Displaying holiday greeting cards

My wife found an easy and creative way to display holiday cards using ribbon and a hole punch. In our current home, we don’t have mantle space for the cards we receive, so, rather than cluttering up a table or other flat surface, my wife decided to implement an idea she found in a magazine. (The picture to the right is the result.)

Apartment Therapy posted a question from one of their readers about displaying holiday cards. They feature a couple of options from Pottery Barn (no longer available) that cost $50! My wife’s solution cost under $6.

There are a few Christmas specific holiday card holders available at a relatively reasonable cost of about $20. If you have the space to store them, it could be an option. For those that are looking for something they can use all year-round, then consider a display that holds photographs most of the year and holiday cards during holiday seasons.

The option my wife implemented displays the cards while keeping them out of the way. It is also cheap and, most importantly, simple.

How do you display holiday cards in your home? Feel free to add your ideas in the comments.


This post has been updated since its original publication in 2008.

62 Comments for “Displaying holiday greeting cards”

  1. posted by Another Deb on

    I like this idea because the cards are secured by the ribbon. I have been standing my cards on the top of some cabinets but they tend to blow over if a gust of wind sneaks in.

    Some years we just prop the cards in a pretty basket by the door.

  2. posted by Amanda on

    I like you wife’s idea Matt, but I really appreciated the link to Apartment Therapy because I don’t have a banister to attach my cards to.

  3. posted by Steve on

    The best way that I have seen to display a large number of cards very easily was to loop wool through a cardboard roll (the roll needs to be slightly larger than the biggest card).

    Cards can then be passed through the wool on the outside of the roll. In this way you can hold many, many cards and take up very little space.

    Works a treat, but is difficult to demonstrate without a photo. I’ll get one and mail it through at some stage.

  4. posted by Helloheather on

    We have a wire wall-hanging, designed to be a Christmas card holder. At the beginning of December, I haul it out of the basement, take down a framed picture, and put the card holder up. It certainly does a nice job of displaying them, and prevents them from blowing around in gusts, but it is definitely a unitasker. I couldn’t even leave it up year-round as a photo display, because it’s got Christmas-themed decorations at the top. Sigh.

    I really like the ribbon/banister idea. Very sweet.

  5. posted by Leslie on

    We run a string around two sides of our dining area, near the ceiling. After we all get a look at the cards that arrived that day, we clip the cards on the string with mini-clothespins. It “decorates” the dining area and we can easily see and enjoy the cards all season.

  6. posted by Tournevis on

    What your wife did resembles what I did this year. I admit, the idea was greatly inspired by Martha Stewart. I took old clothespins that I decorated by glueing slips of old wrapping paper on both sides. That’s where Marths’s influence ends. I then looped a ribbon around the stairs’ railing and I simply hung the cards to the ribbon with the decorated pins. Since I had all these things in my house already, this cost me a big whopping zero dollars. You can see what it looks like at my Flickr account. Many more cards have come in since I took the picture.

  7. posted by Adelle on

    Ever since I was a kid, we would take the cards and tape them to the doorway of one of our main rooms so everyone would see them when they walked in and out of the room.

  8. posted by [email protected] on

    We have columns between our kitchen and family room. I hang a wide ribbon in the middle of each and attach the cards to the column (using tape or you can use mini clothes pins). If you don’t have columns, you can do the same thing on a door.

  9. posted by Rebecca on

    We live in a small ranch with out a banister or a fireplace mantel.

    Currently our bathroom door is unfinished, so we tape all the cards on the front side of the door (towards the hallway).

    I think next year when our bathroom door is finished, we’ll do the same thing but use some type of non-marking stick-up material rather than scotch tape like we do know.

  10. posted by Eden on

    I have a basket from Pier One — silver w/ a snowflake design — and we just toss the cards in there when they come. I rotate them around so different ones are on top. Also the basket is big enough that photos & such can go around the edge a bit. If the address is one not in my book, I keep the envelope there as well until after Xmas. I copy the addresses, pitch the cards and put away the basket for next year.

