Christmas Card Basket

What do you do with all your Christmas cards after Christmas has come and gone?

We’ve tried a few different things. Before the days of photocards, I would save the pretty paper and use it to make gift tags for next Christmas — and I would save any enclosed photos in an album, but those days are (mostly) gone.

This is what we do now. About 3 years ago, as Christmas mail arrived, I started putting it in a little basket so I could attend to it when I had a calm moment. Turns out, I liked keeping them in the basket, so I kept doing it. The basket has turned into a sort of Guest Book of Our Lives.

The basket stays out year round. Sometimes it lives in the family room or office. Once it even lived on the mantel because it looked good in the display I had put together. And through the year, I add graduation announcements, wedding invitations and baby notices. Because they’re stacked flat against each other, the cards don’t take up much space at all, and our basket can hold several years worth easily. If envelopes indicate a new address, I keep the envelope at the back of the basket until we’ve updated our records. Occasionally, I’ll clear out any cards we no longer need to keep, but mostly it just keeps filling up, up, up.

I love sitting with the basket every month or so to look through the familiar faces. It always makes me emotional — so many people that I love!

What about you? Do you keep holiday cards? Or do they hit the recycle pile with the Christmas tree?

85 thoughts on “Christmas Card Basket”

  1. great idea! i save the photo cards and prettiest Christmas cards packed away w/ all the decorations, but never thought to keep it out year round.

  2. We put them all over the wall that leads to the basement so we can see it every day… until the New Year. Then we put them away in neat little stack with the rest of the Christmas decorations. It is always fun to look at the last year’s cards while we are unpacking our festive decor and see how much people have grown and changed.

  3. Love both of these ideas (keeping photo cards in baskets, and using non-photos for gift tags.) I never know what to do with mine, feels like such a waste to toss them. Thx!

  4. We display ours on the wall or closet door just inside our apartment for everyone to see. I usually leave them up until February or so and then keep them together for a while longer. I’m not sure what exactly I did last year but I love the basket idea! After a few more months I toss all but immediate family and maybe a few close friends, those stay on the fridge until next Christmas!

  5. We keep them in a glass bowl in the middle of the table. Every night before dinner our daughter pulls one out and we pray for that family. It has become a tradition our family enjoys and our daughter never lets us forget!

  6. i love this idea. mine are on my fridge which makes for a very cluttered looking kitchen. i might try this. i also have a friend that has a scrapbook. each year she makes a page (or a few). this was she documents the growth and change of friends over the year. i’d love to try this.

  7. Ours go up on the fridge for the duration of the holiday and sometimes a bit beyond. (I admit, I’m having a hard time getting around to taking them down this year.) I like the idea of a basket to leave out all year and keep adding to!

    For our own cards I have a smaller scrapbook. Each year my mom makes a page for it with our card. I usually just stuff the cards from friends in with that years page and then pack it away with the Christmas stuff. It’s so much fun to pull it out each year and see the changes!

  8. What a fun idea! My ‘anti-clutter’ husband would probably hate it… but maybe if we combined it with the praying for families suggestion from another commenter. :) I usually end up with them stuffed in drawers because I can’t stand to throw them away.

    During the holiday, we tape/staple them to a long ribbon so that they are on display but it still looks neat and adds to decoration. Sometimes we need two! (I’ve also done the gift tag thing. You can use the card fronts for postcards and Christmas ornaments, too!)

  9. I love Christmas cards! I keep them in a basket during the holidays and then sometime in January (Feb? March? ) I move the photo cards to a photo album. I just can’t throw away photo cards. Since I’m unable to dispose of them I decided to make an official place for them – a cheap album from the drug store that I’ve unofficially named “Other Peoples Kids.” Someday I hope to put 18 or 20 years of Christmas cards together in an album for close family and friends. Would it be great to have your Christmas card history preserved and organized like that? That’s my intention, anyway. For now I just keep enjoying and collecting!

    My MIL keeps a basket of cards around through out the year, just like you do. I love looking through it when we visit.

