Green cards

12 ways to reuse old Christmas cards

Heather Long at home with the gift tags she made from old Christmas cards.

Heather Long at home with the gift tags she made from old Christmas cards.

Photo By Kat Kerlin

Check out Heather Long’s online crafts shops, RushofWings and Chickadee Child, at

Heather Long comes from a big family. “My mom is one of seven; my dad is one of five. And everyone sends Christmas cards.”

She estimates sending out at least 70 each year and receiving just as many in return.

“I have a stack of them,” says Long, a former graphic designer who moved to Reno from Bend, Ore., just over a month ago with her husband and 2-year-old daughter. “So last year, watching movies one night, I cut out my cards.”

She made them into gift tags. Some are spread out on the table of her Northwest Reno home, with another stack separated in Ziplock bags according to theme—Santa tags, landscape tags, old-timey tags. She sells them, along with other recycled and repurposed finds at her “shop,” RushofWings, on, which is a bit like eBay for crafters.

“They’re nothing fancy, I just cut the artwork off the front of the cards,” she says.

Long had grown accustomed to the 96-gallon bin Bend allowed residents to fill with curbside recyclables, and she was disappointed to see just two milk crates offered to Renoites.

She throws out a statistic: 2.6 billion Christmas cards made every year.

“There’s so much stuff getting made, why do we have to make new stuff?” she says. “Why should it all go to the landfill?”

Aside from gift tags, here are 11 other ways to use old Christmas and greeting cards:

1) Donate them. The recycled card program at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children takes all sorts of greeting cards. Children make new cards from the old ones and sell them as a fundraiser. Mail them to St. Jude’s Ranch for Children, ATTN: Donor Office, PO Box 60100, Boulder City, NV 89006.

2) Make Christmas placemats and coasters. Cut out pictures and shapes from old ones, and press them together between two pieces of contact paper.

3) Make recipe cards. Write favorite holiday recipes on the backs of old cards, and cut to size.

4) Make a garland for your mantle or stairway.

5) Make postcards. Tear off the fronts of any cards that don’t have writing on their backsides.

6) Decoupage them onto an old frame and put a holiday photo inside.

7) Post them on “Old or new, people will gobble them up for scrapbooking,” says Long.

8) Use them yourself for scrapbooking.

9) Make a decorative holder. Glue images from your cards around an old coffee can to use as a candy holder or cookie cutter holder or however you’d like.

10) Make recycled wrapping paper by pasting them to brown paper bags.

11) Make new Christmas cards. Cut out the artwork on the front, paste it onto construction paper, and fold into a card shape.