Do You Scrap ?

By Kate Riley January 1, 2010

In our family, we sure do like to relax for those first few days after Christmas.  We eat a lot of cookies.  We veg in front of the TV watching movies and reruns.  We sing along to Christmas music and often rewrite the lyrics with unsuitable words.  We play with our new gadgets.  We sleep until 9 a.m. and rarely change out of our garish reindeer pajamas. 

Then lightening strikes around 6:55 a.m. on December 29th.

On that day, at 7:30 a.m., and after half of a pot of coffee, I become completely possessed.  I discard and recycle everything disposable in sight with wild and reckless abandon.  Stash, store, clean, go go go !   I’m a woman on a mission and I cannot be stopped !

Finally, three days later, the decorations are stored, the pine needles are vacuumed, and the dried out fried-to-a-crisp greenery is disposed of in the proper receptacle. 

Yet when it comes to the storing or stashing, disposing or recycling of Christmas cards, I hesitate.  For me, Christmas cards have real sentimental value.  album cover

Years ago, when I was first married, I began filing the best of those holiday cards in an oversized scrapbook.   

We receive a medley of greetings year after year, from the elegant cardstock of William Arthur, to the corny mass printed letters from witty relatives.

Many folks spend hours cataloguing their lives, and simply I cannot bear to part with any of these mementoes, especially if they contain photographs. 

Cause I get all gushy and mushy when it comes to sweet holiday pictures of families.

And how funny to document in this treasure of a scrapbook that we’ve received the very same card from 100 year old Grandma Verna for three years straight.   We’re pretty sure she doesn’t even know it. 

Now that’s priceless.

I’m a sucker for a great scrapbook, aren’t you ?  I love to thumb through their pages and look back on history.  There’s something about looking on printed pictures and mementos on paper, rather than a computer screen, that really gets me.  I keep our album on display in the family room all season long, and I treasure the looks on visiting friends’ faces when they see one of their old cards or letters nestled within. 

Look at our innocent faces, full of youth, yet to inherit our wrinkles, unaware that the next decade brings Y2K, 9/11, a real estate boom, two more children, a real estate crash, a crazy remodel, texting, Twitter, and all of the other recent phenomenons.  

christmas 99 

Our album holds many treasures, like cards from longtime friends. . .

christmas 03

. . . and cards from former colleagues.  This one is strangely reminiscent of my daughter’s requests on Santa’s lap just a few short weeks ago.

breach of contract card


The almanac holds old party invitations, family photos, and other precious memories of holidays gone by. 

Like that one year Mr. CG donated a rare coin in the annual Salvation Army kettle dual between the local police and fire department to tip the scale in the fire department’s favor. 

kettle duel

All the silly, sweet and sentimental stuff I treasure from Christmases gone by. 

05 invitation


I wish I had the skill and patience to scrap other life events like baby births or family vacations but I don’t.  Yet I do treasure this old album.  It’s the very last thing I put away in January and a great reminder of the joys of the season from years past.

How about you ?  What do you do with your holiday cards ?  Do you keep them ?  Scrap them ?  Toss them ?  Do tell !


  1. My mom and I take the non-sentimental ones, and re-purpose them as gift tags. You can cut around beautiful images on cards to make unique shapes and their artwork is better than any tag you could buy at a store.


  2. I hate to admit it but I toss the Christmas cards I don’t really love. I keep the really nice cards and the picture postcards. I like to pull the cards out each year and have them around the house.

    PS. I love your blog!!

  3. I actually do the exact same thing! ever since DH and I got married, and we started getting christmas cards w/pics or w/letters…I put them into a red scrap album, label the sections by year, and put the album out during the holiday season :) i especially love seeing how friends and loved ones from close by to far away change year by year ;o)

  4. That’s great…I actually do the exact same thing. I found a red leather scrapbook last year that I started putting my favorite photo Christmas cards in…I love that I can also scrap all of our own cards through the years. :)

  5. I keep all the cards and put them (loosely) in the years scrapbook. We love looking at them over and over.

  6. I was just having this dilemma this morning. I keep the ones with pictures and notes. But I have not started scrap booking them. I actually throw them all in a large ziplock bag and label it with the year and then just throw it in a Rubbermaid bin. I have cards for the last 3 years. I am like you in that I can not bring myself to throw them out.

