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Ripped Christmas wrapping paper.

Can We Recycle Christmas Cards?

Recycling at Christmas

After Christmas, most of us need a little time to recover from the excess. And what better way to get back on track than by using up leftover wrapping paper and Christmas cards to enjoy a recycled Christmas craft? Recycling at Christmas is just one more way to reduce your family's environmental impact and keep pennies in your pockets at the same time.

Taking an afternoon to recycle Christmas cards and wrapping paper will save you from buying more than you need to next Christmas. Though the post-holiday disposal of Christmas cards and wrapping can feel a little downbeat, this year our very green uses for old Christmas cards will help kick the January blues and give you a head start on next year!


Sustainable Ideas For Christmas Cards And Wrapping

Later we'll share ideas on how to recycle the Christmas cards and wrapping paper that you'll inevitably collect from friends and relatives; but when you're sending out your own gifts and greetings, why not take it as an opportunity to reduce paper waste in advance?

  • Opt for wrapping paper that is 100% paper. Lots of decorative Christmas paper includes elements of foil or plastic that are difficult to recycle so make recycling at Christmas easier for everyone by avoiding these ones.
  • Consider reusing and recycling paper to wrap your presents. You could use pretty pages from old magazines, or even dress up an old newspaper strip with a pretty ribbon for a whimsical look.
  • Save the paper cards for close friends and family, and send festive e-cards to your wider circle. Colleagues and casual acquaintances will still appreciate an email greeting and it’ll help to reduce new paper production (and take a load off their recycling at Christmas, too!).

How To Recycle Christmas Cards

Christmas card giving and receiving has long been a tradition in Britain – making cards is one of the classic Christmas crafts that kids really enjoy. But what do you do with all the cards you've received after Christmas? Here are two fun ways to recycle Christmas cards.

Before you get started...

You need to prepare your old Christmas cards for recycling:

  1. Cut the backs off the cards and put them into the recycling bin. 
  2. Separate the cards into two piles: one for cards with writing on the reverse of the picture and one where the back of the picture is blank.  
  3. Now follow the steps below for each pile of cards.


1. Reusing Blank Picture Cards

Reusing Christmas cards that have little or no writing on them is easy! These can easily be made into gift tags to be attached to gifts the following year.

  1. First, cut the card up into rectangles using scissors or pinking shears
  2. Next, punch a hole in one corner of each rectangle
  3. Thread a pretty ribbon or string through the hole

Now, you won't need to buy gift tags next year! Just remember to supervise your kids when they’re using scissors.  


2. Reusing Written-On Picture Cards

Use these to form festive collages on the front of handmade cards.

  1. Cut up pretty sections and glue them to folded paper to form Christmassy scenes
  2. Embellish with glitter to finish off your simple homemade Christmas cards for next year

For more ideas on how to make recycled Christmas cards with your kids, check out our tips on card designs.


How To Recycle Christmas Wrapping Paper

There's always so much wrapping paper left after Christmas – either scrunched up or ripped. Most of this usually ends up in our recycling bins but there are lots of fun things you can do to recycle wrapping paper in a crafty way. Here are a few ideas on how to recycle Christmas paper:  


1. Reuse Large pieces To Wrap Parcels And Line Boxes Or Drawers

If you manage to salvage any large pieces, you can get them (almost) good as new for next year!

Warning: do not attempt this with wrapping paper that contains foil or plastic!

  1. Cover them with a clean tea towel
  2. Iron over the towel on a very low temperature, so all the creases are flattened out (this should only be done by an adult)
  3. Once they’re crease-free, store carefully for next year


2. Use Small Pieces For Decoupage Or Paper Crafts

What better way to make eco Christmas gifts for next year than by using up this year's waste paper?

  1. Cut and paste strips of paper onto decorative items, like gift boxes and tree ornaments
  2. Varnish (decoupage) to give them a special finish
  3. Use any leftover pieces to do some of the paper craft activities found on our site – mosaics, collage picture frames, funky bangles, the possibilities are limitless!

Although crafts using old Christmas cards and wrapping are fun for all the family, there may be some stains created in the process. But don’t worry; for advice on how to tackle things like glue on clothes, check out our stain removal section. And, don’t forget, always supervise kids when doing craft activities!


More Christmas Recycling Tips: Recycling Christmas Lights

String Christmas lights are an iconic part of the festive season but sadly they don’t last forever.

It's unlikely that your kerbside recycling service will be set up for recycling fairy lights but you should still resist chucking them in the household waste. Take them along to your local waste and refuse centre, where they can be disposed of with electronic waste. If you’re not sure how to do it, contact your local council about their facilities for recycling Christmas fairy lights.


Knowing how to recycle Christmas cards, wrapping paper and even fairy lights means that you can make this Christmas a green one. Take some important steps to help the environment… and guarantee yourself a spot on the ‘nice’ list for next year.

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