By Lindsay Small
Don't throw your Christmas cards away! There are so many creative ways to use your Christmas cards, many of which you can do with your kids. We have brought together some ideas below.
Christmas jigsaw game:
Make a Christmas jigsaw game. Gather 10-20 cards and cut each one into 3 or 4 pieces, using straight lines. Shuffle them up and lay them out on a flat service such as a dining table or the floor - then put them back together again! Store the cards in a shoebox for next time. This is fun on a quiet family evening at the beginning of the season as it helps to get everybody into the Christmas spirit!
Christmas tree ornaments:
Make cinnamon stick ornaments for the Christmas tree. Wrap a small bundle of cinnamon sticks together with a pretty ribbon tied in a bow (leave a loop for hanging). Using a small dab of glue, attach a pretty shape cut from a Christmas card with pinking shears to the centre of the ribbon bow to finish the ornament off. These look pretty and smell delicious too!
Make scented sachets to give as gifts or fragrance your own home. Simply glue the bottom and side edges of the card together and then slip a small amount of potpourri (or a cotton ball on which you have dropped a little Christmas essential oil) into the space. Use a hole punch to make two holes on the top edge, through which you can thread a pretty ribbon before tying a bow. If you leave a loop in the ribbon, the sachets can be hung on door handles, coat hooks or radiators (the heat will help to release the scent, but it won't last as long) to create a welcoming, Christmas atmosphere.
Christmas mobile or "string":
Cut shapes out of the cards in matching pairs. Hearts work nicely, as do simple Christmas tree shapes and even plain squares and circles. Stick the cards back to back and laminate them, then punch a hole in them and use to make a colorful and child-friendly mobile or "string" to decorate next year. You could add to this every year. As a variation, you could back each shape with a plain-colored piece of card or construction paper and write on it the date and name of the person who sent the card.
Christmas card game:
Cut playing-card shapes out of the cards, stick a piece of plain card over any writing if necessary, and use to make a Christmas game or quiz for your children to play next year. Laminate to protect.
A traditional activity, but one which never fails to amuse the kids, is making gift tags for next year's presents. Use pinking sheers, a hole punch, and leftover ribbon
Make gift bags for next year by saving smart paper bags. Cut a nice shape out of each card and stick it to the front of the bag (covering any shop labels if necessary). Sometimes one Christmas card will yield many different bag decorations! Add a little ribbon bow just above the card and wrap your present in tissue paper before putting it into the bag. This looks lovely with brown paper bags and tartan ribbons.
Miniature Christmas cards:
Some Christmas card designs can be cut and folded into miniature Christmas cards for the kids to give next year, or for decorating the dolls house.
Scan your favorite cards into the computer - and some of your favorite messages from inside the cards as well - and make them into a Christmas wallpaper or screensaver with a photo program. Children love this and it is a great memento if you do it each year.
Cut out the pictures on the larger cards, punch holes around the edges with a hole punch, add a shoelace or brightly colored yarn (with sticky tape wrapped around the ends) and you have a cheerful and cheap lacing card for little ones. If they are particularly popular you could laminate them to make them last longer.
Make some Christmas confetti to use next year (scatter it on the Christmas table, or put a pinch inside your Christmas cards and gifts!) Use either a plain hole punch or a special Christmas one (both together look great) and choose the most colorful areas from each card to cut. Gold and silver looks very effective, especially mixed in with red and green. Small scraps of leftover wrapping paper can be used too. You can keep the children busy with this for hours!
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