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Christmas recycled - what to do with all those cards

By Michelle Sessions DiFranco | Photography by Philip Shippert

Every January, it happens. I collect the beautifully illustrated Christmas cards from the mantel, stare at them and waste an undefined period of time deciding what to do with them. For a few contemplative moments, my mind feels like a rope used in a tug-of-war. 

    On one side, I don’t like the idea of just chucking them into the garbage, since it would elicit feelings of guilt. I’m a bit sentimental about discarding something from the kind and caring person who sent it. On the other hand, whatever am I going to do with them all and will I even remember to read them again? So, typically, they sit in a neat pile on the kitchen countertop. Easier to defer than to decide – and hey, maybe my husband will deal with them!  If he chooses to throw them out, I am vindicated. Let all the guilt rest on his dark conscience if he should drop them in the trash. Last year, however, he was derelict in this duty and the cards sat until February, when an accidental beverage spill ruined them, and made the decision for us.  
    This year I did finally figure out what to do with those cards. An idea occurred as I was preparing a birthday gift for a friend. I was frantically looking for a gift tag in our “gift tags, ribbons, almost-empty cellophane tape rolls, and other wrapping stuff” box in our basement. I simply could not find an appropriate gift tag. My mind scurried and scampered for a solution that didn’t require driving to a store. Maybe I could make a gift tag? Maybe I could make one out of a recycled birthday card or scrapbook paper?  
    Eureka! I was suddenly struck with a notion of what to do with next year’s Christmas cards. A solution hit me at that moment that would both save money on future gift tag purchases and extend the life and value of all those Christmas cards I receive each year.  I would no longer deliberate on what to do with all those cards that had hitherto made their annual migration from the fireplace mantel, to our kitchen counter, to the trash bin.

For this project, you will need:
• Old Christmas cards
• Heavier stock scrapbook paper
• Scissors (or precision utility knife with cutting mat)
• Glue stick
• Hole punch
• ¼ inch wide (or smaller) ribbon
• White or lighter shade of paper for writing on inside (optional)

 Begin by cutting a 3” x 6” piece of scrapbook paper. Fold the paper in half, creating a 3” x 3” card.  Set aside. Cut out the design you want on the face of the Christmas card (making sure it’s roughly ¼ inch smaller than your 3” x 3” card). Paste that image onto your new folded card, leaving a border around the Christmas card image. Punch a hole through the upper left corner of your folded tag and loop the ribbon through the hole (to tie to gift). If you choose, you can paste a white piece of paper on the inside for writing the recipient’s name.

More ideas for recycling old cards:
Don’t limit your tags to the folded style. Christmas tags can be all shapes and sizes with a bit of creativity and an extra pair of inexpensive scrapbook scissors.
Create new Christmas cards by cutting and pasting old card imagery onto folded pieces of cardstock. With the vast array of scrapbook paper and embellishments, creativity is unlimited!
Use old Christmas cards for miscellaneous holiday arts and crafts for the kids.

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