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Recycle and Repurpose Old Greeting Cards

Updated on August 15, 2015
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40 years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

So many cards.


So many cards

If you are like me, you just hate throwing away all those lovely greeting cards that someone took the time to find and buy with you in mind. From Thank You cards to Birthday cards to Christmas cards, I had quite a bouquet of them and loathed to toss any in the trash. Eventually I discovered several things:

  1. I can’t keep living like this. Soon we will be hip-deep in cards.
  2. There simply is no place to store them.
  3. Other than a misguided sentimentality, why am I keeping them.

They served their purpose. I was genuinely blessed that I was remembered. Now what? There were only two choices: drown under ever-rising current of cards, or recycle. Here are some of my recycle choices for the blessings of cards.

“Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization.”

— --Lincoln Steffens

Origami Box Pattern


Origami boxes

Step 1. Cut two perfect squares like the ones pictured. The one for the bottom of the box must measure 1/8 to ¼ inch smaller on all sides than the square for the lid in order to fit. You can cut these squares any size but, of course, you are limited by the width of the greeting card. Use the largest one you can find.



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Step 2. There will be no gluing needed on this box. Origami is the art of folding paper into a pattern without gluing or cutting. Because we are using heavy, cardstock paper, it will be easier to do a little cutting on this pattern. Follow the steps on the diagram. First fold the paper corner to corner to find the exact center. You can achieve the same thing by drawing a straight line from corner to corner with a ruler.

Then fold the opposite corners into the center. Fold both sides again into the center to make a hotdog shape. Unfold these and do the same with the other opposing corners.

With two opposing corners folded into the center lift the sides to a 90-degree angle for two of the sides of your box. Next make four cuts as in the diagram. Fold the thin flaps over each other to make one more box side. Fold the pointed corner over the flaps and tuck the point into the center. Do the same to the other side, making the final side of the box.

“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so, he must first forget all the roses that were ever painted.”

— --Henri Matisse

Origami Box instructions


Step 3. Do the same for the body of the box. You can use plain white paper for the body since it is the box lid that everyone will see. Fit the lid over the box body and done.

Origami Box instructions


“I can always paint very well with my eyes, but with my hands it doesn’t always work out.”

— --Kathe Kollwitz

Repurposing cards into cards

I love to create new cards from old cards. I usually cut the handwritten greeting part off and keep the cover of the card. I trim it to save the picture but not always the greeting. That way I can repurpose a birthday card into a thank you card or anything else.

Often the cover has writing even on the inside. This is no problem, as I usually glue the cover to another piece of paper to “frame” it and then glue those onto a new blank card stock. This way I put my own message inside. I have created several greetings in a variety of fonts to use on my homemade repurposed cards. I print them, trim them and paste them inside the card.

Making old cards into new cards

Colored paper to glue the cards onto helps.
Colored paper to glue the cards onto helps. | Source
Cut of the unwanted parts.
Cut of the unwanted parts. | Source
Put strips and pieces of cards together.
Put strips and pieces of cards together. | Source
Add shiny tape used for nail art.  Looks good on cards too.
Add shiny tape used for nail art. Looks good on cards too. | Source
Print a few words and voila.
Print a few words and voila. | Source

Pop up cards

Postage Stamps

I like to save old postage stamps off of envelopes because they are so pretty. They make great decorations and trim elements to greeting cards. Not to mention, they also add to the recycled element of these cards. I love using added elements like buttons, glitter, ribbons, lace, colorful embroidery thread, flat jewels meant for fingernail decorations, colorful nail art strips, etc. The possibilities are as extensive as your imagination.

Used Postage stamps for decoration

Just a few used postage stamps make a nice accessory decoration.
Just a few used postage stamps make a nice accessory decoration. | Source
Tags and postage stamps.
Tags and postage stamps. | Source
You can add little pieces of lace or thread bows too.
You can add little pieces of lace or thread bows too. | Source
Vintage photos (photocopies) and little flat jewels add charm.
Vintage photos (photocopies) and little flat jewels add charm. | Source
More vintage photos and stamps.
More vintage photos and stamps. | Source

One draw-back.

The thing about making old cards into new, is that you will need to recreate some inside greeting. Naturally you discard the old greeting that has writing all over it. Go to the computer and choose a font you like; type up the new greeting; print it and cut it out to glue into the new card. Here are just a few sample possibilities for your greetings:

Some Greetings:


Got another ring around your trunk? Happy Birthday


Congratulations! Nowhere to go but up!

Congrats! Now it’s time to take over the world.

Thank you:

Thank you, You mean so much to me.

It’s a good thing you can’t put a price on friendship, because I could never afford a friend as great as you.

Thinking of You:

You are on my mind a lot, and always in my prayers.

Mother’s Day:

A Mom is… Love you never outgrow.

Father’s Day:

Dad, you are the foundation I built my life upon.

Cut and paste


Gift cards

These are cut from painted paper, but the method is essentially the same.  Cut a picture, punch a hole, add a ribbon.
These are cut from painted paper, but the method is essentially the same. Cut a picture, punch a hole, add a ribbon. | Source

Gift labels

So many pretty pictures. All I do is choose a nice picture usually on the front of an old card, but sometimes from the inside, then cut around it. If it has writing on the backside, just glue some colored paper over it. Punch a hole at the top and insert some ribbon or yarn. Presto: you have a ready-made gift label.

“You are lost the instant you know what the result will be.”

— --Juan Gris

Recycled comments here.

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      3 years ago from Fresno CA


      Nice seeing you from Squidoo. Thanks for the comment. I agree. My kids loved doing crafts like this on a wet day.



    • kiwinana profile image

      Elsie Hagley 

      3 years ago from New Zealand

      Love the idea of recycling old greeting card, you have done a great job, your photos look very nice, children would love doing this on a wet day.

      Thanks for sharing.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      4 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I enjoyed this card hub as well, because making cards is so special. It is very "green" to do this also, and you get to use a little creativity. You don't need to be feeling especially creative, not as much as if you were starting with a blank canvas. I liked you reasons and reasoning you gave for why its ok sometimes to not keep saving all the cards. I get caught up in that! By now, I have too many. So I can use some, and still save the most special perhaps. I enjoyed it, and your examples.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      4 years ago from Fresno CA

      I sent only used/repurposed cards for the holidays this year!


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