Recycling Christmas cards ideas – 22 easy ways to reuse them
Try these easy, eco-friendly ways to reuse your old Christmas cards. Why throw away your old cards when you can give them a new lease of life by upcycling them?
Whether you're looking to live a waste-free life or just want to live a little greener in 2021, there's no reason to chuck your used cards when you can refashion them! Recycling your Christmas cards will not only give you the satisfaction of a clear conscience but it'll also give you more materials for all your papercraft projects. A staggering 200 million boxes of Christmas cards are brought in the UK every year, leaving many of us with the dilemma of how to clear up after Christmas without chucking things into landfills or our recycling bins. We're here to give you some fun recycled Christmas card ideas so you can turn that holiday cheer into pretty and practical items. When we arrive in January (or on Boxing Day if you're one of those types who take down Christmas at the first opportunity) pick your favourite recycled Christmas card idea from our collection and turn those cards into something beautiful.
We've gathered over 20 clever and ingenious ideas for recycling Christmas cards that will use your craft skills in the best way possible. Although you don't actually need craft skills to try most of the suggestions in this round up – we've picked them to be easy for anyone to try. There's everything from DIY Christmas tree decorations to Christmas bunting tutorials to help you make 2022 the most eco year yet. Once you've mastered these recycled Christmas card DIYs make sure also check out our eco-friendly Christmas crafts!
What can I make out of old Christmas cards?
- Gift tags
- 3D paper decorations
- Paper wreath
- Advent calendar
- Desk storage pots
- Make a mini paper village
- Fold into gift boxes
Christmas card recycling crafts to try
Make Kraft gift wrap for next year
Reach for your scissors and snip up your cards to highlight your favourite Christmas artwork and designs, then layer these up with Kraft card to make simple gift boxes, cards and tags for next Christmas! Our guide to How to make a hexagon gift box shows you how.
Make Christmas coasters
Ooh yes why have we never thought of this? Thankfully Craftsy have – it's one of 7 Fun Ways to upcycle your holiday cards that they've come up with. You just need some simple white tiles and a couple of store cupboard basics to make magic happen.
Sew together a sustainable garland
The lovely team at Mollie Makes show you how to recycle your Christmas cards into this sustainable garland. They show you how to use your sewing machine to stitch the pieces together and create this 3D effect. Sew up some garlands for your New Years Eve party for some DIY party decorations.
Make fun Christmas card puzzles
This is such a sweet idea – thanks to Piglets Pen who shared this super cute make on Instagram. Stick your favourite cards on to lolly pop sticks (you can either recycle these too from your freezer or buy a pack of 200 for £2.99 over at Baker Ross). Now cut between the sticks and you have our very own mini puzzles! They'll make cute Christmas cracker fillers or stocking fillers for the 2021 Holiday Season, not to mention fun games for kids to play over the Christmas holidays.
Super simple mini bunting idea
Looking for quick crafts to do over the Christmas holidays? Snip up your Christmas cards, then fold and string them up into sweet miniature bunting! In Habitat has the DIY for you.
Cut and fold them into geometric baubles
Christmas cards are a great source of decorative card to fold festive shapes out of. We've got this Free geometric baubles template to get you started making your own gem-themed decorations.
Make Cookie Cutter Tree Decorations
We discovered this lovely little upcycling idea over on the Blinds 2 Go blog. Use your old cards to dress up cookie cutters to make tree ornaments or stand alone decorations for your home. Head over to their blog to find the full tutorial for how to make upcycled cookie cutter decorations.
Transform them into a bowl
My So Called Crafty Life has come up with this really quite beautiful DIY Vintage Christmas Card Bowl DIY and it works just as well with glorious vintage designs like the ones here or with your favourite 2020 card patterns too! Add blanket stitch detail to the edges for extra homespun vibes!
Turn them into paper pine cones
We cannot WAIT to get started transforming our cards into pretty papercrafted pine cone decorations to replace our Christmas decorations this January! Find out how to make paper pine cone decorations here.
Make your own Christmas Card Note Pads
This is a lovely little idea for reusing all those beautiful Christmas cards which it's a crying shame to throw in the bin. We've found this really lovely online tutorial for how to turn old Christmas cards into note pads, thanks to Jennifer at Hope Studios.
