Recycled Christmas Cards: Friends and Family Tree Garland

The project I created for today’s post uses recycled Christmas cards to make a Christmas tree garland that takes some time to put together so I wanted to post it now to give you ample time to gather all the materials so you can create your own.

Recycling ideas for Christmas Cards and Christmas Craft Ideas

I have been saving all the Christmas cards I have received for many years and have quite a collection and like to use them to make festive decor for my home for the holidays, like these votive candle Christmas card accents for my holiday dinner table setting. I love to find ways to re-use them. Here is another way I have recycled Christmas cards.

I have been working on this Friends and Family Christmas Tree Garland for a while now and happy to say, it is done.  My plan was to make use of all the photo cards I have gotten since I am not a scrapbooker.

 I thought how nice it would be to wrap my tree with all the friends and family who live far away and that we won’t see during the holidays.  Decoratively displaying the garland will bring them a little bit closer at least in spirit.

Now I can use it to decorate my home for Christmas and add to it every year. If you have all the materials gathered you could get this done in a day – I just took the long way around.

Christmas Card recycling ideas

The recycled christmas card garland is quite easy to make.   First you need to figure out how long a garland you want.  Estimate how many cards, sequins, beads, and jump rings you will need, then begin creating it in stages.  1.  Cut the cards.  2.  Punch holes in sequins and put on jump rings.  3.  Make wire loops for the beads   4. Assemble it. 

supplies needed:

  • 24 gauge wire
  • 1/8″ hole punch
  • Fast Grab Tacky Glue
  • Deckle Edge Ruler
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Jewelry making pliers
  • Large jump rings
  • Christmas Cards – traditional and photo cards
  • Variety of beads
  • Scissors
Christmas Tree Garland Ideas

Gather your Recycled Christmas Cards

1.  Cut greetings and images from the front of cards until you have enough to make a garland the length you need.  Cut the images out in all different shapes for more interest.  I chose to make my garland red, green, and white and only used cards in those colors.

How to make a Christmas Tree Garland using old Christmas cards

2. Punch a hole in each side of every cut-out.

Christmas Garland Making Ideas

3.  Cut a variety of greetings from the front of cards and keep in a separate pile.

Christmas Craft Ideas

Since I wanted all white greetings, I used the inside message for my garland, but you can use the front greetings as pictured above also.

Decorating Ideas for Christmas

4. I used a deckle edge ruler to give my cut out greetings a decorative edge.  You could also use pinking or scalloped scissors.  Punch a hole in each side of the cut-out.

Christmas Crafts ideas for trees

5. Cut out the photos of your friends and family from all the photo cards you receive.

How to reuse Christmas Cards

and punch a hole in each side.

Christmas Card recycling ideas


This step is optional, but I wanted to add a little glitz. I layered a green sequin onto a red one and used Fast Grab Tacky Glue to adhere quickly.

Decorating Craft Ideas for Christmas

Christmas Craft Ideas

Then I used a hole punch to make the center hole bigger for a jump ring to go through.

Christmas Craft Ideas

Add a large jump ring to each sequin.

Christmas Card recycling ideas


Create the beads with wire loops to connect the cards.  Thread wire through bead –

Christmas Craft Ideas

and then make a wrapped loop. For more detailed directions on how to make a wrapped loop with wire,  go here

Make a wire loop for a bead to dangle

Repeat on other side so that when you are done your bead looks like this.  Repeat on all your beads.

Christmas Garland Making Ideas

Assemble Your Christmas Card Garland

Attach the beads to the jump rings and close with needle-nose pliers.

Christmas Card recycling ideas

I used pearls and a variety of different styles of red and green beads.

Christmas Card recycling ideas

Christmas Card recycling ideas


Over doors, windows, mantels…

Christmas Card recycling ideas


Christmas Card recycling ideas

and your Christmas tree.

Christmas Card recycling ideas

Christmas Card recycling ideas

Christmas Card recycling ideas

Christmas Card recycling ideas

Christmas Garland Making Ideas

Christmas Garland Making Ideas

Garland is really just the start (or maybe finishing touch) for all of your Christmas decorating. Keep on exploring!

More Christmas Crafting Ideas

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  1. Beautiful. I am very interesting to it

  2. Christina says:

    Thanks for posting this and keeping it up this many years later. Brilliant and what a sweet idea.

  3. What a cute cute cute idea! I love it! I have loads of Christmas cards from friends and family that I keep each year because I am so sentimental. LOVE this idea! I had to share it to.

  4. Lilianna Grace says:

    So clever! Thanks for the idea and the email. Maybe I’ll try both. The over the door idea seems easy enough and you know how I love “good things simple!” Your the best, thanks for the help!

  5. Wow, I can see why this took so long to create-it is truly beautiful. Thank you posting these excellent instructions. I would love to try and make one of these myself and just posted about Martha’s version of the same thing…it is nowhere near as gorgeous as yours!

    Best wishes,

    1. Natasha-

      I just went to your site and fell in love. You have so many great Christmas decorating ideas. Can’t wait to go back for more.

