Wondering what to do with old greeting cards? Here’s how to display, repurpose, and store your collection!

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Got Old Greeting Cards? Repurpose Them!

set of handmade valentines cards

 

Since so much of today’s communication happens online, it makes sense that we tend to cherish handwritten or handcrafted itemsespecially when they’re from the people closest to us. The problem? Over the years, sentimental cards and letters can pile up, leaving you more overwhelmed than appreciated. Finding an effective way to store cards is essential. 

If you’re not quite sure what to do with old cards and letters, you’re in luck! There are many great opportunities to display, repurpose, and store your favorite notes. Whether you’re looking for creative ways to display love letters, wondering what to do with old birthday cards or anything in between, we’ll walk you through your options. 

The first step is simple: sorting through your cards to decide which category each note falls into. Take some time to review your stack, and make one pile for your favorites to display. Then, make another for any that can be repurposed and a third for any you want to keep stored away.

Once that’s done, start exploring the creative organizing tips below!

Displaying Sentimental Cards and Letters

First, let’s discuss how to display greeting cards and letters you love. Regardless of your approach, displaying your cards is a great way to keep positive memories and sweet notes front and center in your home. When you’re ready, choose from the four options below for your “display” pile.

Frame Your Favorites

via Care2

Framing your favorite cards is a tried-and-true solution. Think of it as a longer-term alternative to setting your cards on a bookshelf or pinning them to the fridge. Framing gives your cards a more permanent home, and they’ll look more like intentional décor than a sweet afterthought.

Take inspiration from an art gallery by giving each letter or card its own frame, then hang those frames on one wall for a dramatic impact. Or, if you have keepsakes you want to display with the card, consider putting those items in a shadow box and hanging that on the wall.

How should you decide which cards to display? Experts say it depends on the contents of the note. The more personal and intimate the card, the more likely it should be kept private. “Obviously, a very old love letter from an ex should not be framed, but one from your current partner could be framed and put somewhere discreet where only you might see it,” recommends Apartment Therapy writer Laure Joliet. “It’s a nice way to bring the personal into your home and to help tell the story of your relationship.”

Make a Scrapbook Album

 

Another option is turning sentimental cards into a scrapbook or special album. Professional organizer Nancy McGivney recommends cards and letters be treated like kids’ artwork. “Keep only the best. Then make a holiday album you store with the seasonal decor to remember great holidays past,” she adds. 

With some chipboard, a hole punch, and some rings, you can create an album of cards to flip through anytime. Or, if you want a more secure option, a binder with plastic sleeve inserts also works well.

Create a Sentimental Photo Mat

 

If you’re hoping for a more creative, dynamic display, choose a few of your favorite cards and arrange them on a photo mat so the images you like the best are highlighted. Use craft glue to secure the cards to the mat, and flip the mat over when it’s dry. Cut away the excess using a razor blade, then insert the mat around a related photo. When you’re done, you’ll have a themed frame that tells a deeper story than the photo itself.

Highlight Cards in Mason Jars

 

Another way to store cards is to use them as decór inside mason jars. This craft is so easy, you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself!

Just slide your favorite cards into mason jars, wrap them around the interior surface, then put the lid on. Finish it off with some ribbon or seasonal greenery. When you’re done, you’ll have the perfect tabletop display to set up in your home. Mommy Kat and Kids have the full tutorial, which you can modify with the seasons to keep sentimental cards on display year-round.

Repurposing Sentimental Cards and Letters

Some cards feel like they have sentimental value, but they don’t quite make the cut for display or storage. Whether the card itself just isn’t your style, the message was sweet but nothing special, or you just have too many cards for a particular occasion (or from a particular person), repurposing is a great way to keep the special meaning without keeping the clutter. Here are a few repurposing options to consider.

Create Personalized Magnets

If you’re like most people, you can never have enough magnets. Luckily, custom magnets are easy to create, and greeting cards make the perfect material. 

Start by cutting out your favorite images or notes and glue them to a magnet sheet, then cut the magnet sheet to size. That’s it! Using this technique, you can easily display your special items on your refrigerator for everyone to see.

If any of your cards are for specific holidays, you can also use this process to create themed magnets that make up a set. Motherhood on a Dime used this technique to create a nativity scene for her kids, but you can easily modify the steps in this tutorial and apply it to any cards you might have at home. 

Related: Christmas Decoration Storage: How to Store it All

Create Gift Tags

 

For those cards that you’re just not sure what to do with, cut out the images and turn them into cute gift tags. It’s a win-win: you’ll always have gift tags when you need them, and your cards get a second life alongside someone else’s gift. 

When you look closely at a card, you can find all sorts of shapes that will make great tags. Cut out common images like hearts, stars, cakes, flowers, and other common graphics, and you’ll probably end up with tags for a variety of holidays and occasions. 

When you find an image you like, just cut it out and punch a small hole in your tag. Then, string some twine or ribbon through the hole. When you’re done, store your tags in an envelope in the same place as the rest of your gift-wrapping supplies so you can easily find them when you need them.

Return Them

Many people hang on to items because they fear how the giver might feel if they don’t hold on to them. If you’ve ever thought, “My grandmother would be devastated if I got rid of that!” this one’s for you.

