Saving Paper Twice: Using Environmentally Friendly Holiday Cards

by Henry L. on September 19, 2011

Every year around the holidays, we all send out dozens (sometimes even hundreds!) of greeting cards. Usually, we save some, display some on the mantle or the fridge, but most of them end up in a pile to be recycled. I began buying environmentally friendly holiday cards in order to make my efforts to be festive a little more green, but I still ended up recycling so many holiday cards that I received. It seemed so wasteful that I had almost given up on sending holiday cards and decided to send e-cards instead. Then I went to a friend’s house during the holiday season, and she had streamers made of cards strung up throughout her house. At the top of every doorway and even hanging from one window sill, she had ribbons strung which were holding old greeting cards. I was amazed at her ingenuity in re-using old Christmas cards as decorations. Her idea only works for horizontal cards, however, so I began to give some thought to new ideas of re-using greeting cards to decorate. This is the list of ideas I’ve come up with over the past two holiday seasons:

•    Holiday Postcards:  If I receive a holiday card which only has writing on the one panel inside, I cut the front off of the card and use it as a postcard. I draw the lines and boxes on the blank side and leave the design from the front of the card as the front of the postcard. Then I can mail someone a Christmas postcard! It costs less in postage, too. If the card design is a photograph with no writing on it, many times it is suitable for all occasions, not just holidays.

•    Holiday Streamers: My spin off of my friend’s idea was to create streamers from all kinds of cards: vertical, horizontal, even photo cards. I simply punch a hole in the top and bottom of each card and string a ribbon through the holes. The ribbon covers the back of the card so that the front design can be seen when the streamers are hung. In order to avoid the streamers being too heavy, I usually cut the card in half if it is a folded card and use only the designed half. These streamers look beautiful all over the house, and they can be used year after year. The greatest part is that you’ll never run out of materials!

•    Paper Ornaments: For those of you who want to be even more creative, you can cut ornaments out of old greeting cards. Simply make a stencil of a holiday-related object, such as a candy cane, a stocking, a Christmas tree, a dreidel, a snowflake, or any object that relates best to your holiday traditions. Using the stencil, you can cut out many matching and non-matching objects out of received greeting cards. We decorated our tree with these paper ornaments last year and they looked beautiful! This is a great, easy craft to do with children, and then you can let them color on the blank side if they wish. You can even use a little glitter glue on the edges to make it extra special.

Being eco-friendly can be so much fun, and it can be a money-saving adventure in these trying times. Kids love craft projects, especially around the holidays, and even more so when they know you’ll be displaying their beautiful artwork around the house. These ideas are just a starting point. If you think of more great craft ideas to re-use recycled greeting cards, please comment below and let me know. Happy Recycling!

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin September 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm

If a card has a snowflake or other single item on the front, you could cut it out and punch a hole in it and use it as a gift tag on a present. Or let the kids make holliday collages out of the old card designs. I’m having visions of macaroni being glued to a wintery scene on a card, with glitter and the works! Sounds like a great art project idea to me.

Shannonm September 21, 2011 at 4:36 pm

While reading this blog I had an idea on how to resuse old greeting cards. I’m sure charities such as The United Way, American Red Cross, and The Salvation Army could resend these cards out to their various donors each year. As long as the cards aren’t personalized you could call a charity and see if they want to use them. Not only are you helping a good cause but you are being “green” as well.

Skyler September 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm

Ok, this is a bit off the beaten path but I was at a memorial service and the person who passed loved sending and getting cards and apparently never parted with a single one that was sent to her. My friend go the idea to take all of her grandmother’s christmas cards, birthday cards that was sent to her over th years etc. and gather them all up and display them at the memorial service to show how many people loved her grandma. I have to say, when I saw the display it was pretty amazing and everyone was commenting and looking at the cards. Pretty cool.

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