Billions of Christmas cards are sold each year — 2.65 billion to be exact, according to the RecycleWorks program of San Mateo County, Calif. When the holidays are over, instead of simply tossing out your Christmas cards, consider several green alternatives to recycle them. Here are some ideas for reusing and repurposing holiday greetings into beautiful craft projects to be displayed in your home or given as gifts.
Bookmarks. To create unique bookmarks that make great stocking stuffers, trace several bookmark shapes onto cardstock or poster board. Cut out shapes and pictures from Christmas cards and glue to the bookmark shape. Cover the bookmark with clear contact paper or run through a lamination machine to make it more durable. Punch a single hole near the top, and add a red or green ribbon to finish.
Decorative garlands. Select your favorite 12 or 15 Christmas card pictures and separate the fronts from the backs. Punch two holes, one on each side of the card front, about three-quarters of an inch from the edge. Thread about 3 yards of 1-inch red or silver satin ribbon through each card. This will lace the cards onto the garland. Hang above a doorway, window or mirror.
Gift bags. Craft quick and easy gift bags using brown or white lunch sacks and images recycled from Christmas cards. Select your favorite card designs and simply glue them onto the lunch sacks. You can use the full front of a card or cut out your favorite image. Create a collage of smaller images for a unique design. Add some holiday sparkle by outlining the images with a glitter pen.
Gift tags. Save money and resources by not buying gift tags for presents. Recycle your Christmas cards into gift tags by separating the fronts from the backs. Write your “to” and “from” on the side without the image. Punch a hole at the top of the tag and thread a 4-inch loop of ribbon through it.
Holiday art. This is a great “green” gift for the kids to make and present to teachers, neighbors and family members. Many Christmas cards come with beautiful or whimsical holiday scenes. Remove the back portion of the card. Select a complementary colored mat and frame for a quick and easy recycled piece of art.
Ornaments. Cut your favorite images from Christmas cards in shapes of circles, squares and triangles. Place the cutouts on red or green construction paper. Glue to the paper. When the glue dries, trim the construction paper so there is a one-eighth inch border of color. Laminate by placing your ornament between two pieces of clear contact paper. Press to release any air bubbles. Trim the contact paper so your ornament has about a one-quarter-inch border. Punch a hole in the top and thread a piece of ribbon so it can be hung.
Donate. Old Christmas cards also can be donated to local churches, preschools and children’s programs at your local library. These groups can use the cards for craft projects. Your donation recycles cards and saves local groups money.