My Nana Anne saved every card and note she was ever given. She stored them in those plastic zipped bags that blankets come in, and after she passed away, we spent several wonderful (and teary) days going through them and making up little bundles to return to certain family members. After a few hours, we could often look at the outside of a card and guess who it was from before looking inside… we all must gravitate to the same type of greeting cards each year!
But that wasn’t all Nana did with old cards. Coming from the “Use it up, Wear it out, Make it do, or Do Without” generation, a stash of old greeting cards was a treasure! When I was little, if I mentioned having nothing to do, Nana would always pull out a box-ful of cards, buttons, fabric scraps, or magazines, along with some scissors and a bottle of Elmer’s and tell me to “make something.”
And I did. These were the pre-video game days. We didn’t even know what a video was. Her TV only got two channels, and one of them was PBS, and I thought I was too old for Sesame Street. So days spent at Nana’s house were constructive instead of entertaining. If I didn’t busy myself by “making something,” she’s find some work for me to do… but she’d make that fun too. We’d take those old cards and cut them up to make new ones. Or gift tags. Or collage pictures. Or we would try to draw the picture that was on it.
“Be creative,” she’d say. “Imagination is a great nation.”
When I was in middle and high school, I became very interested in art, and developed close relationships with my art teachers. And guess what? They saved greeting cards too! In the pre-Google days, greeting cards were a free way of obtaining reference photos for drawing. Both of my favorite art teachers kept filing cabinets full of greeting cards, organized in manilla folders marked “Birds,” “Snow Scenes,” and “Flowers.” If I needed to know how to draw a rabbit, they would send me to dig through the “Reference File.”
So with that in mind, as I was taking down the Christmas cards this morning, I thought I’d share some ideas on how to re-use them before recycling or throwing them away…
Cut them up to make new scrapbook-style cards!
Save pictures that can be re-used, or even the sayings
from inside the cards! A box-full of card parts can keep
little hands busy on snowy winter days!
Use them to make Scrap Ornaments!
Scrap Ornaments date back to Victorian times,
when greeting cards were just coming into fashion.
Blumchen is a great resource for tinsel and other
supplies to turn your card tidbits into something special!
Make Gift Tags for next year!
Sometimes a small picture or the saying from
inside would make the perfect gift tag!
Start an Art Reference File!
Take an old shoe box, put in some cardboard dividers,
and file greeting card pictures according to subject!
The next time your 8 year-old wants to know how to
draw a camel, you’ll be prepared!
Tape a picture from a greeting card into your
art journal, and try to duplicate it on the opposite page.
Or, just try drawing elements of the picture,
such as a candlestick or manger.
It really does help to see how other artists depict
simple subjects. Artists often do a lot of “copying”
as they are learning how to draw!
For a challenge, tape HALF of a picture into
your journal and attempt to finish the other side!
Or tape in a picture of a person or animal
and draw the background around them!
Make a collage using bits and pieces from old cards!
Using Modge Podge or watered-down glue,
decorate a box to hold special Christmas treasures!
Make tiny boxes out of them!
We had a fun girl day, many years ago,
and spent the afternoon learning to make tiny
greeting card boxes! (Hello Poe Family!)
Jo and Kate showed Nana Anne how to make them,
and we soon had oodles of precious little boxes!
We even received the one on the left for Christmas this year,
made by ladies at church! (Hi Donna & Barbara!)
There are lots of other ways to use old cards…
A quick internet search will give you plenty of ideas!
Be Creative! Imagination is a great nation!
Some things are just too pretty to throw away.