We don’t often consider giving cards back to the sender, but it’s a fun option that also becomes a nostalgic gift. If you want to go this route, just package up all the cards and notes you have from each person, and send them back with a quick note of your own. 

The Art of Simple writer Katie Clemons recalls when someone sent a package like this to her grandmother. “It was filled with about 24 letters and Christmas cards that she had written to her closest college friend over the years! Getting those letters back was like receiving a time capsule. It was the first time we got to learn about my dad’s first Christmas.”

Your cards can create a similar feel-good moment for the original sender, so don’t be afraid to send your cards back if they’ve already served their purpose in your home. 

Related: How to Get Rid of Stuff with Sentimental Value

Make Your Own Garland

 

Using a circle punch and some twine, you can create your own garland out of notes and cards that you have around your house. Take each circle, fold it in half, and then glue the right sides together. Bobbi Lewin uses five circles to create this design, but you can use however many you want. Let them dry, punch a hole in the center, and then string twine through each one. This is an especially fun way to repurpose holiday cards as a heartfelt holiday decoration!

Create DIY Postcards

 

Another simple way to repurpose your sentimental notes and cards is to create your own postcards. If the inside of the card’s front cover is blank, cut off the front of the card for your new “postcard.” 

You can store or display the note that was inside the card, or you can toss it in the recycling bin. Then, using a corner shaper that you can find at your local craft store, round out the corners so they’re nice and smooth. Add a note, an address, and a stamp, and you’re done! Just drop it in the mail like a regular postcard whenever it’s convenient. 

Personalize a Wine Tag

 

Make a simple bottle of wine even more special by adding your own personalized gift tag. Start by cutting a piece of cardstock into a 3-inch by 7-inch rectangle. Then, use scissors to score the card about 2.5 inches from the top (where you’ll fold it) and use a 1.25-inch hole punch to create a hole large enough for the neck of the bottle. Once your cardstock is cut and ready to go, cut a section of your greeting card to your desired size. Secure the card to the cardstock, then hang the tag on the bottle when the glue is dry. This is a great trick to make a last-minute wine gift feel more thoughtful and put together.

Storing Sentimental Cards and Letters

At the end of the day, most people will have some cards that are too special to keep but too personal to display. That’s where effective greeting card storage comes in. For those cards that don’t fall into the other categories, here are a few simple storage options.

Create a Digital Album

If you’re nervous about losing the physical copies of your old notes and greeting cards—or you just won’t interact with them that way—moving your cards to a digital space is a worthwhile project. 

You can scan all of your sentimental cards into your computer or find a company that will scan them for you. If you have cards that are three-dimensional or have a look that scanning can’t capture, set up a light box and take photos of your cards. When you’re done, you can transfer all your images into a digital scrapbook.

“Digital Scrapbooking is simply creating a scrapbook layout on the computer. You use paper and elements that are created digitally using graphic design software,” Michele McGraw writes on Scraps of my Geek Life. “There are many different programs available starting from $29 to over $500. If you are just starting out, I recommend you start with a dedicated scrapbooking program because the software will come with some digital kits to give you a head start.”

Related: How to Store Old Photos and Preserve Precious Memories

Find the Perfect Storage Box

 

Storing the actual item is a little more sensitive because cards, letters, and ink can deteriorate over time. “If you would like to store some items in a box, make sure it is waterproof, sealed, and limited in size,” recommends Claire Kurtz. “In order to not grow beyond the chosen size box, maintain a strategy of removing one item before adding a new one.” Make sure to store this box in a climate-controlled storage unit to ensure your valuables won’t be damaged by heat, cold, or moisture.

Recycle for a Cause

 

Finally, if you decide you don’t need to store your sentimental cards (or you’re wondering what to do with old sympathy cards), consider donating them to the Recycled Cards Program offered through St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. They turn your used cards into new all-occasion and holiday cards. The cards they create are then sold, and that money helps support their programs for homeless, neglected, or abused children, young adults, and families. 

“The program is beneficial to everyone – customers receive fun, “green” holiday or other occasion cards they can feel good sending to their friends and loved ones,” according to St. Jude’s, “and the children at St. Jude’s Ranch receive payment for their work and learn basic job skills and the importance of recycling.”

Many people struggle with how to store cards and letters, so if you don’t have a system in place, you’re not alone! But when it comes to sentimental items, it’s worth the effort to handle them with care. Take the time to display, repurpose, and store each card and letter to ensure they will last a lifetime. One day, you’ll be glad you did!

 

Updated on 2/3/16 & 6/27/23 from an article originally published on 5/9/14.

About the Authors

Alexa Nizam

Alexa Nizam is a professional writer with five years of experience writing for B2B, B2C, and lifestyle publications. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin (hook ‘em!). Alexa’s writing business has been featured in Business Insider, and her work appears in blogs for BufferLemonlight, and The Momentum. When she’s not sitting in LA traffic, you can find her at the beach, drinking coffee, or drinking coffee at the beach.

Lauren Thomann

Lauren Thomann has written about self storage and moving since 2015, making her our storage expert. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English and Linguistics and has published over 150 articles on moving, storage, and home organization. She is also a contributing writer at The Spruce and Martha Stewart.

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