    P.S. You’ll appreciate the Christmas cards from home even more when you’re in France! Due to slow international shipping we’re still receiving Christmas cards! I love it.

    1. We do the same, they are in a basket until I have “free time” then I scrapbook all the pictures! I love to look back on the few years we have, and think of the wonderful blackmail pictures we’ll have some day, HA!

  10. LOVE the basket idea! I never throw away a Christmas photo that’s been sent to me…..I would feel terrible since that person was thoughtful enough to think of me on their card list. I too love seeing how people have changed over the years. I’ve never had a great way of storing or enjoying them though, other than the fridge! I’m totally into the year round basket display of all announcements that come to our house. Thanks!!!

    How sweet of the one family that prays for a new card sender every night!

  11. I love this idea! It always feels wrong to just throw away all the lovely photos of people we know!

    I have to share with you what my Mom does with Christmas Cards. She makes beautiful ABC books for children with them (I posted about the books last week if you ever want to see her lovely books!). Friends and church members always save their cards for her since they know that she makes these books. I don’t know what she will do as photo cards have became the standard but she has hundreds for back up! Thanks for your awesome ideas!

  12. We keep ours in a pretty glass box on the hearth. Then next year we will put the old ones in the attic with the holiday decorations and await the new ones. Love looking at how much kids have grown and families have changed.

  13. You’re so clever! I am ALWAYS throwing out Christmas cards, and it makes me feel so bad! I put this year’s bundle in a white weaved basket on our living room coffee table. Festive, and thoughtful! Thanks!

  14. Not necessarily holiday cards, but for several decades I have saved wedding invitations or announcements and baby announcements and used them as bookmarks in my cookbooks. (I have a lot of cookbooks.) I started saving them because it was clear how much love and effort went into them. I love to come upon them. [Sometimes I toss one if the couple divorces. :( ]
    For years my mom has saved the photos from Christmas cards. She tosses them into a box labeled “Other People’s Children”. Fun to look through.

  15. I take all the photos (without the card trappings) and make a friends and family collage on an empty space we have in our family room. We leave them up to admire ALL YEAR. I take down these images around November to prepare for the next set to arrive.

    Once down, I add them to our Christmas photo album which has these pictures together with our family photo/letter for the year. It is really fun to see how we’ve all grown and progressed.

    With facebook, I suspect this tradition will continue to morph as fewer people print cards.

  16. I’ve never done anything with them. But now….I’m going to keep them in a basket! that is such a great idea, and it couldn’t have come at a better time, as I was just thinking of tossing them all today!

  17. Thank you! I need this idea. We have months and years worth of cards, birth announcements and thank you cards etc. I’ve never know what to do with them! We now have built-in book shelves in the dining room and I think they’re just begging for a basket of notes and cards.

  18. I love that idea! I’d never thought of keeping them out year-round/adding other fun mail (babies, weddings, etc).

    I do something different each year (tape them to a door, clothespin them to the blinds), but always keep the photos and recycle the cards.

    I’m totally inspired–thanks!

  19. This year we used previous years’ cards to fill up the frames on the giant photo wall in our kitchen. Instead of looking at the same old family portraits we do year-round, we had some cute reindeer and sparkly trees and letterpress holly instead. Easy and cheap and personal decor!

  20. We keep all letters, cards, announcements, etc in a birdcage that we used to hold envelopes at our wedding. Usually in January we go back through them to remember the past year. I pull out all the announcements and special letters which I tie off and date it for a shoe box that I keep in my closet. The year starts over and slowly the birdcage fills up again!

  21. I put all of our cards on a bulletin board that we keep up throughout the year. Then in January I replace all of the cards with the new ones! It is always such a pleasure to see the changes and new additions to our friends and families.

  22. I love this idea. Ours get filed away in the “personal correspondance” file. I like your idea so much better!
    We have relatives who do something similar to what you are doing. They keep a basket filled with little photo books from family trips and events. It’s great fun thumbing through them when we visit.

