Holiday Planning

15 Ways to Upcycle Your Holiday Cards

Reduce Waste by Reusing Your Holiday Cards!

Picture this. It's that glorious end-of-year period full of cheer and gifts under trees. But what happens when the dust settles? What do you do with the imperfect wrapping paper? What about the extra Christmas cards you've received as a result of the pandemic? Every December, Americans produce a whole lot more trash than usual (about 25% more!). In this blog post, we'll show you how to reduce waste by reusing your holiday cards. Give these sustainable projects a go and make those festive greens and reds even greener!

1. Put Your Cards On The Table

Get out your craft box and get snipping and sticking. Our first idea is a no-brainer. Simply take your used cards and make new ones out of them. Cut out decorative elements, mix and match, and glue them onto a new piece of cardstock. Add some fancy recycled or handmade paper as a layer on the front. If you're artistic, you can even draw elements on by hand. Your new card will be made with love and have an original, unique feel.

2. Deck Your Gifts With Leaves of Holly

Cut holly leaf shapes out of your green Christmas cards to use as gift-toppers during the next jolly season. Roll pieces of old newspaper into little balls to make the centers of berries. Paint another set of newspaper pieces red to tape around each tiny ball. Now you've got an adorable floral arrangement to zhuzh up gift boxes or to glue on top of newspaper-wrapped presents. 

3. Prevent Mug Marks With Holiday Card Coasters

Here are two routes to creating awesome table-saving coasters. Your couch arms will thank you too.You can decoupage Christmas cards made of softer cardboard onto your chosen coaster material such as cork or glass. Layer Mod Podge above and below the card before smoothing it down. Or you can use mason jar lids as a base for resin coasters.

4. Run Rings Around Christmas Card Wreaths

Look for a circular wireframe at your local craft store. You need something to place your favorite holiday cards and photos on. Alternatively, you can make the base of the wreath without purchasing additional materials. Get creative with whatever you have on hand. Now arrange your cards in an aesthetically pleasing way. Use glue, tiny wooden pegs, clothespins or clips to fix them to the base. You can display your wreath in a warm and cozy space in your house all year long. Or you can always save it for next Christmas.

5. Spruce Up Your Spruce With Holiday Card Ornaments

There's an array of gorgeous trinkets you can make from holiday cards. For easy ornaments, use Christmas cookie cutters to trace shapes you can hang up. Put them on your tree by themselves or attached to Christmas baubles. You can also make pyramids to put up on the tree. With your more pliable Christmas cards, you can construct stunning 3D snowflakes. Open the card out so you're working with a bigger piece of poster board. From the short side, make about six accordion folds. Your pleats should be just under an inch wide. Cut off any extra board. Fold your accordion in half and staple in the middle. As you would with paper dolls, cut delicate shapes into the pleated paper. Open the fan and stick the ends together for a magical final effect.Your sturdier Christmas cards can be cut into strips. You can use each strip to make ornament segments of various sizes. Pinch or crease your strips and then staple the ends together. Now glue segments to each other to form intricate flower-like accessories.

6. Tag Along

Choose pretty images or text on your holiday cards and cut shapes around them to make gift tags. Now cut slightly bigger pieces of cardstock to stick your shapes onto. Punch holes at the tops through which you can insert lengths of string and ribbon. Write dinner party guest names on these creations and you'll have great table place settings.

7. Get Artsy Not Antsy

Scrapbooking is such a satisfying hobby. Collate your festive season memories with the help of your holiday cards, snapshots and some washi tape. Beyond the pages of your scrapbook, use your greeting cards in loads of imaginative ways for the sheer joy of making art. Make mosaics or mix materials for a unique end result.

8. Bust Boredom With Christmas Card Crafts for Kids

It's never too early to teach children the three R's i.e. reduce, reuse and recycle. Eco-friendly crafting is a fun activity and with child-safe scissors on hand, there's a lot you can do. Get kids involved by asking them to cut holiday cards for garlands and bunting for New Year’s Eve parties. You can rope them into helping with many of the ideas on this list.

9. Table Settings to Smile About

Use construction paper or poster board as the base for selected details from your holiday cards. These could be images of loved ones, pets, cartoons or tasteful graphics depending on the theme or style you choose. Laminate your project or use contact adhesive and you'll have placemats sweet enough for every mealtime.

10. Curl up With a Good Book

Do you always lose your place when you’re reading a tangible book? Perhaps you want to have more than one tome on the go and your lone bookmark needs company. Go ahead and use your Christmas cards to make some cute bookmarks.

11. Find Your Ikigai With Origami

Try out origami or kirigami if you have malleable holiday cards. The internet abounds with Christmas origami ideas from trees to stars and Santas, and use them as decorations.

12. Experiment With Papier Mâché

If your holiday cards aren't made out of a glossy material that repels water, you can use them for fancy paper mache projects. Paper mache can form sculptures and utilitarian products. Supplement newspaper with cardboard for your final few layers.

13. Stationery Begets Stationery

You can upcycle your holiday wrapping paper to make envelopes, gift bags and small boxes with lids. Used envelopes can act as templates for the former. Open one up and trace the outline onto your wrapping paper or thin cardboard. Cut the outline out and follow the template pattern to fold flaps. Glue the bottom flap to the side flaps and voilà! You now have something to send next year's Christmas card in.

14. Weave a Thing of Beauty

Take your colorful greeting cards and cut them into strips. Glue these strips together to produce longer strips. A paper cutter should come in handy to create 1/4 inch pieces. Line up about nine strips vertically and horizontally weave another nine over and under these. You can weave to create something visually interesting for another project or you can make a basket or container.

15. Be Inspired

Now that you've used all manner of tools to repurpose your holiday paraphernalia, you can assess the leftovers. Christmas cards that are just paper or board can go straight into your recycling bag or bin. Foil, glitter or the add-ons that recycling centers don't take in need to go in your regular trash.If you purchased holiday cards in bulk to reduce packaging waste and you have extras, donate these to charities that recycle them. The stamps on cards you receive in the mail can go to charitable organizations such as Oxfam too. Non-profits sell them to crafters and collectors alike.

At Paper Culture, sustainability is at the heart of everything we do. We love and appreciate our life-giving planet. So we want to do our bit to combat climate change and preserve it. Our products are made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper in a carbon-neutral process. For every order we receive, we plant a tree either locally or abroad. Find out more about our mission and check out our very own holiday cards. And if you have fun doing these recycling projects, consider sharing this post with friends and family. Together, we can amplify the positive effects on the environment.