  11. posted by Sue N on

    I use to hang my cards on our front door — until we got a new one that is too nice to hide.

    In a flash of creativity, I made a simple bow with four long streamers out of wide Christmas themed ribbon. I hung the bow on the wall, so as cards come in, I staple them to the streamers, over lapping them. If I carefully remove the cards at the end of the season, I will be able to use the ribbon again.

  12. posted by Red on

    My grandparents placed all holiday cards in the crown molding of the formal dining room and formal living room. The ceiling was lined solid with cards from friends and family. Some years they had so many they started lining the mirrors around the buffet as well. With the big tree, the electric train, cards lining the ceilings and candles in the big picture windows it was an amazing sight.

  13. posted by Allison on

    I don’t display the holiday cards we receive each year, but I do follow a tradition started by my Mom 35 years ago. I save the cards for a year (they get put in with the ornaments and other decorations and stored in the basement), then over Christmas the following winter I make a new ornament using the cards from last year. Mom started this when she and Dad were newlyweds without any money, and the card ornaments are among our most cherished (she stopped after doing 30 of them, saying that the tree was no longer looking bare!) My husband and I had the same problem as newlyweds – no money, few ornaments – and because each one is unique we treasure the three we have so far and look forward to additions to our collection! Some years they are flat, other times are 3-D. I have one made with a styrofoam ball and the others are free-form. Costs nothing except a bit of glue, thread, and glitter, or $3 if you get a foam form for the base.

  14. posted by Marietta on

    This isn’t my idea, but I really like it.
    Take some construction paper and make it look like presents taped up on the wall, and display the cards there.

  15. posted by Marcia on

    We’ve done the doorway and door route in past years, but the kids (2 and 4)have tried pulling them down. This yearI’ve found that the cards seem to fit perfectly on our cupboard doors and then look like the have a frame around the cards. Scotch tape works great and it’s cheappy cheappy too.

  16. posted by Stacy on

    The large doorway between the kitchen and the sunroom is a great place to post the Christmas Cards. I use packing tape to stick them up there and they look festive.

  17. posted by Leslie on

    I also have a metal card holder that I bought from Hallmark and I hang it on a command hook every year; yes it is a unitasker, but it folds down and does not take up much space in the storage tote. We don’t have a mantle or a banister on our stairs, so this was the best option I could come up with.

  18. posted by Kris on

    I just tape them to the front of our entertainment center, around the TV.

  19. posted by Pam on

    I also did the martha stewart clothes pin idea. I just used some extra scrap book paper instead of wrapping papper and glued it on. Then I took some twine and pulled it into a tight straight line and pushed pinned it there and pinned all the cards on it. I can see all my christmas cards and it was so cheap and easy to create.

  20. posted by Laura on

    I did the Martha Stewart clothespin idea too! I started using scrapbook paper, then remembered that I have some Christmas tape … six rolls, actually, each maybe 3 feet long, but colorful and festive. It took less than 30 seconds to “tape” each side of the clothespin!

  21. posted by Carrie on

    The ribbon is nice but why waste the time and ribbon. I just scotch tape them directly on the banister which is covered by the greenery and lights. It’s a very finished look. I also know people who tape them to their curtain rods (tab top curtains). Also, how about a clear plexi glass table top that you can use year after year and for all seasons to put the cards under.

  22. posted by Kit on

    I don’t display them. I read them, note who sent me a card so I can do the required reciprocation, and then in the bin they go.
    I hate greeting cards and I won’t look at them a minute longer than I have to. To me, a greeting card is just one more scrap of paper I have to sort through. I wish I could get people to just stop sending them to me.

  23. posted by Elaine on

    Every year my mother hung long strips of ribbon in our big dining room window and then used safety pins (IIRC) to pin the cards to the ribbons as the cards came in. I imagine she still does it, although I haven’t been home for Christmas in over a decade.