  23. I really like this idea, but I am too ruthless – I don’t even think I kept the congratulations cards when my son was born!

    I like to spend an evening with some paper punches and scissors cutting out gift tags to use throughout the year.

    Blue Skies
    Charlotte xo

    1. I am another person who pitches them, and I am more than okay with that. To each his own.

      We display cards in December as they come in, let them linger through about half of January to continue enjoying them, and then pitch them.

      I am on an anti-clutter crusade in my home, and this is just something that has to go. Also, I feel like I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own children’s keepsakes, photo albums and such that I don’t feel bad for not keeping the yearly photo of all of our friends.

      Anyway, I totally get it if you enjoy keeping them. I just thought I’d comment here for the sake of others that in my opinion, it’s *totally* okay if you don’t feel like keeping these things.

      Except my card. You’ll keep the beautiful picture of *my* smiling children, right? I mean, that one shouldn’t go in the trash. ; )

      1. I agree. Two years ago, I decided that I have enough clutter with my own life without collecting it for other people, too. I have saved the card fronts (without writing on the back) for use in frames or for my kids to send out as postcards. I save a copy of the letters and pics from my immediate family in a binder, but pitch the rest after updating addresses. I keep what’s meaningful to me, and hope that everyone else is keeping what is meaningful to them so that I don’t have to.

        1. So relieved I’m not alone!! I was starting to feel bad! I answered something similar on facebook’s post. I keep the very special ones (handmade or a grandparent’s card to my daughters) but the rest sort of gets mixed up with the decorations as we put everything back in the boxes for the next year. By then I enjoy looking at them one more time as we decorate the tree. After that, they end up heating our wood stove as I say thank you and goodbye in appreciation. It’s just paper and material and the thoughts that came with it stay in my heart not in my clutter. I think it’s better to free myself that way then to deal with the accumulating piles later and boy does it accumulate fast! I’m not that heartless ;) and make the exception for what comes from our kids, 1 niece and 2 nephews.

          I also used to cut out the very special hand written messages right out of the card and would put that on our fridge as little mood boosting notes. They made me feel special when ever I felt down. Probably the most effective way for me to use them but eventually they get tossed away too. It’s very empowering to let go and to free yourself when it starts to take over your space. It shouldn’t control you. Especially out of guilt!

  24. We keep ours in a decorated Christmas basket. I like that it’s portable. It has a handle making it easy to take wherever we want to look through them. When my married children come over, they pick up the basket and sit on the couch to look through them.
    After Christmas, I take all the photos, make sure they are dated, and labeled, and then put them in an album. One album has many years worth of photos. I just keep adding to it. So at a glance, I can turn to any given year of Christmas photos.
    The cards? They are recycled or used for scrapbooking regular photo albums, or making Christmas chains, etc.
    The newsletters? They are put in a manila folder. One folder for each year. A great record of what’s going with our friends and family.

  25. We put all the photo cards and photos we receive for Christmas on the side of our fridge in one big collage. We leave them up all year long! Everyone that comes in the house enjoys looking at them, especially the kids.

  26. I have a couple of bright red felt runners with ribbon and circle paper clips going down the middle that I hang down the doors in my house. When the cards come I clip them up and it’s so fun to look at them all season long!

  27. I put the photo cards on the side of the fridge. It turns into a big old friend/family collage and I love that.
    However, I have been trying to figure out what to do with the previous year’s cards- Do I toss them? do I put them in a book? I have beent hinking about making place mats with them or something clever/useful. But???

  28. that is part of what we do. all the paper cards (old school greeting cards) that we get go in a cute little green tin box that says “tidings” on it. it stays out all of christmas and the i usually recycle those cards. however, all the photo cards we get are put up on the inside door of my pantry. that way, every time i open my pantry i get to see all those lovely faces smiling at me… and it also doesn’t clutter up another wall in my home (so makes me feel sane that way too). we keep those photos up all year round and then switch them out the following christmas when the new ones come in the mail. then the old ones get put in a shoe box full of all the old cards and pics sent from people. i love to look at all those old cards too!!

