How to Recycle Christmas Cards

Five Methods:Gift tagsChristmas card garlandImprove plain gift bagsTurn into next year's Christmas cardsVarious projects

For those who end up with a pile of Christmas or holiday cards each season, it's not usually desirable to keep them all, so they end up in the recycling bin. However, it is possible to do a range of fun things with the cards that have greater sentimental value or simply fantastic images, so that the memories last longer and can be brought out for future holiday seasons. Here are a few fun ways to recycle your Christmas cards into useful items.

Method 1
Gift tags

Rather than purchasing new gift tags each year, by turning your old Christmas cards into gift tags, you'll have a constant supply of good quality ones.

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    Find all the Christmas cards that have been sent to you. If they don't look nice or have writing on it don't use them–– focus on the good ones that leave space for writing your message.
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    Cut the side with the picture (preferably on the hinge as you will get all if not most of the image.)
    • Either turn the actual shape suggested by the image into the tag, or make a distinctive tag shape, such as the typical luggage tag shape.
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    Punch holes in the top of the tag for inserting a ribbon through. This makes it easy to attach the tag and is a nice finishing look. Alternatively, the tag can simply be attached by tape to each gift.
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    Any left of bits (the ones with writing on and all other left over bits from the card on.) Recycle them as usual.

Method 2
Christmas card garland

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    Gather the Christmas cards. You'll also need a craft punch with a holiday shape or a simple shape like a circle, some small round stickers (all one color or a variety of colors––both are fine) and some string. If you'd like, use various kinds of craft punch shapes that represent the holiday season.
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    Punch out the shapes from the cards. If you don't have a craft punch or want more variety, trace shapes over the cards using a pencil and cut them out. (Cookie cutters make an excellent tracing template.)
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    Cut a length of string long enough to hang on a wall, around the tree, etc. The length is entirely up to your needs.
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    Attach the punched out shapes. This part is simple––use the the round stickers to attach the back of the card shape to the string. The stickers form part of the whole design, so be sure to stick neatly and center the card shape.
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    Hang as needed or tuck away for the next holiday season. You can continue to add to the garland year after year by attaching more string and adding new shapes.

Method 3
Improve plain gift bags

If you have bottle bags or gift bags in plain colors, the addition of Christmas motifs will turn it festive.

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    Find the Christmas cards with the best images. Check that the images will fit the gift or bottle bag without being too large.
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    Cut out the image. Then carefully glue it in place on the gift bag. Allow to dry before use.
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    Use to improve plain color gift wrapping. Keep a selection of nice card images in a box. When wrapping your next round of Christmas gifts, glue these onto the wrapped object for adding the final festive touch. (This will only work once the gift has been wrapped.)

Method 4
Turn into next year's Christmas cards

It is possible to make new cards from old! There are various possibilities, here are just a few.

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    Make a basic picture card.
    • Find suitable card for making your own cards. This might be new or recycled card, whichever works best. The size is up to you but be guided by the images you'll be adding from the old cards.
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    • Fold into a card shape.
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    • Choose the images you like the most from old Christmas cards. Cut them to size. Usually one image per card is sufficient but if there is a "set", decide how the images will fit and carefully arrange them. In some cases, drawing border boxes might help.
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    • Use glue suited for paper and attach the images. Allow to dry completely.
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    • Using a marker, pens, pencils or paint, add a message of greetings to the front and perhaps one inside the card.
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    • Make as many as you'd like, then put them away for next year's holiday season. Repeat each year for a great tradition.
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    Make a collage card.
    • As above, find suitable card for making a card from. Fold into the card shape.
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    • Gather the Christmas cards. Identify which motifs will go best with other motifs to create the collage. The collage can be eclectic, matching or even form a new image from the many images, depending how much time you wish to spend on it. Be conscious of the size of the card and cut the motifs to size.
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    • Using glue suitable for paper, attach the collage pieces and form the collage on each card. Repeat as often as needed for the amount of cards you'd like to make.
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Method 5
Various projects

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    Make other items. There are many other possible ways to use up Christmas cards, including these suggestions:


  • There are many decoration possibilities using old Christmas cards. Simply replace the Christmas cards for any card or paper required in paper craft projects to turn everyday craft into festive items instead.

Things You'll Need

  • Old Christmas cards
  • Glue suitable for paper
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • Storage box for old cards
  • Other items as outlined in steps

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