Get creative: Recycle those Christmas cards

Published January 1, 2006

The holidays are over, and it is time to put away all those festive decorations. I will spend a day this week unplugging outlets, packing up outdoor and indoor decorations, putting them safely away for next year. In some cases, I will throw out the old to make way for new sparkly things for next year. The house will look bare inside and out for a while, but in a couple of days, all will look normal.

I was talking to an acquaintance the other day. Let's call him Steve. He reads my column faithfully every week. Some he likes, others leave him a little wanting. In any case, he suggested I write on what to do with those holiday cards we get every year.

He never should have mentioned it!

When someone suggests something like this, my head starts feeling funny and my brain goes a little haywire. Even when I'm thinking of other things, my brain returns to the suggestion. It's the curse of the creative.

So, I've been thinking about these cards. My husband and I love to receive them and we also love to send them to people we haven't seen for a long time. We don't send to those we can wish Happy Holidays to in person. Friends and acquaintances spend lots of money on these cards and the postage it takes to send to wish everyone merry.

Some cards come with life stories of the entire family and what they have done with their lives for a whole year. Others send family photos that include children, grandchildren and even family friends. Some of the ones pictured in the photos we will never see and never know, but the thought is good and it's nice to show off what you have created by birth.

But what a shame to throw all of these treasures in the wastebasket when friends have taken the time to send them to you and spent lots of money to do so.

To save them in shoe boxes would only add up to a cluttered closet. So I have come up with a few uses for leftover Christmas or holiday cards.

I hope you are ready for this.

You could cross off the names of the senders, put your name in their place and send them back to them next year. Then the following year, they could do the same. Or you could send them to different friends and let them figure out who the original senders were. They may or may not know them.

On top of that, if they do, they can wonder why they didn't get one from them or why their card was less expensive. That will make for a lot of merry among friends.

You could cut off the front cover and sew them together with yarn to make place mats, trees to hang over your fireplace or a runner for your dining room table. If you get enough of them, you could even sew them together to make a holiday bedspread.

Those who like to work with tiny objects could cut out the tiny Santas or snowmen, attach them to earring posts from a craft store and make cute little earrings to wear next year. Or you could turn the tiny pieces into brooches for your coat.

If you wanted to put yourself through a bunch of work, you could glue them on cardboard, apply polyurethane and turn them into a top for your old coffee table. Or you could cut them into little pieces and put them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. This would give the grandchildren something to do next year while waiting for dinner.

If your shoes have holes in the soles, you could place them in your shoes or slippers to cover the holes. This will avoid having to go to the shoe repair store or going to get new shoes or slippers. (Cross those off the list for next year's gifts.)

For those really ambitious people who need more to do with their leisure time, they could shape chicken wire together, like those cute little Chia pets, and cover the wire with the leftover card fronts creating decorations for the outdoors that could have lights added to them. Of course, you would have to protect them with polyurethane again, but you do have a whole year to get the project done.

How unique your lawn will look with reindeer, Santas and wreaths you have created yourself from leftover cards.

For the photo cards, you could have a party and have your guests guess who is in the photo from a list you have provided. The one who gets the most guesses correct gets the photo cards to keep for themselves.

I guess the worst thing you could do with these cards is to use them to line your kitty's litter box. But now you see, I have pondered this question too long and I must go about the business of starting a new year.

I am making no New Year's resolutions this year. I never seem to keep them anyway, so why bother? I resolve never to write another column about leftover Christmas cards. I bet you are all relieved.

I send my very best wishes to all of you for a safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!

Thought for the day: Do keep those cards coming! I really do love getting them.