Stop holiday card clutter in its tracks

What do you do with your cards after the holidays have passed? Do you keep them on display for a while or put them away in a box? Do you throw them out? When the holiday season comes to a close, you may find it difficult to part with them. If you’re not quite ready to let them go or not sure what to do with them, they can easily clutter your space. Instead of them taking over the top of your dining table or whatever surface they’ve landed on, consider using them in different ways so that you an extend their usefulness.

Make digital copies

Digitizing your cards may be a nice option especially since you can use your favorites as desktop screen savers. You can scan them and continue to enjoy them long after the season has ended and not have to worry about them cluttering your home or office. And, when you decide that you no longer want them, uncluttering will just be a few, quick clicks away.

A fun idea I’ve seen linked to numerous times on Pinterest is to snap pictures of family photo cards you receive with your smart phone and link the images to your contacts so the appropriate picture appears when you get a call. Ashley Ann Photography has a tutorial on her site for how to do this project yourself (the tutorial begins halfway down the page, so you’ll need to scroll).

Donate your greeting cards

Did you know that you can donate new and used holiday cards? The St. Jude’s Ranch for Children accepts used all-occasion greeting cards year-round. Children who participate in St. Jude’s Kids’ Corp. program use your old cards to create new cards for sale. Also check with your local community and senior centers, schools, and after-school programs to find out if they have a need for writing and craft projects.

Make something new

Used holiday cards can be transformed into holiday postcards. Whether you’re sending your usual holiday greetings or participating in Holiday Mail for Heroes, you can host card-making parties and involve friends and family in the card-making process.

Last week, I mentioned that you can make something fun with orphaned socks. Well, you can do the same with holiday cards, too. Indulge your creative side and make gift tags (Instructables has a tutorial), paper ornaments, placemats, magnets (using photo cards), book marks, or game and puzzle pieces.

Frame your favorites

Why not frame the cards you love? Pick a spot on a table or wall to display your favorite ones. If you have several cards that are meaningful to you, consider using hinged frames (like the Easy Change Artwork Frame) so that you can easily rotate the cards you’d liked to display. Depending on the size of the frame you use, you may also be able to include multiple cards at one time.

No matter how you choose to repurpose the holiday cards you’ve received, remember that you can be creative with ways to get more enjoyment from them. Just be sure that they don’t end up cluttering your home or office. And, don’t forget, you can always trash and/or recycle them.

22 Comments for “Stop holiday card clutter in its tracks”

  1. posted by Lindsay on

    Every year, I take out last year’s Christmas cards and cut them up to make gift tags for this year’s gifts. Great way to use old cards, and save money on tags.

  2. posted by Susan on

    For a generation I have taken the photos that come with cards and add it to my Christmas album. Each family has a page which makes it easy to see the changes through the years.

    The paper cards are made into to and from tags the following year as Lindsay said, but I do it so that there will be less in the landfill and to enjoy the satisfaction of “creating”.

  3. posted by Jennifer H on

    I will definitely be sending cards to St. Jude’s – thanks so much for the tip!

  4. posted by Shannon on

    Another vote for turning them into gift tags!

  5. posted by Lisa on

    I’ve saved them in a basket for years. I’ve just started taking the cover of the card and making it into a journal page as I journal about December and celebrations and Christmas. Repurposing, I guess.

  6. posted by Jenny on

    To display mine, I put them on my kitchen cupboards. I have dark wood cupboards (rental kitchen), and I put a Christmas card in the center of each one, and then put handmade paper snowflakes around the outside.

    This is also nice because it gives me a limited number I can use. This way I just keep my favorites (either because of the giver or the picture on the card). I might have to try turning some old ones into gift tags, although I usually just use scraps of wrapping paper for this.

  7. posted by Jo on

    I take old cards and postcards into school for craft; specially nice ones I slip into our books. eg a postcard of an owl might go in a bird book. It’s lovely to take out a book and find an old card in it, and it means that all of our books are starting to acquire their own bookmarks.

  8. posted by Victoria on

    I keep mine for one year, until the following card writing time. I then go through them and have a smile and a chuckle at some of the notes written inside. More importantly I can check that I’ve not missed anyone when I’m writing my following year cards (although I do have a spreadsheet for this too), and once that job is done I cut them up for tags. I know that might be considered clutter for one year, but I put them in a box along with seasonal decorations and they take up a minimal amount of room.

