Reuse greetings cards

Filed in Reuse by on December 30, 2009 24 Comments
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cards - reuse or recycle themNow the festivities are over (although this is equally applicable to birthdays, Mothers Day or any other celebration throughout the year where you receive cards), you can recycle or reuse your cards.

The Three Rs are in the order of reduce, reuse, recycle for a reason – so always try to reduce or reuse before finally recycling.

There are heaps of ways to reuse cards; you’re only limited by your imagination. Here are five of my suggestions, but as you know, I’m not exactly blessed with the artistic gene, so please add your ideas to the comments below!

Gift tags

Get a pair of pinking shears and cut out pictures ready for greetings tags. Punch a hole in the corner and thread with ribbon.


Write shopping lists and notes on the back of cards – you could cut a stack up and keep them next to the phone for taking messages.


Take your favourite cards, frame them and hang them on the wall.

Scrap store

Stick old cards in a scrap drawer for you or your kids to create from – they make great decoupage material.

Christmas ornaments

Make ornaments for next year’s Christmas trees – You can find instructions for great looking decorations on All Free Crafts. (thanks to Remuse for the link and inspiration).

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About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (24)

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  1. Thanks for this great post. I spend Christmas Day with my in-laws who have a LOT of presents and cards. The first few years I found this really overwhelming and then I decided to spend the time doing something about it – and making tags out of their cards was my strategy.

    Here’s a blog I wrote about it last year, with a picture of some of the tags:

    I’d recommend it not only for reusing resources but also for staying sane amid a crazy commercial Christmas with the family!


  2. Ailbhe says:

    I use them as cards. I use the fronts as postcards, or to make my own greetings cards later, and if there are leftovers I use those for gift tags, but gifts tags don’t count for me because I would usually write names on the giftwrap itself rather than have an extra bit. (It doesn’t count as reduction if it’s used for something extra).

  3. Shirley says:

    I enter lots of competitions, mainly by email. However, I have had success when using old christmas cards too.

  4. Poppy says:

    I sift through our cards and some I keep for gift tags, then the remainder go via a friend to the Cobalt Unit for them to remake uinto cards for next year.

  5. Julie says:

    Like others, I reuse the cards as next years gift tags. This year, however, I didn’t send a single card and asked people not to send them to me. I used email and facebook to send my xmas greetings and those who were really special to me got a phone call.

  6. Just Gai says:

    Last Christmas I bought packs of coloured blank cards and matching envelopes (partially recycled). I cut out the nicest parts of my old cards, stuck them on the blank cards and outlined them in gold pen. They looked rather attractive.

    This year I ran out of time and went back to charity cards, but next year I hope to start earlier and try and create collages from little sections of old cards. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

    PS The backs of my old cards, as well as any that don’t lend themselves to reusing, all end up in my recyling black box.

  7. Jane says:

    Gift tags is the favourite – folded ones have the written side cut off and the same with the best of the cards – one side cut off and then the picture can be stuck onto another card.

    We used newspaper to wrap in this year. It looks really great wrapped on the diagonal and then a colourful tag jazzes it up.

    I was given some presents wrapped in a plastic type of wrapping. Although I wouldn’t have bought this I actually found it very easy to reuse and have already wrapped some more presents in it. The sellotape peeled off it easily. The trouble with writing on wrapping paper is that it can make it harder to reuse and also create awkward questions. Father Christmas always reused paper for stocking presents.

  8. Ben says:

    Thanks for the tip and have a great New Year Mrs. Green!

  9. Mrs Green says:

    @Corrina Gordon-Barnes: Hi Corrina, thanks for taking time to leave a comment. Your tags are lovely – very stylish and simple and I love what you’ve written about bringing meaning into the holiday season 🙂

    @Ailbhe: Making postcards is an excellent suggestion – it means there is no envelope needed when posting things too, which helps to reduce waste 🙂

    @Shirley: Hi Shirley – great idea! I hope some of your postcards are lucky ones that bring you some wanted prizes!

    @Poppy: Hi Poppy; I’d not heard of this particular appeal; although now I’ve seen it, I seem to remember my Grandmother giving out similar-type cards; I love this idea – thanks!

    @Julie: Hi Julie, I would like to build up to doing something like that too. I’ve certainly reduced the number I send, but not got it down to zero. Well done you!

