What to do with used holiday cards
This year I waited until New Year’s Day to read all the holiday cards our family received.
In years past, I opened them as I received them and taped them to the doorway between our living room and dining room. I like looking at everyone’s pictures and I considered the colorful card display part of our festive decor.
Opening the holiday cards on New Year’s Day gave me more time to appreciate what each person had written since I wasn’t in the midst of all sorts of holiday chaos. I marveled at how many people still send cards (myself included; I think I sent 60 this year) in the age of social media where you can receive holiday wishes electronically, see your friends’ year in review (no need for the holiday letter), and admire all the pictures of their kids right there on Facebook.
Some of my friends had stopped sending holiday cards this year, I noticed. I almost did as well, but couldn’t bring myself to give it up just yet. There’s something fun and special about sending and receiving greetings the old fashioned way. It’s like a gift in the mailbox when you get a card. I used to run a greeting card ministry at church for many years and I know the elderly and shut-in recipients appreciated receiving them. So, I’m not really ready to let go of the tradition.
The hard part is, after the holidays, what do you do with them?
First of all, before you do anything, consider updating your mailing list and recipients for next year. (I like to be sure if someone sent me a card, I send them one as well. However, I have scaled back from previous years as I’ve lost touch with people. This is part of why I am referring to these cards as “holiday cards” – I may send them anywhere between Thanksgiving and the new year, and they may be generic for my friends who don’t celebrate Christmas.)
Save the family pictures from the holiday cards and put them in a scrapbook or photo album. Chances are you’re receiving great pictures of your family and friends. Why not keep the pictures? I had tucked all my cards into a journal years ago but the journal got too fat, so I culled the pictures for a holiday photo album. (I am not a scrapbooker, but if you are, you could no doubt use some of the designs on the cards for embellishments.)
Separate the fronts of the cards from the greeting parts and use them as postcards or craft them into new cards with construction paper. When I was a kid, we exchanged cards with a nun who did this. I thought it was clever. My mom informed me that the nun had taken a vow of poverty. She did not have a budget for new cards. Regardless of whether you can afford to buy new cards or not, it’s still clever.
Cut them up and use them for gift tags. You can create some seriously swanky gift tags with the designs and sentiments cut from holiday cards. They are often embossed or glittery. The card stock is likely much higher quality than any roll of gift tag stickers you’ll find. Add a fabric ribbon for a luxe touch.
Give them back to the sender after a period of time. This requires that you hang on to the cards for several years or more, but it’s a fun blast from the past to receive a stack of cards and letters that you’ve written. I have always had a hard time getting rid of holiday cards. I have several years’ worth bundled by year and packed up with my holiday decor. When we moved almost four years ago, I had to go through boxes and boxes of cards and letters that I had saved from my childhood and decide what I was going to continue carting around with me. (Many of these items were 30+ years old.) I gathered up batches of letters from some of my oldest friends and sent them back to them. They all loved getting their cards and letters back.
Don’t just throw out your used holiday cards. Repurpose them!