  29. I love love LOVE this idea… I always feel so guilty throwing away the beautiful Christmas cards, wedding invites and baby announcements. And, I love looking at them at other people’s houses, so how nice to have a little basket available to browse through!

  30. Our little house has a perfect spot to display cards. I swagged some pretty red ribbon clipped all our holiday cards to it. After the holidays I keep the cards for crafting, either to make into ornaments or reuse as gift tags. This year our church also asked for old cards to use in a community Advent calendar that we made out of shoeboxes. Lots of fun!

  31. We have ten door-walls along the back of our house. Above those doors, I run twine along the top according to the amount of cards we get. We call it the “Choo-choo Christmas tree banner.” I hang the cards that fold open over the twine, and paper clip the ones that don’t open to the twine. In the end, we end up having a whole new Christmas decoration in our house given to us by the people who love us. It really ends up looking like a Christmas card banner. It’s my favorite Christmas decoration every year. I leave it up until the end of January. I have the cutest pictures of my son looking at it if you would like to see..

  32. We hung ours up on a ribbon strung across the wall with little mini clothes pins. It made a nice decoration. I keep every single one I get and I also keep the envelopes. When we take down the decorations I replace them in the envelope they arrived in (I love the stamps and postmarks and the ways that people address them). They all go into a large envelope marked with the year. I have got about five years worth now.

  33. I update my fridge with all the new pictures I receive, but I love this basket idea – may steal it for cards and invitations and announcements.

  34. I put them in a shallow crystal bowl or wooden bowl for the season then I tie them with a pretty ribbon and put them in a plastic bin the attic. In quiet moments which are few I look through them and have time to read the “Christmas letters” and have some coffee. My thoughts are: to make tags out of them for future presents or just save them until we grow old for our kids who will think they look like vintage cards or think I’m a crazy old lady who saves too much.

  35. We turn the cards into gift tags as well! I cut out any holiday sentiments and post the photos on the fridge. The kids love rearranging them during the year and I replace them the following year.

  36. Like others listed….
    we take the illustrated ones and make gift tags of them
    we take the photo cards and put them in a basket (!) and pull one each night for prayers. It’s always fun to remember the fun we’ve had with that family and then wonder what they’re up to at that minute.

  37. What a great idea! I teach grade one and love using the non photo cards to use as writing prompts or the following year. That way, my students get to write their parents a story as a Christmas gift.

  38. I used to put them on the walls as Christmas decoration. But, this year I wrapped all the picture frames in our apartment and put them there. My 2 yr-old daughter loved ripping the paper when it’s time to put them away. Christmas cards then go in a box with the rest of the decorations. I love the basket and Mara’s idea.

  39. I like the basket idea. I love taking a trip down memory lane and photos + cards do that. I do save any good papers, patterns, etc as I still receive lots of cards like that. I have also used the cards as tags in all shapes and sizes with decorative edges, etc. I had some really lovely illustrated cards and I thought next year I am going to turn them into some sort of Christmas display/decoration. Why not enjoy the images that really speak to me. I’ve also put aside some lovely cards to use as journal pages for next years December journal/scrapbook.

  40. In the past years I have used a hole punch in the top corner of the cards I want to keep and put them through a circle ring, use cardstock for the front and back and put the year on the front. It’s fun to take out the rings and go through them each year.
    This year we also took extra homosote board, covered them in red velvet and put them on an entry wall and used pins to hang the cards and rotate them. The red background was beautiful with all of the holiday cards. I think we will make a taller longer one next year and maybe find a frame and spray it gold or silver…looks so pretty.

  41. I do the same! I have a wicker basket that fits snuggly into a shelf, so from the front, you couldn’t tell it’s filled with old cards. I tend to put any cards (birthdays, halloween’s, thank you’s) that I get into that one basket – partially as a memento, and partially because some cards are just so pretty that I also imagine being able to upcycle them into a lovely project or ornament (if it’s a christmas card).

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