12+ Fun Ways to Upcycle Holiday Cards After the Season

Christmas is over but here’s something to keep in mind for next year: You may want to upcycle your holiday cards with these easy crafts. 

A collage of crafts with old christmas cards.

I don’t know about you, but I hate to toss out anything that may have a second life as something new. I have even more trouble if it’s something that was given to me as a gift. As I take down the holiday trimmings, I stack together all of the holiday cards I’ve received over the last month. I know I can come up with some great new purposes for them with a little DIY ingenuity.

I’ve put together a list of ten new uses for old greeting cards for you to check out. I have to say that numbers 1 and 10 are my favorites. Which one(s) do you like best?

As always, click the link to get the tutorial for making these Christmas card crafts.

#1 Themed Mason Jar Lids with Gift Tags

Recycle old Christmas cards for jar lid covers and gift tags for your homemade jams, jellies, and other canned goodies. See the tutorial at S.C.R.A.P.

Mason jars with custom lids using old christmas cards.

#2 Christmas Card Ornaments & Swags

Make Christmas decorations like this really pretty vintage-inspired garland from holiday cards. This would look darling hanging on the Christmas tree. See the tutorial at Party Planning Center.

A sparkly ornament made from old christmas cards.

#3 Holiday Framed Photos

You can repurpose your cards to make holiday-themed framed artwork or an advent calendar. These would look so nice on a mantle during the holiday season (or in my case, topping the piano). See the tutorial at Cherry’s Jubilee.

A picture frame filled and decorated with pieces of old christmas cards.
An advent calendar made from pieces of old christmas cards.

#4 Decorative Baskets & Bowls

These sewn card baskets are pretty cute as well. They’d be great for all those Valentines your kids bring home from school. They could keep their Valentine’s Day candy in it. See the instructions in the video below.

#5 Gift Boxes for Smaller Presents

You can fold old holiday cards origami-style into gift boxes. These work great for Valentine’s Day cards as well. See the tutorial at Kid at Art.

A small gift box made from a snowman christmas card.

#6 Upcycled Postcards

This one is so obvious, I can’t believe we don’t all do it. Turn your old holiday cards into postcards. Bonus: The stamp is cheaper and you don’t have to lick an envelope! See the tutorial at Christmas Cards 4 Less.

A stack of postcards made from old christmas cards.

#7 Trivets or Coasters

You can make a holiday-themed trivet. I recently bought some glittery mod podge that would be perfect for this. (PS: It was only upon writing this that I discovered it’s called “mod” podge and not “modge” podge.) See the tutorial at Thrifty Fun.

An old christmas card decoupaged onto a tile.

#8 Keepsake Memory Frames

You can use holiday cards to create a backdrop or mat for photos from special days. See the instructions in the video below.

#9 Memory Boxes for Keepsakes

I wish it wasn’t still in storage (yes – 4 years and I still haven’t finished unpacking) because I’d love to share a photo of one of my personal upcycled card projects. I took an ordinary box with a lid and covered it in wrapping paper and cards from my baby shower. It was perfect for saving all those special mementos from my son’s first year of life.

This project would work well with birthday cards as well. You could make a small box every year to save important keepsakes from that age. Oh man, I may need to go get my mod podge!

#10 A Card Wreath

Put your holiday cards to good use with an easy craft project that’s a sentimental—and sustainable—twist on the traditional wreath. Hung on a door or over the mantle, a paper alternative made from used greeting cards keeps wishes from your nearest and dearest close throughout the season. See the tutorial at Chatelaine.

A wreath made of christmas card paper leaves.

#11 Bookmarks for Holiday Reading

These take minutes to make and would be a great addition to any books you may be gifting a friend or loved one. Put a ribbon through the top and add some glitter for extra fun. See the tutorial at The Frugal Girls.

An assortment of bookmarks made from old christmas cards.

#12 Placemats for the Holiday Dinner Table

I don’t know about you, but I think this could be really cute if you did a kid’s table at Thanksgiving and decorated it with Thanksgiving card placemats. They’re laminated, so they can be used year after year. See the tutorial at Adventures of Mel.

Placemats made from a collage of old christmas cards.

…and finally…

#13 Donate!

If you aren’t feeling crafty, there is still another resource that will save them from the recycling bin. You can donate them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. They recycle old cards to make new cards. The sale of these cards financially supports children and families in need.

More Crafting Resources

If upcycling is your jam, I really enjoyed Modern Upcycling: A User-Friendly Guide to Inspiring and Repurposed Handicrafts for a Trendy Home. It was full of ideas that I’ll actually use. And if you have a crafty kid (I have one and we aren’t allowed to throw away anything around here), Trash Craft: Upcycling Craft Projects has some great ideas for little crafters.

