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What To Do With Old Greeting Cards – Clutter Or Keepsakes?

WRITTEN by CHRISSY, LAST UPDATED ON February 21, 2022

& FILED IN Home Decluttering, Home Organising 


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Got a pile of cards that you don’t know what to do with? Learn exactly what to do with old greetings cards right here. Tips and ideas for how to recycle, reuse, and more!

What to do with old greetings cards

Through each year, and throughout our lives we have lots of special occasions – birthdays/Christmas/wedding/new baby/moving house etc…, and one thing you can be sure about is that if there’s an occasion, there will be a card available to send to the right person with the right thing to say in it.

It’s great to be able to send something that can mean so much – and it’s equally fantastic to receive them on those important days. They mean so much as they show that people are thinking about us – and they mark a specific time in ours or a family members life.

They are special.

But when that event has been celebrated and a few weeks have passed, the question is what to do with old greeting cards that are now piled up and adding clutter to your home?

There are 3 categories that your cards could fall into at this stage:

  • CATEGORY 1 – To keep – for sentimental reasons
  • CATEGORY 2 – To keep – to re-use in some way
  • CATEGORY 3 – To get rid of completely

And in all likelihood, you’ll have at least a few in each of these categories when you sort through them.

So – let’s go through the steps you should take to work out what to do with old greeting cards that you get in the future (or any that you’ve already held onto…)…

Step 1 – Get rid of the obvious

It’s always a little daunting to see loads of piles of cards in front of you.

The thought of having to work out what to keep and what not to keep can feel overwhelming.

So – the first thing to do is to get rid of anything that stands out as a definite NO-GO to keep for any reason.

These are cards that are damaged, cards from someone you don’t know very well, or cards that don’t have a design that you love on the front.

These are your easy wins, and they can be put into your recycling bin and forgotten about.

That should have lightened the load a little, and got you motivated to carry on, so let’s keep going….

TIP – If you get rid of any cards – take a quick look at them for any messages that you need to make note of before they go. Things like a new address for someone, the name of a new pet, etc… – are often added by people when sending cards especially if they haven’t seen you for a while.

Step 2 – Ask yourself why are you keeping the cards?

It seems a strange one to ask, but so often in life we do things without really thinking about the results of our actions or the reason behind why we’re doing it in the first place.

Now – it’s not for me to say that you should absolutely get rid of all the cards because ‘why would you want to keep them?’

Far from it.

I keep certain cards that are precious in mine and my families life – and I love doing so.

Some that I’ve kept from a long time ago are so precious now as they are from people who are unfortunately no longer with us, and they are a little part of them that I treasure.

And this is where we tend to get unstuck first – because we think that we have to keep ALL the cards, so we don’t lose anything special.

Thing is – if we treat EVERYTHING as special, NOTHING is…..

So – be truthful with yourself – are you keeping the cards for a reason, or just because you feel you should?

Some examples where you may want to re-think:

  • You’re keeping the cards for your child(ren) – for sentimental reasons. BUT – will a child really want to be handed all the cards they ever received in their life on the day they turn 18? Are you assuming something that isn’t actually true?
  • You’re keeping the cards for yourself for sentimental reasons. BUT – when was the last time you looked through cards from, say, 6 years ago? Is it REALLY worth your time and space to keep them all if you’re not going to actually look at them again?

Sometimes we can think we are doing a great thing keeping everything, when actually we’re causing ourselves stress and hassle now and creating future potential issues as well.

So – take a little time and work out the reason you want to keep any at all. Whatever you decide is fine, of course – YOU DO YOU! – but you want to be proactive in why you’re doing anything, and not just do it because you think you should….

Envelope on wooden table with bunch of yellow roses

Step 3 – How many cards will you keep?

So, you’ve decided that you’ll keep some cards – but do you have to actually keep them all?

Keeping only a few is a great compromise between the harsh feel of culling them all and the overwhelm of keeping the lot, and it’s where most of us find ourselves ending up.

You can now give yourself permission to be selective, and go through your cards to decide which you’ll keep.