    It looked very simple & festive, especially with the sun coming through the window. (I grew up in Southern CA.) Plus for most of the Christmas season, the cards and advent calendars were the main decorations, since we didn’t do the tree or anything else until Christmas Eve.

    She has a mantle, but (a) she gets too many cards and (b) the mantle is already covered with photos.

    In our house, with no mantle and the biggest window always curtained, we use pushpins to post cards on a spot near the front door, where we usually post bills & notes.

  24. posted by Elaine on

    Oh, and we do the same thing with birthday cards around our birthdays. (Which are very close together.)

  25. posted by Cynthia on

    We put our greeting cards on our tree, where I can find room. We dont have room on our mantle either, since we have a village we put up every year. I do like the idea of the ribbon though, because the cards sometimes end up on the ground and there have been times when they are too many to put up on the tree without making it look too cluttered. Maybe I’ll use the ribbon idea and hang them from the tree. We’ll see how many we get this year.

    Thanks for the idea.

  26. posted by Karen on

    Kit–a sure way of not getting Christmas cards is to stop sending them. Because of our frequent moves and recent additions to our family, the past two years I didn’t send any cards just because I plain forgot. This year so far I have only recieved one, and that was from fellow parishioners at our new church. So…if you really hate greeting cards that much I would suggest opting out of the Christmas card exchange.

  27. posted by SarraJK on

    For the past few years, I have been draping a wide ribbon from over the mantle from the tops window casings on either side of our mantle, with a long streamer down the sides. Then as cards come in, I staple them to the ribbon. The staples aren’t noticeable, and it’s pretty quick to do that every day when I open the mail.

    Last year, I got sucked into buying one of the holders from Pottery Barn after Christmas, but I haven’t even hung it yet this year (so my cards are still in a pile).

  28. posted by infmom on

    Fortunately we have a huge mantel over our fake fireplace so we can stand the cards up on that if we want to, but some years I have tied a thin flat ribbon between the two solid brass candlesticks that usually sit on each end of the mantel and have clipped the cards to that so they drape down nicely in front.

  29. posted by Lyrehca on

    We used to tape them to the crown molding in our kitchen, but now that they’ve been repainted, we tape them to our kitchen cabinets with tape (as someone mentioned earlier). A tiny bit of effort and they are great to look at.

  30. posted by Lauren on

    We have a wire with little clips on our wall (like a clothesline) which we use as a rotating art display for my daughter’s creations. This time of year it also works great for holding cards.

  31. posted by Clare K. R. Miller on

    There’s a big, wide doorway between my living room and dining room. My mom tapes holiday cards to the top of that. It’s just the cost of tape, and it displays them really well. Anyone who comes in our house will see them.

  32. posted by Leslie on

    Hey Kit, if you feel so strongly against receiving holiday cards, you should mention it to the senders. If any of my recipients felt as strongly as you do, I would love to know about it. I would be happy to drop them from my list -save the postage and the card!

  33. posted by Annette on

    We have a red ribbon five feet long and a green ribbon the same length that we hang on either side of the entry to our hallway. I staple the cards, each one under the last one, on these ribbons as they come in.

  34. posted by Lisa on

    I also tape my cards to a door. We have louvered front hall closet doors and I tape them to those doors with scotch tape. I like some of the readers’ ideas utilizing ribbon, though. I may try something like that next year.

  35. posted by Sara on

    I cut lengths of ribbon (the standard present-wrapping kind) and scotch tape them across the front of my bookcase with a little slack in them. Then I hand the cards over it to display. Flat, non-folded cards (such as photo cards) are attached with paper clips. Note that the bookcase is a Walmart special, so I’m not concerned about damaging the finish with the tape.

  36. posted by Sara on

    Kit – Definitley let people know if you are that anti-card. They are expensive and there’s no need for them to waste the money if you aren’t appreciating it. I also agree that not sending cards will accomplish the same end, but it’s a little passive-aggressive. Personally I’m not a huge fan of greeting cards in general, but I love holiday cards. I think it’s a nice tradition.