Also, be sure to check out 22 New Uses for Old Pill Bottles, Mason Jar Crafts You’ll Love to DIY, and 12 Uses for an Old Milk Jug. Plus learn how to decorate for Christmas on a budget.

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A pinterest-friendly graphic illustrating crafts with old christmas cards.

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  1. I use my cards to do stitching on the card is so much stronger and its easy to do, just use the inside of the card or if i can i would stitch a border around some of the pictures

  2. I have a tag punch (that I got on sale at Hobby Lobby) and I make tags for my homemade items for craft shows. I also use them for gift tags too. They’re already Christmas-y on one side and you can get quite a few out of a card. 🙂

  3. Diana Drum says:

    I’m 67 years old and when my sisters and I were young, our family didn’t have much, so my Mom used to use plain tissue paper or colored plain paper on our boxed gifts and placed the old Christmas cards in the middle of the box as a name card AND decoration, and included a ribbon or bow. They were beautiful.

  4. I have been cutting Christmas cards to use as tags on gifts and little note cards with gifts. You have shared some other great ideas. Thank you. I especially like the St Jude idea for the cards I don’t use.

  5. Mary-the boondocks blog says:

    These are all really great ideas! Some of those cards are so beautiful you don’t want to get rid of them and yet at the same time you don’t want to hide them away in a box either. These are the perfect ideas for those special cards.

  6. Love the jar lid idea!

    One question though: You’re linking to other blogs for the tutorial and the images are obviously from those other blogs. Do you have permission from all those blogs to use their images and put your stamp on it?

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to make you feel bad. Just want to point out that the makers of the images might not like it if you took their images without getting permission.

    1. Anonymous says:

      They may be flattered them – let them worry about it

      1. Yeah, I’m always “flattered” when people steal my work and mark it as their own.
        Putting your own name on someone else’s pictures is terrible.

        1. Karen, I bet you’re a blast at parties & at togethers ?. Stop trying to ruin everyone’s charitable / holiday spirit! She obviously linked directly to the creator’s pages of the photos. Some people will stir up drama over anything…..

  7. I cut out the pics and use them for scrapbooking my pics of the holiday.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      That is a wonderful idea. I so badly want to be a scrapbooker, but I never seem to have the time. I have boxes and boxes of old photos that I really should address. Maybe a winter project when things settle down.

  8. Mike the Gardener says:

    I absolutely love these ideas! I am getting so tired of the thoughtless cards of people’s pictures. It’s nice to get some photos of friends and family, don’t get me wrong, but absolutely no thought goes into it.

    Upload your photo, choose a design, print, mail. Pretty simply. Ideas like the ones you write about put a personal touch on it. Work and thought both had to go into it. To me that is far more valuable than a photo card. It means, someone cares enough to utilize their valuable time to make a specialized gift.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I with you there Mike. I appreciate a handmade gift more than something grabbed off the shelf. If people want to give you a photo, maybe that can include it with the gift.

  9. Cheryl @ Pasture Deficit Disorder says:

    I love these ideas – especially the jar lid covers!

  10. I receive so many cards from organizations soliciting donations. I prefer to make my own cards but I just don’t have the heart to toss the free ones because they’re still useful. Thanks to you, now I can use them to help others by donating them to the St Jude’s Ranch for Children.

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      So glad to help. It’s a great cause.

  11. Love donating the card idea! I have used them as covers for blank books kids make. Religious tone for scripture that they memorize. Birds for birding journals/ plants for garden journals/weather journals. We have punched holes in corners, strung with ribbon to make garlands to reuse the following years around the room with the tree.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “Through the years….” I’ve burned a lot of Christmas cd’s. I used old cards inside the jewel cases. Now if I could only find the perfect tin to store them in the off season. I wouldn’t have to hunt them down. Have yourself a Merry little Christmas

    1. That’s brilliant! On the same line of thinking, you could use birthday cards as the CD cover when you save your birthday party photographs to disc.

  13. Angi @ SchneiderPeeps says:

    Great ideas!

  14. Erica Mueller (MomPrepares) says:

    #1 and #7 are my favorites!

    These days we get mostly photo cards. I hang mine inside my spice cabinet, right on the door. That way I see them every day when I’m cooking. Each year I take down the old photos and put up the new. 🙂

    1. I love that idea! I’ve got a mini clothes line with tiny clothes pins on my wall that displays family photos. When I get new school pictures, I can easily switch them out.