  7. Now I feel terrible.
    I had never thought of anything so wonderful… I hate to throw the cards away, but… I do.
    I need to follow your lead.
    Thanks for posting this.

  8. I don’t keep the cards. We really don’t receive a whole lot of them. I do always keep the photos though. I look at them from time to time. Thinking about how much our kids have grown and friends that live in different states that we never see but always get a card from. I do love that. I do scrap but I do a page not books. I scrap a photo and not an event. I haven’t done it in a long time but I do plan on making time for it in the new year.

  9. What a great way to cherish those Christmas cards! Love all your pictures of your beautiful family. I would love to say I have been a great scrapbooker…needless to say, lots of pictures in individual boxes for each of our family members…still waiting to be placed in a special book. Maybe eventually I will have time to get to that project…who am I kidding?! lol Wishing you a very Happy New Year friend!!

    Hugs and love,

  10. I LOVE to scrapbook! It’s so much fun to go back and go through the pages. My mother made me one for my college graduation. It was so perfect and definitely had me tearing up.

  11. i save them & pack them with the decorations. then the next year, i look at them one more time before discarding them or cutting them up for gift tags, bags & cards.

    your scrapbook is a wonderful keepsake.

    happy new year!

  12. I like the book A LOT. What a great tradition. I don’t keep most of the cards we receive. I usually try to send the ones I can to St. Judes, but the photo cards go in the trash.

    I feel like I keep so much as it is, I just have to get rid of something. But, I agree that this would be a wonderful way to keep them. Where is the album from? I love it.

  13. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea! I think I am going to start doing this with the cards I received this year! Thanks for the idea! :)

  14. what a great idea! and such a nice album. it’s funny that you write this post b/c just now i’m sitting looking at a pile of stuff that i want to store, organize, etc and don’t know where to begin. beginning with my kids keepsakes. i haven’t even done a baby book for them b/c i don’t know if i should just put everything in a scrapbook or buy one of those baby books and just use that. how do you organize your kids things like photos, birth announcement, bday invites, etc.?? thanks!

  15. I also hold onto and horde my cards from previous years. I saw an idea on Martha, years ago, to punch a hole in the top corner and put each year on a binder ring. You can decorate little covers for the front and back with the year on it. Then each year is all nice and together. In theory, that’s what I am going to do with mine…someday:) Actually, what I have done for a few years is to put the photo cards on scrapbook pages, like you do. Only I don’t have them all in one book, they are scattered among all my chronological scrapbooks. But I love the idea of pulling them together into one, I think I may take them out and compile into one book. I like the idea of being able to look at multiple years at once.

  16. I confess I toss it, but what a wonderful idea! Too bad this year we hardly got any, I would start.

  17. This is a beautiful tradition, I like it!! I try to make the same, it´s a wonderful idea!

    Thanks for share!!

    And Happy New Year for you and your family!!

    Hugs from Guatemala!


  18. I keep our cards, just in our family albums. I like you love looking back and remembering. I saved my sister in law this year when she lost her only copy of their card from 3 years ago. I just popped mine out made a copy and all was well again. Thanks for your help earlier today, you are the best. Now I just have to learn Live Writer, the learning curve is not kind to uncomputer savvy people.

  19. This is really a lovely idea. I never can bear to throw away our Christmas cards, but I’ve not ever done anything organized with them. I really like the notion of scrapbooking them like this. There really is something rather magical about looking at “real” photos, isn’t there?

    All the best to you in 2010.

  20. I scrap everything! I adore scrapping! Digitial, normal, hybrid…the lot! The “main” cards stay in a box together, the pictures get properly scrapped in a “christmas memories” album and the rest of the cards go in the recycling. my house is too small to keep them all.

  21. I’m hugely sentimental and have never parted with a card of any kind from my parents, grandparents, siblings or my husband. Ever. :) I keep them all stored, by date, in Rubbermaid storage bins. My mom saved all of my cards when I was a child so I have those as well – LOL

    I’m a recycle freak, so I send all of my (and everyone else I can convince) Christmas cards to St. Judes Children’s Ranch in Nevada. There, they repurpose the cards and make them ‘good as new’ to sell again. It’s a wonderful non-profit organization that helps children who’ve been abandonded, abused, etc. This year, my entire company of 1000+ employees is following my lead and bringing all of their Christmas cards to work so that they can be donated to St. Judes. Awesome!