  9. posted by Brenda on

    Our child brought home a collage of Christmas cards that he had designed and his 1st grade teacher laminated. We used it as a placemat for many years.

  10. posted by Another Deb on

    I use my decorative punches to make embellishments for the cards I make. I also do the bookmark thing and love that each book has a bookmark from a special card.

    Really, I don’t get many cards anymore. Not enough to devote time worrying about them.

  11. posted by Ben on

    Our family went to dinner at a friends house over the weekend and saw that they had scotch-taped all their cards to the inside of the front door so we borrow the idea from them.

    We like being able to see the cards as we come and go throughout the day. First week of January, we scan and sort the letters and pictures so we can get rid of the paper items.

  12. posted by Monica on

    My neighbor binds them together with metal rings. She makes a “book” at the end of the year with that year’s card. She displays them on her coffee table each Christmas.

  13. posted by purpleBee on

    It seems I’m the only poster her who puts all the cards in the recycling. Usually the first week of January and they’re gone.

  14. posted by Jekaterina on

    Great tips! I didn’t know that I can donate cards to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. I think this is a lovely way of passing the cards along.

    I used to keep cards in a box and just recently organized them. Every year I get a card or two from my family in Europe, and the cards from there are just so beautiful that scans wouldn’t do them justice (at least, for now this is how I feel). I have a binder for just Xmas and New Year cards and glue each card onto a solid color cardstock, and then place it in a sheet protector. My family normally fills out cards with their wishes and thoughts, so it’s really nice to re-read them. I might eventually scan them. Very rarely, I will recycle cards that aren’t as special.

  15. posted by PH O'Neill on

    Pretty much everything without a picture goes in the recycling after New Years.

    The ones with pictures are usually people we care about, so I cut the pictures down and put them in a little 4×6 flip photo album. My kids can look through the photo album at pictures of their family members and buddies whenever they want.

  16. posted by Sue on

    purpleBee, you are not alone.

    I’m a card maker, and a few of the cards I receive are hand made. Those I keep. I have a single shoebox where I store cards from year to year, and I have a hanging display in my craft room that I switch out seasonally.

    The rest of the cards I receive are recycled Jan 1st. Most are photo cards and can’t be repurposed or donated to St. Judes. I have no desire to keep pictures of other people’s children, most of whom I have never met.

    I have a wire display wreath. The cards I receive are nicely displayed during the holiday season.

    This is one area where I don’t actually have a clutter problem. :)

  17. posted by Sue on

    Since the photo card took over, most don’t even have a hand-written note for me to enjoy in future years. Facebook has all but eliminated the family newsletter. Cards are so much more impersonal these days, even though most are photo cards. Most of the photo cards are just the kids. I guess adults don’t count.

  18. posted by Ann on

    Must we digitalize everything? Will we have a site in the future about uncluttering our digital worlds? Keep a card you like or love, toss the rest. Or toss them all and use your mind to remember and enjoy the good ones.

  19. posted by CJH on

    As others have mentioned, I also cut the fronts into bookmarks. I do this with my birthday cards, too. Somehow they get used, lost or discarded so it’s nice to have a little stack of bookmarks on hand in my coffee table drawer.

    I have been cutting out pictures of manger scenes, wisemen, shepherds and angels from Christmas cards for years with the intention of making tree ornaments with my grandchildren. That little box holds 20-30 pieces now, and the little grandkids are approaching the age of crafting. Honestly, this is just about the only thing I save (oh, except quilting fabrics!) with the intention of “doing something with it someday.”

  20. posted by Nana on

    Years ago, I worked in show biz and got cards from real live movie stars. Each year, on 1/1, I sent ‘em to my mom. She would ever-so-casually put them out with her cards the next year…’oh, yes, we got such a pretty card from Veronique and Gregory Peck this year’

    And I got a note from St. Jude’s, years ago, saying they were inundated and didn’t want more cards!

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    posted by Nina on

    I agree with Ann – digital clutter is still clutter. And while it might not take up a lot of physical space it can still cause mental clutter.
    I also get rid of any cards I receive after X-mas.

  22. posted by Dawn on

    I have a friend who puts them on a basket on her table at the new year and before dinner each night, they pick one and pray for the family who sent the card. Then she’ll cut the card at the crease, creating a postcard and send a little note to the original sender.

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