    @Just Gai: Hiya – good to see you! Your cards do sound lovely; like you say, we all need to have a few more weeks in advance to get through the amount we need. But I’m sure you’ll manage that for 2010! Do keep us posted on your progress 🙂

    @Jane: We love the newspaper look for wrapping paper too. It looks great tied with natural coloured rafia as well. Glad you managed to reuse some of the plastic-type wrapping.

    @Ben: Happy new year to you as well, Ben. I’m looking forward to seeing how creative you get with your wrapping paper mountain 🙂

  10. LJayne says:

    I usually recycle all my cards through The Woodland Trust scheme in Tesco, WH Smiths etc. It is part of the payback for buying cards as I won’t do without them. I love sending and receiving them.

    But I’m inspired by these ideas to maybe keep the best for tags – loved the link to Corinna! – and save some for craft.

    I have a whole host of cards from special occasions of the last 10 years that I’ve meant to collage into a frame so I’d better get on and do that as well hadn’t I !

  11. Mrs Green says:

    @LJayne: Hi Lesley, we saw that scheme today in Sainsburys! I’ve written about it before but never actually seen a container for the cards. A collage sounds lovely; make sure you send me a pic 😉

  12. Jean says:

    Hello! I am new to this site….thanks goes to the press for the coverage! 🙂
    Thanks for all the tips. I use any cards to make gift pouches.
    * Cut a 1cm strip from the edge of the back of the card
    * Fold the front edge of the card over the new back edge and stick down. You should have a flattened tube shape!
    * With a pencil and any object with a round edge (saucer, cup etc), round off the top and bottom of the ‘tube’ and cut off the excess.
    *Use the same object to score a curved line from corner to corner on each end then fold the scored parts inwards to get a card pouch.
    Trickier to describe than to do!!

  13. Jo Boardman says:

    As a youth leader i use my old christmas cards to make jigsaws!
    Chop them up and place each set in an envelope.
    Each child can have a go at several jigsaws.
    Alternatively write a secret message on the back before setting to with the scissors, or use them as a different kind of card for next year, by writing a ‘best wishes’ message on the back!

  14. Mrs Green says:

    @Jean: Hi Jean, welcome to the site; so glad you found us. Thanks for the great instructions about making gift pouches; what a lovely idea. I think even I may be able to manage them 🙂

    @Jo Boardman: Hi Jo, another lovely idea – making jigsaws is a great way to get children involved with recycling and crafting ideas. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  15. Tor says:

    I discovered this site after reading an article in the press at the weekend. I love all the tips and hints. I’ve just cut up all my Christmas cards to reuse the good side of either as tags or note cards.

  16. Mrs Green says:

    @Tor: Note cards is a lovely idea for your old Christmas cards, Tor 🙂 Are they for you to use to send people?

  17. Tor says:

    @Mrs Green:

    The ones that don’t say “Merry Christmas” or “Season Greetings” I was going to use as seasonal note cards to send to friends etc. The remainder I was going to use as tags for next year (just hope I remember where I put them when I need them!)

  18. Mrs Green says:

    @Tor: 😀 that’s an issue here too – I get all organised, making my own cards then I promptly forget about them LOL!

  19. Sandie says:

    Here are the instructions to make beautiful, little gift boxes out of old greetings cards:

  20. Mrs Green says:

    @Sandie: Hi Sandie; these are so pretty – Little Miss Green loves making boxes of all descriptions so she will love this inspiration!

  21. Lisa Ueda says:

    It’s almost that time of year again. Great ideas, we also like using them in our household as bookmarkers. Cutting them down to size you can get several decent sized bookmarks out of them, and punching a hole and using leftover yarn gives you an attractive tassle. It’s an easy craft for a family of bookworms.

  22. Mrs Green says:

    @Lisa Ueda: Hi Lisa, my goodness – it IS that time of year again LOL! bookmarks is a lovely idea; thank you for adding it to the mix!

  23. Karen says:

    Christmas is nearly here and the huge amount of cards. This year we are joining up with Mother and adult son to share cards. I guess I will still have to write them all. My mother always kept her cards until the following christmas so she could reply to the messages on them. The best ones I use for gift cards . The rest are used all year round as shopping lists.

  24. Mrs Green says:

    @Karen: Good luck with all the Christmas Card writing, Karen. I too reuse them for cutting out pictures and reusing or writing on the back of. The rest get recycled with the woodland trust schemes that take place across the UK

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