Make your own gift tags
A classic refashion idea – cut or punch your Christmas cards into tag shapes for next year's Christmas gifts. You can create simple tag shapes by cutting a rectangle, then snipping triangles away from two corners and punching a hole in the top, or you can also get some pretty nifty Tag Paper Punch to make light work of it for you. Simply Living Green With Rebekah shows you how in more detail.
Cut into pieces to frame your favourite Christmas photos
If you weren't able to spend Christmas with your family this year, or maybe you want to capture the year that we all had to bubble up over Christmas, print out a few snaps from Christmas day and decorate them with a frame decorated with festive elements, cut from your Christmas cards. His idea is from a round-up of Creative Ways to Reuse Christmas Cards by Sachse News.
Fold them into teeny tiny gift boxes for next year
Hallmark's Think. Make.Share blog has got this really easy DIY for turning your old cards into teeny tiny gift boxes for next year, including a free template to give it a go.
Fold them into mini paper houses
Try our sweet DIY for how to make tea light houses out of card and use your Christmas cards as the basic card that you make them out of (use battery-powered tea lights inside for safe results!). Whip up a batch of 24 houses this way and you'll have a cute advent village for next year.
Upcycle them into clever bookmarks
Lori Miller Designs has come up with a handy template and tutorial for how to take used Christmas cards and turn them into sweet festive bookmarks! How to turn Christmas cards into bookmarks
Make a poinsettia garland
Cut your cards into petals to make a papercraft garland to decorate your home next Christmas! While our example is made from plain card we think this would look lovely cut out of assorted festive card with petals filled with Christmas motifs and prints! Free poinsettia garland templates.
Turn them into 3D tree ornaments for next year
This neat idea ticks two of our favourite craft boxes – traditional feel and great to get kids involved with too! You simply cut up your cards into circles then do a few clever folds and glue them together to form 3D paper baubles! Find the full tutorial over at What's Up Fagans?
Snip them up into a star wreath
We love this tutorial from French blog and party store Fêtes vous meme – cut or punch shapes from your favourite cards and turn them into a papercrafted wreath! Quick warning though, if you don't speak French then it's best read in Google Chrome or another web browse that offers you translation into English!
Upcycle all that sparkle into clever origami stars
We found this idea for reusing your old cards and turning them into 3D stars on Salihan's Flickr – see her Star Mediation blog at Salihan.com – this would work nicely with any origami projects that you fancy having a play around with over the Christmas period. For more ideas, try these Easy Origami Ideas for Beginners.
Grow your own Christmas card trees!
Loving this cute idea from Better Homes and Gardens. Trim up your cards into a batch of circles and then layer them up for cute decorations for Christmas 2021!
Pick your top 24 to make an advent calendar
Crafty Nest is taking her Christmas card upcycling to the next level with this clever DIY Upcycled calendar tutorial.
Christmas card paper chains
Cut your Christmas cards into thin strips then turn them into place cards and paper chains for next year! We show you how to make Christmas paper chains here on Gathered but you could make this tutorial even more eco-friendly by using recycled Christmas cards.
Where can I recycle Christmas cards?
If you don't think you'll have time to try these upcycling ideas this year, fear not – Christmas cards and envelopes are ripe for recycling too. While regional guidelines here in the UK do vary between counties, at their core Christmas cards are made of, well... card and paper. So with a bit of thought you should be able to recycle them via your green bin or local household recycling centre. Any embellishments, ribbon or glitter cannot be recycled though, so you'll need to remove those first. Find more good advice for how to recycle your cards over at Recycle Now. Check your local council waste recycling guidelines and they should include guidance on what they will and won't recycle under the category of "paper and cardboard".
We hope you try recycling your Christmas cards this year! For more eco-friendly tutorials and projects make sure you check out our reusable crochet makeup remover pads and our knitted dishcloth pattern.
Zoe is the launch Editor of Gathered.how. She has over a decade of craft publishing experience under her belt. She's a quilter and sewist who works with the UK’s best-selling craft magazines including Today’s Quilter, Love Patchwork & Quilting, Simply Sewing and The World of Cross Stitching. Zoe loves being immersed in Gathered’s quilting content, tweaking our tutorials and publishing new patterns. Zoe has previously written for radiotimes.com, Simply Knitting and The World of Cross Stitching and was previously Deputy Editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine. She has guest-lectured at Bath Spa University. She’s a keen quilter with 5 projects in progress at any one time and another 12 or so planned.
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