      My best- Diane

  6. I would love to have you join me tomorrow over at our Sassy Sites blog party! It’s our Feature YOU Friday! Come by and check it out! xoxo

    @ Sassy Sites!

  7. mary beth says:

    Wow, what a great idea! I save my cards every year and love finding ways to repurpose them! We too have noticed a lot less coming in the mail, but our church has a big mailbox with every member having a little cubby, and we put cards in there and encourage everyone to use the money they would have spent on stamps on our Christmas missions offering. Your garland is a great way to use the photos instead of packing them away in a box somewhere!

    1. Hi Mary Beth-

      I knew I had to come up with some way to use them as I could not toss them or just store them. I am not a scrapbooker, if I was I probably would have made a creative scrapbook with them.

  8. FABULOUS IDEA! I just squealed when I saw this. Wish I had saved cards from last year so I can get a head start, shoot! Love this on the mirror, but could also see it as swags on a Xmas tree.
    What a great idea :)

  9. wow. that is cool. I can see where it can apply to other holidays and stuff.

  10. Like everyone else, I have a bunch of cards that I really don’t know what to do with and don’t want to throw out. However, I did start taking some of them and adding the signatures to my scrapbook layouts, but I’m so far behind on those it’s not even funny! But I might give this a try for my Mama. She would really love this. And it also gives me an idea that I need to think about creating a nice family photo to send out to family and friends for this Christmas!!


  11. Funky Junk Interiors says:

    How fabulous! The outcome on that big tree is really awesome.

    How on top of things are you to think Christmas already! I only think about it Dec 1st. LOL


    1. Hi Donna-

      Since I started making it back in 2008 I knew I had to have a plan to get my act together so this hoilday I would not be scrambling around trying to do everything in a short amount of time. I wish I was on top of everything!

  12. DeniseMarie says:

    Wow…it is so wonderful!! I just used old cards on my Christmas blog to make matchbox advents. I’ll link it into your party. :)

  13. Love it! Bring on the holiday cards!

  14. Crafty Mom says:

    I’m definitely bookmarking this! This is SUCH a cute idea!!!

  15. Every year I hate throwing away cards, so this will be a great project to do instead of throwing some beautiful items out, thanks!!

    1. Hi Erin-

      I can never throw them away either. I have been saving them since I was a kid. There are so many things you can do with them. One of my favorties was to cut off the front if the back was not written on and use it as a post card to write notes to my daughter’s teachers. The best part was that they didn’t cost me a thing and they were much more stylish than a plain piece of paper.
      My best- Diane

  16. Laura Ingalls Gunn says:

    A big “WOO HOO” for your finished project! Well done.

    My project only took 2 years to finish. :)

  17. Heidi Roylance says:

    I just LOVE this idea! And I love the beads to pull everything together. This would make a great gift for a special relative.

  18. Bridgette says:

    I get a lot of my Christmas cards from work. I take them and cut out the pictures and reuse them to make other holiday cards. Love your idea!

    1. Hi Bridgette-

      My mom used to make cards from them too. She would put them in packs and tie ribbon around them and sell them at the Church Bazaar when I was a kid. I guess I saw at an early age that you could re-purpose them.
      My best-

  19. beachhouseliving says:

    Wow that is a neat idea. Makes me wish I had saved some instead of putting in recycle.

  20. Hi Diane,
    I have boxes of Christmas cards, one of the few things I can’t toss:). A few years ago I made swags for our dining room chair backs, kind of cute but of course, not as detailed as yours. I just cut out the pictures, punched holes on each side, threaded wide ribbon through and tied to chair backs.

    1. Hi Chris-
      What a great idea. You could do this with any kind of greeting card for different occasions also. Birthday cards for a B-day party. Easter cards for an Easter dinner etc. Thanks for sharing your idea.
      My best-

  21. I LOVE this idea! I never know what to do with the cards we receive (though we get less of them each year *sniff*). What a great memory maker….

    I added some links from last year’s Christmas projects to your on-going link-up(s). It’s been fun to go back and see what all I accomplished in the crafting/decorating department thanks to blogging :)

    I’ll look forward to visiting the links often as the fall gets underway as I hope to do my Christmas crafting BEFORE the season starts this year :)

    blessings and peace,

    1. Hi Cindy-

      I, too seem to get less and less cards each year. I noticed though over the past few years how many “photo” cards we get. I hate throwing them away since they have smiling faces on them of my friends and family. This garland was one way I have come up with so far on how to re-use them. Thanks for linking up to the On-Going Holiday Project link up.
      My best- Diane

  22. Sydney @memorableminutes says:

    HI Diane,
    This is such a fabulous idea. I love it. In fact, since we celebrate Chanukah, a lot of our family and friends do either Chanukah or new year’s cards and then we also get some Christmas ones. It’d be fun to mix all of the seasonal words and colors and keep it out all season long and add to it, even yearly add to it – then you can see all the changes in the pictures too. Thanks for sharing this.
    And thanks for all your kind words on my scrapbook. It’s so therapeutic for me!
    – Sydney

  23. Oh you just never cease to amaze me. How cute is that! Diana