You’ve probably seen enough of Christmas cards, now that Twelfth Night has gone and you have taken them all down. If you haven’t yet thrown them into the recycling bin (or the landfill bin, for the non – recyclable cards) you might want to look a little carefully at them. For they have the potential to become something new. I fell out of the habit of cutting up old Christmas and Birthday cards to make gift tags and new cards at a particularly busy time, but this year the fondness for this habit has returned. If you feel that an urg to get the scissors and school glue out might come upon you, but it’s too late and they’ve gone in the bin,  there’s surely a Birthday coming up. New fodder will then be at hand if you save the cards.

I find it strangely irresistible. It’s like school arts and crafts sessions again – reusing scrap materials just like the old days. It’s like a game for me. How many bits and pieces and how many different types of material can I re-purpose? Cut out motifs from cards, punch a hole in the top and thread through a little ribbon, raffia and twine, squirreled away from Christmas and Birthday presents past. There you go – a new set of gift tags for the year ahead for nothing: frugal and resourceful. Part of a card has found a second use (maybe several parts), but they probably will then end up in the bin after that. Unless you can persuade your more crafty friends and family to get arty and stick your gift tag on to a new card, then it goes round again.

I made some edible gifts this Christmas. I’d intended to package these biscuits in jam jars but found my jars were too small so had to opt for cellophane packs instead. Large jam jars it will be next year, but at least I had gift tags to hand.


Incidentally, these were ginger and lemon biscuits made from a recipe from a cookbook that was my Great Grandmother’s. It looks like it dates to around the time of the WW1. Coombs Unrivelled Cookery for the Middle Classes. There’s a title you won’t find on a book these days! My Grandfather kept it, and it was handed down to me. It’s only a promotional book for Coombs baking products, but my Grandfather kept it anyway. Perhaps squirreling stuff away runs in the family.

Coombs Unrivelled Cookery for the Middle Classes

When it comes to cards, I started to question why I was making them. You can re-use and re-purpose away, but if using new blank cards as a base (and it’s definitely easier) then they’re not completely recycled. You’re saving materials from the bin but buying some new in the process. Does it matter? It’s debatable. It’s definitely frugal as new blank cards are far cheaper. I found some for around 8p per card, as opposed to around £2.50 for new cards bought singly, like Birthday or ‘Nephew’ or ‘Sister and Brother-in-Law’ named Christmas cards. You would need to enjoy wielding the scissors and glue tube though!

Greetings cards made from reused materials

You don’t even need to be very arty. I used to spend a lot of time drawing and painting, particularly when younger, but as other crafts have taken over, my drawing skills have declined. My favourite quick and easy approach is to take that saved card, cut out the best bits, then layer on top of other re-used pieces of coloured paper, wrapping paper and tissue. Don’t spend too much time – rip it, tear it!

Although well versed in using recycled materials to make the cards, I’m thinking about taking this to a new level as it gives me a sense of purpose in the process. Since making a batch of cards this Christmas break, I’ve broadened my horizons as regards potential material to reuse. After the frenzy of opening Christmas presents, most families throw away a staggering amount of waste, like  83 sq kilometres of wrapping paper , say Envirowaste. Food for thought. So, old greetings cards, wrapping paper, used coloured envelopes, packing tissue and cut-outs from magazines are all game for me. Now though, I keep spotting attractive card packaging. I hover as I approach the bin, and give this stuff a second look. I thought it would be too fiddly to make the blank cards from reused materials, but I’ve just made three blanks quite quickly that are black on the outside, white on the inside from thin card packaging. The resulting card need not cost a thing, or include any new materials. More in a later post. Game on!