  22. what a sweet thing to do! i recycle mine (one time i made a candleholder, another time postcards)…


  23. How sweet! :) Your first Christmas card photo was just adorable. I just started saving the best cards this year. Not sure what I’ll do with them yet, but I’m sure by next November some blogger will have some fabulous Christmas craft I can try with them. ;) I like the ones with actual personal, written messages on them.

    I have about eleventy billion scrapbooking supplies, and I haven’t touched my stuff in a good 2 years. :s It takes so much time and patience…and I just don’t have it right now. Now I feel terribly guilty b/c I haven’t done anything with my younger daughter’s stuff. I print all of my best photos and put them in “slide-in” albums, so at least I’m doing that much. ;)

    Happy New Year!

  24. Too funny… I do something very similar to this and just posted about it on my blog!
    I love reading about others ideas too!
    Many Blessings

  25. Oh, I scrap. I scrap like nobody’s business. I made a scrapbook for my sister in law for Christmas. her first baby is due in february, and I made a scrapbook for her to add pictures to. I make christmas gifts, home decor….all sorts of crap LOL. I tend to take my obsession for monograms and scrapping on everyone else. :p

  26. Cards are like little pieces of art to me – love them and they are gorgeous (most) to toss…I hole punch the corners and put them on a “ring” (each year = new ring) and then attach fun ribbons or fabric scraps, etc…then at Christmas they all re-appear in a big french wicker basket that sits in our family room.

  27. In my kids’ younger years I tried to put their entire lives in a scrapbook. I began staging events having laid out the scrapbook page in my head prior. Someone once told me that sometimes the memories are just as good in your head. Which is where I now store most of them without guilt. Love your idea for the cards. Will consider. Thanks for stopping by my bloggy today, and, btw, diamonds are a girls’ best friend, you know. ;)

  28. I recycle the envelopes, sort out the picture cards, and then put a rubberband around the rest of the cards to save. The picture cards go in an album (or in a pile that is five years deep waiting to be put into an album) and the other cards go into a storage box. I’m saving them, just in case I want them for a project. I have quite a stockpile!

    I like your idea of putting all of them into an album. That’s probably a fun tradition for your family to look through the album.

  29. I LOVE this idea! I was thinking about starting something like this since it’s our first year as a married couple, but I get easily overwhelmed with scrapbooking. I would love to document everything important that happens to us, but that’s just not possible 1) because I’m not even close to being organized enough 2) because I don’t have a space to work on my scrapbooks where I can leave everything out and 3) I want to make sure that my main priority is LIVING my life instead of documenting it. But this idea is completely doable! And it gives me something Christmasy to scrapbook, which I’m always looking for. Thanks for posting the idea!

  30. OMG – that is EXACTLY what I’ve been wanting/meaning to do with my Christmas cards for years! I have saved most of them in a box for that purpose. It’s getting kind of unweildly large though – I really should do it this year. Thanks for the nudge. LOVE it.

    P.S. Love your blog too. I’m a relatively new reader, and am finding inspiration in a lot of your projects. Happy New Year to you!

  31. Every year I get out my decorative paper punches, scissors and other paper crafting tools and create gift tags and cards for the following year.
    They are original, beautiful, enviromentally friendly and it is alot of fun when the cards sender gets it back and they realize what it is.

  32. I do scrap. I have an album just for Christmas. I don’t keep other’s cards… but just do pics of our family at each Christmas. My favorite part is a Top 10 Blessings list that I put in it each year. It’s a good reminder of all we have to feel grateful for. Even when we are personally in the middle of the real estate crash (my hubby is a realtor and I work for builders)!

  33. The ones from my mom and daughters I keep and add to the tree. I have one from my mom she sent me 10 years ago that her mom had sent her in 1946 which was one her mother had sent her in 1924. I will send on to one of my daughters at some time in the future. The rest I cut into gift tags using either the pictures or inside verses. I also use them to cover bag logo’s which I recycle for Christmas gift bags.

