By Jennifer L. Prince
There are so many occasions to celebrate throughout the year…anniversaries, holidays, weddings and babies. As these special times approach, we anticipate the postal worker delivering greetings from family and friends. After awhile, however, that excitement can wane as cards accumulate on counters and in baskets. When the festivities are over, what are we to do with all of those cards? Here are a few ideas to get you started on creatively displaying, saving and disposing of your collected sentiments.
Greetings add to our décor and are a thoughtful reminder of those who sent them. Use them to enhance your surroundings with the following ideas.
• Hunt for items in local salvage yards and antique stores that can be repurposed into a conversation piece. Old 6- or 8-pane windows can be hung against a wall or as a room divider. Add cards to the panes with double sided tape for a display that can change with the seasons and occasions. Louvered shutters are ideal for displaying cards by placing one greeting over each louver. The shutters can be attached to the wall, or two can be hinged together for a self-supporting display.
• Quick Christmas Decorating Ideas author and decorating guru Leslie Linsley offers this tip: During the holidays, drape your banister or mantel with fresh greenery and cheerful bows. Punch a hole in the upper left corner of each card, and tie the cards to the greens with raffia or gold string.
• Many retailers carry multiple-card holders that are freestanding or can be affixed to a door or wall. Well-placed small easels will also grandly showcase a collection of cards.
• An Old Fashioned Country Christmas (Time Life, 1998) suggests hanging a table runner on a wall or door. Using gold straight pins, pin all your cards to the runner for a dramatic display.
You can also attach your cards from top to bottom on a tapestry bell pull or table runner, then hang the whole thing next to the fireplace or in your hallway as you might a welcome banner.
Some sentiments are just meant to be saved, cherished, and even passed down through the generations. Reinventing their original use is also a way to give the cards a new lease on life.
• Instead of purchasing expensive scrapbooking pieces, cut out the decorative elements and expressions from the cards, and use them as borders, frames and accents on your pages. Memory books can even be filled with cards that include family photos. One HOME reader keeps a scrapbook near her mail pile during the month of December, and adds the photos from holiday cards into the book as they arrive. She does it “without labeling
or organizing. It’s a low stress, high enjoyment way to keep all of those photos,” she says. “I can’t tell you how much we enjoy looking at those books over the years.”
• An Old-Fashioned Country Christmas advises, “Save your favorite Christmas cards and cut them into pleasing shapes or outlines. Border them with oldfashioned tinsel, crepe paper or ribbon. They make great tree ornaments.”
• Creating a collage is a way to preserve memories year-round. Decoupage the fronts of the greetings (in whole or part) onto trays, tables or storage boxes. A collection can also be displayed underneath the glass of a tabletop, and the cards can be rotated to fit the current occasion.
• Mat and frame individual cards for a merry touch. A single card from a loved one can be displayed in a shadow box with precious mementos that recall the sender.
• The website Familycrafts.com offers a plethora of creative crafting ideas. Bookmarks can be made from the more ornate parts. Either cut the card lengthwise into a strip 2 inches wide, or remove the decorative pieces and affix them to your own cardstock. Greetings can also be repurposed into gift tags by selecting the more ornamental elements of the card, punching a hole, and attaching some pretty ribbon.
• Children can get in on the fun by cutting cards and making collages, which can then be laminated into interesting placemats. Elements from children’s greetings can also be cut out and transformed into simple lacing cards by punching holes around the edges and providing yarn. You can even turn them into the most interesting (and great flying!) paper airplanes for the young ones.
If we were to keep every card, we would have stacks. Don’t be afraid to hang on to the ones that are significant, and relegate the castoffs to one of the following options.
• Many organizations take donations of used greeting cards. Check with local residential institutions to see if they collect them for their residents. One such senior center, Handmaker in Tucson, Arizona, uses greetings to make stunning displays. Volunteer coordinator Anne Lopez says, “Every time the postman brings a packet, box or envelope of cards, there is such an air of excitement. Who would have ever guessed that greeting cards, those small works of art that we put away in dresser drawers or shoe boxes (rarely to be looked at again), could bring such pleasure to so many?” You can contact the center at www.handmaker.org; they will gladly accept any type of used greeting cards.
• At the very least, recycle your cards. Local recycling centers have “mixed paper” bins that are the ideal way to
permanently dispose of your already enjoyed greeting cards.
So, during the next occasion in your household, enjoy those messages, from the earliest arrival to the last belated wish. With some ideas in your back pocket, you are ready to tackle that stack of correspondence and preserve the greetings that are truly meaningful.