  37. posted by Creative Triplet Mom on

    In past years I would put a big ribbon down my pantry door and then paperclip the cards as they came in to the ribbon. This year I’m just putting them in a basket as they come in. I hope to sort through them when the holiday is over and put all the photo cards into a scrapbook of some sort and recycle the cards (let the kids use them for arts and crafts to cut up and glue).

  38. posted by Cecelia on

    My mother has taped their Christmas cards to the back of the front door over the past few years. Whenever you walk by on your way up the stairs you can see them.

  39. posted by Diane on

    Use the mini-blinds…just slide them over the mini-blind slats in a designated window. It would also work with wooden / plantation shutters too. No tape, and no fuss, easy – and free!

  40. posted by wufflebunny on

    I don’t display them. I read them and then cut them up to make into future gift tags then throw out the remnants. If the card was particularly sweet/sentimental I would scan it before cutting 😉

  41. posted by Sheri Stritof on

    For years we have put holiday greeting cards in a pretty basket.

    Then each day after Christmas, at dinner, we read aloud one of the cards, share stories and memories of the senders, and say a prayer for those who sent the card.

    We continue reading one card each evening until all the cards have been read.

  42. posted by K on

    Am I the only one who puts up their cards on the tree itself? It takes a little finagling, but it works. I’ve been doing this for the past few years because as newlyweds we had a very limited budget for ornaments, and even less space to display the cards! The first few years I thought it was a little embarrassing to have so few ornaments, but now I look forward to decorating the tree a little more with each card that comes in. And I don’t have to walk slowly by the mantel for fear of knocking over any cards!

  43. posted by Springpeeper on

    Aaargh! Twenty-four years in our house and I still haven’t found an acceptable way to display Christmas cards! I don’t like putting them on the mantel (cluttery, fluttery and, besides, I have a garland there), our stairway bannister is solid so can’t tie ribbon around it, and I don’t want to make nail holes just for card display. Have tried taping up ribbon/string, but cards are heavy and the string inevitably falls down. This problem bugs me every year!

  44. posted by Kit on

    Thanks for the suggestions, but I did try just not sending cards to people. The response was angry phone calls wanting to know where my holiday spirit was.
    I tried to gently explain, because I certainly don’t want to hurt family’s feelings, but…well, what can you do?
    My packrat relatives love getting and giving cards, and they save them all. Every year the collection of cards grows and every year it is displayed. ‘Insane’ is the only word I can find for this behavior.

  45. posted by Sue on

    I have a wire card holder that is a circle, so it goes up on the wall each December and cards eventually make a “wreath”. It’s easy, requires no hole-punching, ribbon-tying, taping, or pinning. The card holder is flat so it’s not hard to store. It’s also just wire, so I could use it for birthday cards at other times of the year (but I don’t).

    I make cards so I enjoy sending them and receiving them. I do get tired of the photo cards featuring other people’s children. I much prefer family portraits, but very few people send cards that portray the entire family. After the holidays I go through the cards and save the handmade ones and any others that strike my fancy, but the photo cards generally get tossed. I have a small box in my card-making area that holds the cards I’ve saved. It’s not even close to being full.

  46. posted by Suzanne on

    I really like the staircase idea. I’m not a fan of the wire type products.

    For us, I prefer to tape them on the back of our front door. We get to enjoy and see them. And, when coming in, guests aren’t embarrassed by the opening of the door blowing over our cards, etc.

    When it was just my husband and I, most of our friends didn’t have families yet. Hence, a lot fewer cards. Then, I taped them around the frame of a mirror that was up year-round.

    Either way, it’s a must for all of my cards to be displayed. It’s one of my favorite holiday traditions and makes me feel connected to those that I don’t see often.

  47. posted by Jeri Dansky on

    What fun to read everyone’s suggestions! I have a few more ideas posted here:

  48. posted by Rita on

    I have been struggling with how to display our cards this year. Love this idea of the banister, but alas, no stairs in our house. I did get lots of great ideas from all the comments!

