15 Creative Ways for Holiday Cards Recycling, Plus Wrapping Paper and Calendars, Too!

12/19/23 - By Liz Baill

Check out some creative ideas for recycling cards, wrapping paper, and calendars for some fun crafting to keep you busy during winter break. 

'Tis the season for gifts and greetings, but what to do with all of that seasonal stationery and pretty paper when the holidays come to a halt? We’ve compiled our favorite ideas for recycling cards, wrapping paper, and calendars that will inspire you to give that holiday swag new life and create some fun crafts for your kiddos. Last year’s cards and calendars are this year’s bookmarks, banners, and beyond!

Once you’ve found a crafty and sustainable solution for recycling cards and other holiday papers, round up those tossed toilet paper rolls and get creative with our list of 20 fun and easy toilet paper roll crafts for kids. For even more ways to help save the planet this holiday season, check out our Earth Kids Guide, and sign up for our Earth Kids newsletter.

Creative Ideas for Recycling Cards, Wrapping Paper, and Other Holiday Items


The pictures and patterns on holiday cards make them the perfect materials for bookmarks that will keep you feeling festive all year long.

2. Banners

Cut triangles or flag shapes out of the colorful parts of cards and calendars. Tape them to a long piece of string to make a simple banner that can be used as a holiday decoration for years to come.

3. Paper Snowflakes

Wrapping paper is perfect for cutting colorful snowflakes that can decorate your home this holiday season (and all winter long). Our Coffee Filter Snowflake Garlands tutorial provides step-by-step instructions on making paper snowflakes.

4. Collage Cards

Make new cards out of old cards! Cut words, pictures, and patterns from old cards, then collage them onto a blank card for next year’s greetings.

RELATED: Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas Kids Can Do

Paper Chains : Creative Ways for Holiday Cards Recycling
Make colorful paper chains out of holiday cards and gift wrap.

5. Paper Chains

Kids love making paper chains, and using holiday cards and gift wrap gives these chains a festive flair. Just cut paper strips that are between one and two inches wide, then loop them together with tape to create fun paper chains.

6. Next Year’s Ornaments

Cut out some of your cards’ most festive features. Then punch a hole, add a ribbon, and store them away to hang on next year's Christmas tree.

7. Place Cards

Cut cards into small squares or rectangles, then fold them to make festive place cards for holiday gatherings. For an extra-cute touch, have your kiddo write each guest's name on the cards.

8. Puzzles

Cut your cards into thin strips, then glue the strips onto Popsicle sticks to make fun and festive stick puzzles.

9. Origami Gift Box

Wrapping paper can double as origami paper! Check out this tutorial on making DIY Origami Gift Boxes that your kiddo can use to wrap small presents.

RELATED: 50 Genius Things To Do With Cardboard Boxes, Plus More Cardboard Crafts and Activities for Kids

Fine Motor Practice: Creative Ways for Holiday Cards Recycling
Work on scissor skills with old wrapping paper and tissue paper.

10. Fine Motor Practice

Got a toddler? Work on those scissor skills! Wrapping paper and tissue paper are great for practicing cutting and ripping and for giving those little fingers a workout.

11. Decoupage

Help your child use Mod Podge to adhere bits and pieces of holiday cards to a box, a wooden slab, or another small surface. The finished product makes a great piece of holiday decor or a heartfelt gift for a loved one.

12. Sensory Shreddings

Send your wrapping paper through a shredder to make a fun sensory bin for a toddler to explore. Hide some treasures inside the shredding for your little one to find. You can also use a hole puncher to create confetti.

13. Pretend Play

Kids love to use old wrapping paper to wrap toys they already have and then "gift" them to friends, family, or dolls during pretend play. They'll also learn a valuable life skill that will serve them will in future holiday seasons. 

14. Gift Tags

Cut holiday cards into gift tags for next year’s presents. You can have the kids cut them into fun shapes, use a gift tag-shaped hole punch, or do a combination of both.

15. Recycle and Donate

Envelopes and cards made of plain paper can be tossed in the recycling bin, but we love the Recycled Card Program at St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. It invites people to send the fronts of their holiday cards so that the kids and teens there can turn them into new cards, then sell them to raise money for their needs.

Unless noted, photos courtesy of Canva