Reusing Your Christmas Cards

by Catherine Shaffer on 28 December 2007 5 comments

After the holiday dust settles, the question of what to do with received Christmas cards can induce fits of guilt. I am sure that there are some super-organized people out there that file each and every Christmas card by year and by the name of the sender, and get them out periodically to reminisce. The hypothetical existence of these people makes the rest of us twitch when we attempt to toss our old cards in the trash. Thus begins the shadow life of the Christmas card--buried in a drawer somewhere, fallen on the floor under the desk, stuffed in a box and stored in the attic or the basement. Some of us feel okay about tossing them in the recycling bin. That's environmentally friendly, right? But still it feels rather disrespectful.

What if there was a way to honor the beauty and intentions behind your received Christmas cards, while at the same time allowing you to get rid of the darned things without guilt? By cannibalizing the cards your friends and family send you, you can save your conscience, save the earth, and save a buck.

This all started with my annual December 26 bargain hunting mission. On this day each year, I purchase cards for the following year. The cards I liked best this year were sets of "make your own" blank cards that come with decorations you can glue on (I got them from Dollar Tree on 50% off clearance). I thought it would be fun to send a unique hand made Christmas card to everyone on my list next year.

When I got home, I couldn't wait to get started. I don't usually have time to spend an afternoon playing around with scissors and glue, so it was quite a treat. I learned early on that with home made Christmas cards, less is more. This Christmas card started out looking pretty good. Then I went and glued on some gold sequins. Notice the strings of hot glue and the uneven spacing? Don't do that. I'm going to have my son inscribe this one. That will render it from pathetic to adorable.

Messy Santa Card

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

A lot of my cards turned out pretty nice, though. And if they looked home made, it was in a good way. Soon, I was out of ideas. I had a little square of gold-foil covered cardstock I wanted to use, but nothing to stick on top of it. Glancing around, my eye fell on the display of Christmas cards in our dining room. It wasn't long before I found the perfect image to glue on top of my gold foil, and I came up with this:

Mary, Joseph, Jesus Card

It was my nicest card. I found many other pictures and motifs to reuse among our collection of cards.

To make your own cards, you can start with a kit like I did. (Promise me you will only buy them on clearance, though.) Or you can use a nice heavy paper or cardstock. In addition to pieces cut out from other cards, you can use stickers, rub-on ornament decorations (I had good luck with these), craft foam shapes, glitter glue, crayons, feathers--really, the sky's the limit. This is a great project for kids, and you can work them at it, sweatshop style, during those long winter, spring, and summer vacations. ("Make another one for Aunt Violet, and this time I want you to really feel it!")

Now I suppose you could argue that buying ready-made cards is just as cheap. And you would be right. But cards left over after Christmas tend not to be the cream of the crop. Sometimes the designs are cheesy. Or, the design might be beautiful, but the message inside too religious, too secular, or simply too weird to actually send to all of your friends and family. By creating my own cards I am able to send my loved ones exactly what I want them to have, which is a holiday greeting that will make them feel loved and appreciated. And if the card they receive is a frankensteinian re-creation of a card they themselves sent, it just might make them smile, too. Best of all, what to do with it is now their problem.

Additional photo credit: Catherine Shaffer
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Guest's picture
~Dawn

I am holding onto the ones I got from family and friends and am going to cut out the picture and place it on card stock and send it back to them.
As for the envelope, I think I can make my own or even use a classy seal to keep the card together when it is mailed.

Guest's picture
Wendy

Any left over cards can be turned into gift tags. Cut out the picture on the front (unless there is writing on the other side). Then use a hole punch and a piece of curling ribbon to make a really nice tag. Kids can help and you can store them with the wrapping paper and ribbons for next year.

Will Chen's picture

Wonderful suggestions!

Welcome to Wise Bread Catherine.  =)

 

 

Guest's picture

Great Post! Thanks for the idea.

Guest's picture
Guest

I really like the idea of re using my old cards. Does anybody know if it is legal to sell them?? I would like to sell mine at the annual craft faire we have through work every year. And at the farmers market. Just wondering what the copyright laws are about selling them. thanks. please e-mail me with your answer, chicochick1@sbcglobal.net