This of course comes with it’s own issues though, because who makes the cut? – whose cards stay and whose go?!

This can be difficult – just like getting rid of any sentimental items in your home – but always remember that the card has been given and received with thanks, so it’s done its part for the giver.

What you do with it after the event has passed is entirely up to you, and you alone.

As a rule – I tend to keep cards sent within our family (from me to my hubby, from hubby to me, and from us to our daughter), and a few others from other relatives/friends that contain a special message inside, or have a special picture on the front.

You pick the number/amount that feels right to you – and stick to it.

Greetings cards - stay or go

Step 4 – Where will you keep the cards?

Now – a few cards kept for each event in your life doesn’t seem too much at all, right?

But take a minute and think how many events there actually are in your life…. and in your kids lives….. and your partners……

They start adding up pretty quickly for sure!

So – it’s also worth bearing in mind the space you’re going to keep your cards, so that you only keep what you have storage for….

Having a specific place in mind will help you be able to rationalise how many you can have – otherwise you will start to fill every cupboard/drawer with them and you will start to resent them rather than treasure them.

TIP – Store ONLY the parts of the card you want to look at again if you’re short on space. Maybe you could just keep the inside of a card because the note from the sender is lovely, or the picture on the card is special in some way. Feel free to cut out the parts that are special and then you will save storage space as well.

Ways to store greetings cards that you want to keep

#1 – Put in an album / file / box

Nice and easy – but can get bulky pretty quickly. You could have a file for each member of the family, or for each year, etc….

#2 – Hole punch the corner of each card and use a ring clip to keep them together (again you could group them by year/event etc…)

#3 – Create a picture collage for your wall of the special parts you’ve cut out. This can be updated over time so you get a fresh look, and you feel like you’re still getting the most out of the card because you can keep it up in a way that works for your decor and not so it looks like you haven’t cleared them away since the event.

#4 – Frame the cards you love the picture of, so you get to see and enjoy them every day in your home (a great idea for cards that hold really special value to you, because otherwise you won’t see them if they are packed away, even if you keep them…)

But what if you haven’t got any storage, or don’t want to store cards at all?

Why not scan or just take a photo of the cards you want to keep (whether it be their words, or the front of them, etc…)

This means they are safely on your computer (backed up, of course), they will be preserved (because cards can get damaged and fade) – and you can actually recycle the physical card because you now have a digital copy to keep.

The beauty of doing this is that you can use the scanned pictures in Photo Books (as I do, mixed in with photos and scanned pieces of my daughters writing/artwork as she grows up, and pictures of our family each year), and actually have them in your bookcase so you can take a look whenever you want, and they take up a LOT less room this way.

I know in our family, even though we do have a handful of physical cards kept for sentimental reasons, we don’t ever look at these as they are stored away – whereas we look through our family photo books a LOT and LOVE that they have cards in them as well so we can see what we said to each other, what our hand writing looked like (great for the kids growing up) etc…

Thinking outside the box and taking pictures of the cards means you get to keep them without actually having to keep them – and it’s definitely a good idea to consider.

Step 5 – Can you reuse the cards you decide not to keep?

At this stage you may well have no use for ANY of your physical cards anymore (if you went down the digital route in step 4), or you may have a few cards that you didn’t get rid of in step 1, but that you now know you won’t keep after all.

What can you do with these?

Well – the obvious way to let these go would be to recycle them, but there could be a way that you can reuse them and save some money as well….

A great idea for these cards is to make the pictures on the front a gift tag for presents for people in the future.

Just cut around the design, use a hole punch, add some ribbon or string – and voila!

(You can of course recycle the rest of the card)

Tags can be quite expensive, so this can save you a few pennies over time as well!

What to do with old greetings cards

So there you have it – the answer for that dreaded question of ‘what to do with old greeting cards’

I hope this has helped make your decisions easier, especially in that you can keep the memory of that Christmas card, Birthday Card, etc… without actually keeping the card…

The trick (as with most things) is to only keep what you truly want, and to try and enjoy what you do keep as much as possible – that way your cards will become a joy rather than a burden.

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