  49. posted by Liza on

    We have a picture rail in the dining room and a couple of years ago I (carefully) hammered some dressmaking pins into the top of the rail at about 1 foot intervals. Each year as the cards come in, I hang a long ribbon from each hook using a loop at the top, and sellotape each card to the ribbon. The advantage of using the pins is they’re virtually invisible and out of the way and can be left up all year round.

  50. posted by Peter (one of many ; ) on

    I use the most uncluttered practice of greeting cards. Don’t send any and you won’t receive any. It takes a few years to wean others from this tradition but, there is no display problem when you have nothing that needs to be displayed. Greeting Cards are clutter!!!

  51. posted by susan on

    My brother-in-law sets a tomato cage upside down on the buffet in their dining room, tapes the three “legs” together and attaches their Christmas cards to it. It makes for a very pretty display and only takes a few seconds to tape an incoming card to it. I also like the idea of using an item that most gardeners have in storage during the winter.

  52. posted by In the Loop - Great Christmas Links « Lifestyles of the Organized on

    […] Unclutterer offers a unique idea for Displaying holiday greeting cards. […]

  53. posted by Christmas Card Display | Mommy Points on

    […] Unclutterer uses decorative ribbon and a hole punch and ties the cards to their bannister. […]

  54. posted by Crystal on

    I like to wrap a bulletin board in gift wrap paper, then use tacks to stick the cards onto it. The wrapping paper hides the cork, and makes a festive background.

  55. posted by KP on

    Kit, “bahhumbug!” You should feel blessed that you have so many people in your life that care enough to think about you and send you cards. There are plenty of lonely people out there that would love to know that so many people were thinking about them.
    I always display our holiday cards by taping them in an attractive pattern on a blank wall in our house. It reminds me for the whole Christmas season how fortunate my family is to have so many friends and loved ones!

  56. posted by Karen on

    I’m not displaying my cards this year — not enough time at home, not worth the effort — but I usually just string up some thin wire garland, the kind with mylar stars hanging off of it, and attach the cards to it with pretty binder clips. All the parts fit into one section of my ornament box, and if I ever want new garland, I’ll use the old one on presents.

  57. posted by DJH on

    I use small magnets I purchased from Michaels and hang ours on the fridge. No messy tape residue to clean when they come down.

  58. posted by Kari on

    For life beyond display at the holidays, here are a few ideas.

    I’ve heard of people who keep them in a basket and pull a new one forward every week or so throughout the year and then use that as a reminder to pray for the person or people who sent the card.

    I’ve covered cardboard boxes with Christmas card fronts and then use those boxes to store Christmas decorations. They’re easy to spot in our loft when it’s time to take the boxes down.

    And, I’ve seen placemats made with old card fronts glued together, the whole thing then laminated.

  59. posted by Maria on

    What about punching a hole in your cards and stringing them on to a pretty ribbon and then using your curtain rods to tie the ribbon on to. This way your cards create a swag affect on the window.

  60. posted by Her from There on

    My solution is free. I open the card and slide it over the horizontal slats of my blinds. Of course you have to choose to sacrifice a window that you’re not going to miss opening the blinds on, but it works for us, as we have a long but narrow window that we don’t need to open the blinds on. Yes, some of the cards are then horizontal when they should be vertical but again, it doesn’t bother us. It’s also very easy to remove them as they slide right off when you want to collect them.

  61. posted by Terrapin on

    Insert the back half between books, leaving the fronts facing securely outward from the bookshelves. What could be simpler ?

    (do people still have – books, on shelves ?)

  62. posted by Jtwink on

    Another hint for Kit and anyone else who gets overwhelmed with cards – have you tried sending e-cards? I’m retired and don’t have much budget room for postage, but you can find free or inexpensive e-cards at many sites. I send paper cards to older friends and family who don’t have computers, and for the rest I select one beautiful e-card each year and send it to everyone on my list. I’ve received many compliments on them, along with catch-up replies which are always welcome.

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