  34. I am not a big scrapbooker but I love looking at all the materials in the craft store. I love that you do this with Christmas cards because it makes such a great memory. I am hoping to do more things like that in the coming year. The way I keep christmas cards for memories currently?…stick them in a Ziploc and label them with “2009”. So you see I need a little help:).

  35. Yes yes I scrap and ny christmas albulm is my favorite…I think it’s absolutley wonderful that you have this from the very beginning…thank you for sharig and perhaps showing a few ladies that you don;t have to scrap “everythinng”. Happy new Year!

  36. I recycle our cards via a co-worker who uses them in her craft projects. Fun as it would be to keep some of them, I think all the extra storage needed goes against my New Year’s aim of purging unnecessary paper :)

  37. I am new to your blog and love it. Your thoughts on Christmas cards and letters has inspired me to send more and keep more instead of putting them in File 13. The images on the cards are so beautiful and and short notes in the cards are worth keeping.

    Thanks for being thoughtful and purposeful with your world and helping to spread it to all your readers.

  38. What a great idea! I feel SO guilty for throwing the cards away year after year, but I just wasn’t creative enough to think of something like you did. We only received a handful this year anyway. I still have photos of the kids that need to be put in albums, but I don’t know where to start, and I don’t want them on my computer.

  39. Ohhh, what a great idea! I LOVE Christmas cards. Every year we send ours out and then wait for our mailbox to be flooded. It’s so much fun opening the mail in December! I just hate to throw them all away. Now with your suggestion I may just have to hang on to a few in a Christmas scrapbook. Thanks! God’s blessing, Sarah :D

  40. They are not organized well, but they are kept. What a good idea on how to keep them in such a way that they don’t become lost in a plastic tub in the basement for eternity. Will be trying this next year.

  41. I definitely save cards. I have several years’ worth that are in a scrapbook. I especially love the photo cards… it is amazing how quickly the time passes. I am 3 years behind in getting my cards into a scrapbook. I do cull through them and put the ones I’m saving in a ziploc storage bag, hoping that I’ll get around to it “next year.”

    It should be noted that I am not a scrapbook person. My poor kids have shoeboxes full of photos. In some photos I can only tell which kid it is based on my hairstyle at the time! Happy New Year.

  42. I definitely scrap! Actually I’m a digital scrapbook products designer. I like combining paper and digital scrapping in my albums. I save all my Christmas cards and bring many of them out each Christmas to display. Love the story of Grandma Verna and her repeated cards! Priceless! ♥

  43. Have you done digital scrapbooking – or less complex and more classy (I think!) – photobooks?
    That is what I have started doing to document my boys lives – each birthday I do a book filled with pictures and funny sayings and accomplishments (yay for potty training!). I am working on my third book this month. I am only missing my first born first year as I was then doing paper scrapbooks and can’t bring myself to redo it into a photo book!

  44. jessica, do you add to your photobooks stuff like bday invites, etc? i still have a pile of photos and keepsakes for my kids and haven’t gotten around to doing baby books AND haven’t decided b/w writing in those baby journals or doing a scrapbook (paper or photobook) adding all of their photos and momentos. i can’t decide! ugh..

  45. In Canada, we don’t really do the whole Christmas letter thing. When we get cards, I keep them for the duration of the holiday and usually toss them in the recycling bin after. Unless it’s a hamdmade card, or something really pretty that I can cut out and reuse in my scrapbooking.

  46. I have always made scrapbooks..
    utilizing cards and mementos from wherever and whatever we were doing at the moment.
    My Christmas cards with Photos are saved for a special Christmas book..and added each year after the holiday. My cards are usually cut apart for the picture/verses..or special messages from the sender..Sometimes gift tags are added for whimsical decorations to the page.
    Once decorations are up, out comes the album which is enjoyed by all..
    about recycling, before tossing the envelopes, I do make corrections/additions/updates to my address book. I usually snip the address label from the envelope and just glue it into my book.
    I have thought about the photo books which can be purchased..but for the present, I enjoy making my own..with my own unique and individual thoughts..
    ps.. i adore your blog!!!
    warm hugs, laughing smiles..

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