Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
I’ve never been sure what to do with old Christmas cards … they pile up, and I end up throwing them away months later, and always feel a bit bad about it. Do you have any better ideas?
– Not a Pack-rat in New Jersey
There are different schools of thought on dealing with old greeting cards, and I’m honestly not devoted to any particular option. Everyone receives cards from different people for different reasons, and not all of them need to be handled the same way. Here’s three easy options for dealing with your old cards … at least one of them should be useful to everyone:
- File them. Keep cards from important or well-beloved people in a filing drawer (or expanding file envelope), sorted by last name. Most importantly at some point you may well regret not having keepsakes of a departed relative or loved one. And more prosaically, it may be useful to see which professional associates have made the most effort to keep in touch over the years.
- Donate them. If you receive a lot of relatively impersonal cards from businesses, or you’re not the sentimental sort, you can put the signed back half of the cards into the recycling bin and donate the decorated front panels to a local school or day care. The children can then recycle the images for their own holiday projects.
- Re-use them. No, don’t white-out the signatures and send them to someone else next year. Rather, if you’re the crafty sort, you could use the card images for your own holiday crafts: Scrapbooks, holiday ornaments, or (taking a note from item 2) collaged holiday cards.
- Buy Christmas Cards made on recycled paper in the first place. If you really believe that Christmas cards are wasteful, you can purchase cards made from recycled paper to alleviate some of the guilt.
Whichever option you choose, rest assured virtually nobody will be offended to find you haven’t saved every bit of their correspondence over the years. And if they are, they’re probably also the sort of person who’s always looking for something to be unhappy about in the first place … you’d be doing them (and everyone around them) a favor by giving them such an easy target to focus on.