How to display holiday cards year-round

I’m a sucker for holiday cards and letters. This is somewhat ironic, since the holiday season makes me roll my eyes a lot, and I do not enjoy seasonal decorating at all. You’d think that I would get all Scrooge-ish about holiday cards too, but no – quite the opposite. I absolutely love opening the mailbox and getting cards from family and friends, near and far, and then seeing their faces or the card they selected displayed on our wall for the season.

Ok, I’ll be honest. The cards often stay up much longer than the holiday season. Much longer. 

I think it was the year that I turned the calendar to March and commented to my husband that I thought it might sadly be time to take the holiday cards down that I decided to see if I could come up with a better way to display them and cherish them.

But, what happens to cards when it’s time to take them down? Before, I’ve simply shoved them in a drawer or folder and not really looked at them again. I can’t bear to toss them, yet I’m not making use of them either. Here are some ideas that I’ve come across:

MAKE A BOOK: I’ve seen lots of ideas to make them into a little book by binding them, or more simply, by punching strategic holes and adding book rings (one example from Honey Bear Lane). I saw one blogger who very charmingly discarded the innards of an old hardback book, and put some holes through the empty hard cover and used the book rings to hold the cards neatly inside. Very clever! I like this idea because it adds some structure to the stack of cards. Maybe I’ll try it some time for a special event or birthday. (I’m so sorry, I can’t find the blog where I originally spotted this idea! If you see it, please let me know.) But it still means that the cards will be in some drawer or box somewhere.

MAKE AN ORNAMENT: My sister-in-law makes amazing ornaments from her cards. She saves them from year to year and hangs them near the current year’s cards. It’s just lovely. But, since I’m not much into decorating and the fussiness of this project intimidates me, this idea isn’t for me. If you’re into it, you can check out these fancy flower fold ornaments, or these simpler circle-based ornaments from Maker Mama.

REUSE: The idea is you can clip out cute designs and reuse them for gift tags or other adorableness. I know myself, however, and I would (1) forget or (2) let’s be honest – my idea of a gift tag is a sharpie with a to/from written directly onto the gift wrap. Plus, the vast majority of the cards we receive are photo cards, and they don’t really include much that’s reusable. Summary: Great idea; not for me.

As you may be able to tell, I wasn’t feeling particularly inspired by the ideas that I had come across. I wanted to keep the cards on display, you see, but without my house looking like that one neighbor who takes down their Christmas lights in July.

I decided to make a collage. I picked out a frame and got my trusty square hole punch, and my stack of cards. I measured my square punch, got out a ruler and a calculator and did some math to ensure that my collage would be straight and even. I drew a grid of light pencil lines onto my paper backing.



Then, I massacred the cards. By that, I mean that I breathed in very deeply, admired each card one last time, and then hit them up with my square punch.



Before long, my stack of cards looked like this:



Let me share a little more about how I got there. Some cards are tricky to capture in a  1 1/2″ square. Some of my friends have chosen extreme close-up photos, like one that had a huge blown-up photo of an adorable little boy.

As much as it pains me to chop up the photo, it must be done. My strategy is to pick out elements of the photo that capture its spirit – in this case I captured the boy’s smile and how his eye is smiling too. (Nod to Tyra’s “smize”. I *almost* found a context in which to use it.) I will place these two squares near each other in the final product so there is some continuity.



Some cards just wouldn’t work in the chop-up scheme at all. I allowed for  about 5 larger 3″ squares in my collage. These I just cut out with my paper cutter. (It works better than scissors for keeping things square, and it does the measuring.) This is one of the cards that ended up as a 3″ square.



Some cards weren’t photos, and included decorative elements. I removed these separately to use as embellishment later.



Sometimes I found that just clipping out a pattern looked really cool in the final product.



Sometimes I clipped out a signature, or a portion of a hand-written note. I like saving a few of those. I also made sure to clip out a few designs that included the year.

Whatever you do, DO NOT discard the card carcasses until you’re all done with the collage. You may need to fill in a few more squares, so keep them handy.

That brings me back to the collage. After I punched out everything I could, I started assembling the collage. I added some scrapbook paper amongst the card pieces to help bring everything together visually and create a home for some of the embellishments I had saved. When I was satisfied with the layout, I trimmed the white edges with scrapbook paper and glued everything down. Then, after it’s dry, into the frame it goes and voila – I have an unobtrusive way to display my holiday cards year-round.



And you know what – I can’t put into words how happy it makes me to see the faces of my friends and family throughout the year on display. It is my way of keeping the holiday season spirit throughout the year.


Turn a stack of cards into art