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Recycling Christmas Cards

I’ve got issues with Christmas. I not-so secretly love it. A lot. I’m a completely nostalgic, over the moon, card sending, cocoa sipping, carol singing ninny. I already wrote about the cards I’ve been sending for years. There’s a side effect to that. Because I send cards, I get cards. Lots of them.

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Another little fact I love. Except I have a hard time throwing them away. Enter hoarding. Sometimes there’s family pictures or cute notes attached. Always, there’s potential. Crafting potential that I’ve never fully exploited. Because that’s another part of my Holiday Sickness. The overwhelming urge ‘to craft’.

I try to harness this energy into specific projects. Otherwise one could lose their shit with the Pinterest love. Me, I gotta focus. I am neither wildly talented nor remarkably creative. I’m also lacking in much of a crafting supply arsenal. Let’s keep the crafts to grade school level, shall we?

I limit my projects. I make garland for my mantle. Easy. Finite. Right in the middle of my house to be admired (mostly by me). Gratifying. It started with simple paper chains. I’ve done pipe cleaner snow flakes. Last year, we got all fancy with the origami. This year, with my currently brain dead status, I was lacking in inspiration. I was actually tempted to buy garland. (The horror!) Hand-made, reusable, felt garland, but still an expenditure.

Luckily, inspiration struck. In the form of the large stack of those Holiday Cards.

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Bunting. Flags. Whatever you want to call it. Easy.

I dug up the supplies from the depth of my desk drawers and the stash of garden materials (for the rope and twine).

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This picture omits the all important hole punch I ended up using to string them along.

Instructions are as follows:
Make a template from one card.
Trace it onto the other cards, in interesting ways to take full advantage of the highlights of that particular card.
Cut out your flags.
Hole punch in either corner. This doesn’t have to be all that precise actually.
String. I ended up using the garden twine and alternated, with string on the outside and the inside.

Pretty complex, huh?

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No. Maybe not complex. Or sophisticated. Satisfying, yes. I was done in record time. A little over an hour, if that.
Total cost: $0.

Crafting itch, scratched.

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Mess made.

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Cards leftover for other projects. This part was a little disapointing. I was hoping to blow through the whole stash. No such luck. Now that the creative juices are finally flowing though, I’m thinking of other recycling projects. Gift tags? Further decorations? The sky’s the limit. As long as it doesn’t a) cost money or b) require much skill. So, perhaps not the sky exactly. A distant horizon.

What would you use the cards for? Do you get the crafting urge this time of year? How do you focus your energy?

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Comments

Anne
Reply

What a great idea. I also hoard the cards we receive. My mom makes gift tags from them, which is actually a great use for them, but you can make a lot more gift tags from one years worth of cards than gifts you need to wrap, so this is a great idea for the extras!

dogsordollars
Reply

Yeah, I had completely surpassed the card supply to more gift tags than I will ever need in a life time tipping point. A brainstorm needed to happen. Although, I think additional present decorating could easily be done with certain card cutouts and such. Hmmm…

Miser Mom
Reply

Totally love this idea. For me what makes this even more useful is that it’s simultaneously a great way to occupy huge amounts of kid time.

You provided me with inspiration for another idea — to make gift wrap. Specifically, because of a pinecone gifting project we recently did, we have two large ugly cardboard boxes to wrap. I’m going to break out the stash of Elmer’s glue and do a papier-mache-esqe collage of former cards right onto the boxes themselves. Yes!

dogsordollars
Reply

An advantage of grade school crafts is kids can actually do them! This whole yearly tradition started as a day of paper chain making with my favorite (then) 3 year old. Not sure she could have operated a hole punch, but I’m betting your boys will dig this. I’m interested to see what portions of the cards they choose. ;)

And take pictures of your big decorated boxes. That could be lots of fun.

dogsordollars
Reply

Perhaps complicated, but I am thinking do-able. Love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

Tracy
Reply

Very nice. I don’t get many cards because I don’t send cards. Easy, Done.
Or maybe I am just lazy.

dogsordollars
Reply

And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. :) Not everyone reciprocates my card craziness. But, I still send ‘em.

Tammy L. (tammyluck)
Reply

You perfectly described me as well with “I am neither wildly talented nor remarkably creative.” I, too, am a Christmas card person, so I receive a big stack each year. This holiday decoration is definitely at my skill and attention span level.

dogsordollars
Reply

Thank you for bringing up the all important attention span. This could actually have gone on a little longer for me. But much more than a day or two, I start to cut corners, to get itchy about the mess, to just want to have it DONE already. Craft, yes. Take over my life, no.

Jenny
Reply

The flag banner idea is awesome! I haven’t been getting many cards in recent years, but this is a great way to use them. I have made gift tags from old cards in the past – that seems like a great way to use the scraps from the flag-making!

I also love the Holiday Card ornaments – very cool, but maybe not quite as brainless. Now if I could just figure out what to do with all those envelope-sized Christmas pictures I get…

dogsordollars
Reply

The gift tag making and the flags do compliment each other nicely. You can also get more than one flag out of some (most?) cards if you use your template right. It became apparent that I’d have way more than I needed, so I didn’t take full advantage of this. But one could end up with very little waste from the project.

Kaitlin Jenkins
Reply

I love this idea! I’ve been wanting to make a flag banner for awhile but sewing one seems like a pain in the ass, I also save favorite Christmas cards so I’m going to have to try to recreate this. I feel craftier around the holidays too. I have to select a few favorite ‘pins’ and buy the supplies for those crafts only to make sure I follow through.

dogsordollars
Reply

Ditto that on coveting the flag banners, but not being interested in sewing. In fact most of my crafts are paper focused. Fabric is a whole nother level I’ve not gotten to. Not sure I will.

I’ve been spending a lot of timing pouring over pins myself. I find its the ones I remember, that I go back and look for that are the ones I’m actually interested in making.

Liz
Reply

Hehe, it’s actually common in papercrafting to sew paper on a machine to provide a mixed-media look. But then again, I like to make (real! fabric!) quilts, so that sounds easier to me than doing anything with glue, which is sticky and feels gross dried on my fingers. :P

Steph
Reply

I love this idea! I know my grandmother has a lot of old cards that she keeps around – I’ll have to tell her about this.

My aunt & uncle cut off the front half of their old cards and tape them to packages as gift tags – they just write the To/From in a blank corner of the card.

Kar
Reply

My mom taught us to make gift tags out of our cards each year and it’s a tradition that I carry on. To make it more fun, use pinking shears and scrapbooking scissors to cut out the tags. The interesting edges look great. You can also glue the card tags onto heavy colored paper, making a border around the tag. They look very cute!

I love the flag idea, too and may have to try that this year. Glad you posted this!

Ellen
Reply

I’ve saved cards for years and we made this banner over the weekend after seeing your post. It looks great and dresses up the house for the work party we’re having this week. Thanks for the idea!

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