As Jim Reeves sang, "there's an old Christmas card in an old dusty trunk. And it brings back sweet mem'ries dear to me." Christmas cards are an easy and considerate way to let your loved ones know you're thinking of them during the holiday season.
It's always a pleasant surprise to see a personal card or letter tucked into the usual mound of bills and junk mail. But while cards carry sentimental value, they can easily become clutter -- taking up space in drawers or turning into piles on kitchen counters. Researchers at the Princeton University Neuroscience Institute have found that "multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation." To translate this into layman's terms, having a cluttered space limits your ability to focus on one thing. This means decreased productivity and reduced attention spans. The findings of this study are corroborated by a recent online poll sponsored by The Huffington Post. According to the poll, 84 percent of Americans who say that they are stressed worry that their homes aren't clean or organized enough.
With the holidays causing enough stress, there's no need to pile on more. However, for people who wish to keep the dear memories that their old Christmas or holiday cards elicit, throwing them away can be difficult or seem wasteful. Luckily, there are a multitude of ways to repurpose Christmas and holiday cards.
For the doodlers on your Christmas list, consider making a themed notepad. Simply staple the front page of an old Christmas card to a stack of scrap paper. These notepads can be stashed in a purse, by the phone or at the office. Any time they need to jot down a few things, they'll think of you. Similarly, bookmarks are an easy way to repurpose cards. Cut out fun shapes from card covers and add some ribbon through a hole punched at the top. If you're giving them to a child, consider laminating the bookmarks so that they don't easily tear or break down.
A staple of the holiday season, decorative Christmas villages adorn department-store shelves and household tables. These displays have a rich history, dating back to the Renaissance. According to Family Christmas Online, "In areas settled by German-speaking Moravians, the seasonal 'communities' were called 'putzes,' from the German word for 'put,' 'set up,' or 'putter.' Moravian families (and eventually many others) would set out displays early in the season and tweak, or 'putz around' with them right up until Christmas." You can make your own miniature putz villages out of old cards. First, pick a card that is large enough to fit a pattern. The Little Glitter Houses website has a great variety of patterns to choose from, and easy instructions to follow. You'll need a box cutter, scissors, glue and tape. Glitter, stickers and other add-ons are optional but encouraged.
Cards can also be repurposed to make gift tags. This will cut down on wrapping costs and waste. If you're giving goods in cans or jars, use the lid of the jar to trace a circle around a Christmas card of your choosing. Cut out the circle, and glue it to the top of the jar. Tie a ribbon around the jar for an added pop of color.
If you're looking to cut down on paper waste, there are alternatives to sending a classic Christmas card. According to the market research firm of IBISWorld, e-cards are a $290 million business. Though it doesn't yet compare to the $8 billion greeting card industry, electronic cards are growing rapidly in popularity and personalization. Paperless Post does a great job of giving your loved ones the experience of opening a greeting card, with the added bonus of music or animation. There's also a smaller carbon footprint. Plantable cards are another option. Made from seed paper, these cards, once planted by the recipient, can grow into beautiful flowers.
Lastly, St. Jude's Ranch for Children has created a recycled card program. It welcomes greeting cards from every occasion, and repackages them to sell to support cancer research. By donating, you're contributing to a great cause and reducing clutter. And your holiday memories will stay with you.