo cards, buy clearanced photo ornaments. For the ones you buy gifts for or maybe you’re looking for an inexpensive gift for, put photo in frame and add as gift embellishment.

  • susie

    I cut some of mine up into strips to make pretty bookmarks for myself.

  • Linda

    Thanks for the wonderful ideas. I like the picture boarder idea.

  • Elaine

    These are all great ideas and I have mine beside me to go through this morning ! I used some last year when my FIL was in assisted living and made my own cards for him to give to all the residents at the home. They all loved them ! I really like the idea about St. Jude’s because we support them.
    How about kids making cards for the troops?

  • Kimberly Manuel

    Frame elaborate ones for Christmas decorations on the walls. Just use same size photo frame as what is currently hanging on the wall, and just switch them out when you hang the garland.
    Also if you have a glass cover over-top your coffee/kitchen table just sandwich last years cards under the glass for a easy to clean ‘tablecloth’.Happy New Year!

  • Sue/minisue

    Thanks for all the great ideas, Christine–and the rest who shared!

    Is St. Jude’s Ranch currently accepting cards (any type)?
    Thanks for investigating.

  • Christine, I loved this article. Thanks for sharing all of these ideas. I knew a couple but not nearly all that you listed. Thanks.

  • I just sent out my package to St Jude’s and it feels so good to know that these cards are going to a good cause!!!

  • Linda

    Great ideas, love the one about St Judes. Another good use is book marks or sometimes a matting for a picture or a background.
    Thank you for other ideas

  • These are excellent ideas. I often try to get my kids to do the same with our old cards although it seems more and more people are sending picture cards and those are more difficult to recycle so I’ve started a photo album of photo cards, like a scrapbook. We use the other cards to embellish the book or to make cards for teachers for the following year.
    Thanks for sharing your ideas.

  • Here in Australia the Coles supermarkets have a special “card recycling” program with boxes in supermarkets after Christmas to collect cards which I think are made into more cards for next year. So if you’re too low on spoons for any of the above great ideas, you could think about that! Anything is better than nothing.

  • Layla

    My Grandma used to make pretty lamp-shades or pretty boxes out of old-school postcards: I guess you could make them with holiday cards fronts too?
    Also, I think it’s a great idea to write on a separate piece of paper folded into the card, so the recipient can reuse the card next year! (some cards out of more ‘exotic’ or recycled/structured papers come this way anyway!!)
    In UK, there’s a take-back programme as well, though I’m not really sure what happens to the cards.. but trees are planted in the behalf of them.. and it’s probably better than throwing them away..
    Another idea is to just go treeless & send e-cards? 😉
    /and text messages or phone../
    Or use eco cards that are easily recycled or even – plantable?

  • Terra

    Here’s an idea: Make beads out of them! This may only work for the heavier ones…
    1. Cut long isoscles triangles from the covers (1 side pointed at one end of the card, 2 sides at the other.)
    2. Soak in water.
    3. Roll up to the one side point using a toothpick to roll tightly.
    4. You can use a little glue or clear nailpolish and paint them.
    5. Leave them dry until hard.
    6. use them to make bracelets, neclaces, anything you would use beads to make!

  • Jackie Smith

    Make a picture collage with certain colors to hang up in a child’s room or maybe in the office room of a home and use for decorations on any hard surface items!
    Use normal steps as cutting front cover off and gluing to the back portion then glue entire card on poster board. The picture could be framed or left unframed, it wouldn’t matter!

  • At the office I work at we collect holiday cards and give them to a particular children’s foundation that uses them to send out thank you notes for gifts they received during the holidays.

  • Charlie

    Another suggestion I read in a magazine is to put the cards in a photo album or scrapbooking album to make a picture book for little ones to look at.

  • Thanks for these ideas – I knew some of them, but have forgotten them (as I forget most things) and I was just doing the same thing – wondering what to do with mine!