Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

January 7, 2010

One More Seasonal Tradition: Scrapbooking Holiday Cards


One of my last holiday traditions each year as I am cleaning up & putting away is to get out my square punch and attack our holiday cards.

My goal is simple: create a collage of faces and designs from the various cards we receive throughout December. I grab my punch and go for it. Over the years I have used different sized square punches depending on the number of cards. This year I used the Extra Giga from Marvy Uchida.

I did a little searching in my archives and found this post talking about the process back in 2005. Here’s an excerpt:

Since I am all about simplifying I came to the conclusion that I do not need to keep all the Christmas cards I received this year. I loved getting them. I celebrated each one that came through the mailbox. And now that Christmas is over I would still like to have a bit of a record of the cards from this Christmas, but I certainly don’t need to hang on to them all.

It is ok.

How do I decide which part of the card to punch? I think what I have always loved about punching is that I am taking a bit of something and bringing it together with other somethings to create an entirely new something. When I was punching I tried not to think too hard. I laid my punch with the metal side up, slid the card in, and moved the card around using the window as a guide. When I saw something that looked just fine and I punched. Some of the photos were too large to get everyone in the square and that was totally OK. My vision was to bring together a bunch of bits of this year’s cards – not preserve each one in its orginal state.

One thing I noticed this year is that people had their photos on all different kinds of papers: metallic, shiny, canvas, etc. This was definitely more of a trend than in years past.

And as much as I love doing each layout individually it is almost more fun to see all these layouts here together. Here’s a look at the past card layouts from when I first started this process:









I found 2008′s layout in need of a little assistance. When I found it in the 2008 album last night it was two pages with only the top two rows of photos on the second page. I decided to trim that off and attach it to the top of the full page (and use the Fiskars Apron Lace punch along the bottom).




What do you do with your holiday cards? Keep them? Toss them? Make something with them? Donate them? If you do donate them I would love to hear more about it.


  • 1.
    Lori said…

    So far I’ve always kept them, intact, because I enjoy looking through them again when I get out my holiday decorations and I worry that I will regret not being able to see the entire photo/card. I’ve always loved the holiday card layouts you’ve created though, so perhaps one day I will take the plunge.
    Thanks, Ali!

  • 2.
    kate said…

    That is a really great idea! However, in the UK there is not a trend of sending photo cards at Christmas. Usually the cheaper the better. Shame really! Great idea though, and one I will probably use on the wedding thank you cards which all seem to arrive with photos on. I always want to keep them but didn’t think of scrapping them all together. Would be a great memento of all the weddings we have been to! :)

  • 3.
    Jane said…

    What an amazing idea! I have always wanted to do something with the picture cards I get each year other than putting them in a box! I am running now to go get this years cards and punch away!

  • 4.
    Jennifer said…

    My sister punches out the fronts of pretty cards that are blank on the back, and uses them as tags for gifts the next year. She can get 1-3 tags from each card. Great way to recycle!

  • 5.
    Barbi said…

    I love this idea! This year I have saved a few of the card that I really like and of course the pictures. Some of the cards will get used next year for tags and maybe for elements in my Dec Daily but this idea I have saved for next year.

  • 6.
    janie said…

    I donate most of my cards to the Pathfinder’s (a co-ed club like girl or boyscouts). Then each year I help the kids design new cards with them (they love to cut and be creative. We take the group of kids to the nursing home and have a little party there, passing out cards, singing, sharing treats, and just talking and visiting with the people. My daughter loves it.

  • 7.
    Amy said…

    I love this idea! Its too late for my cards this year, as I have already thrown out most of them, but I am definatly doing to do it next year. And now that I think about it, I might do an extra page in my Dec daily with the few I have left. Thanks for the idea!

  • 8.
    janie said…

    Another thing I forgot to mention (I don’t remember where I read it…maybe in the chicken soup for the soul books)…I read that this particular family keeps their cards in a basket on the coffee table…and they pull one out during their family devotions and pray for that family then put the into the “prayed for” basket. When all the cards have been gone through… they start the process all over again…until the following christmas. I love this idea…

  • 9.

    I have always scrapped my photo cards received at Christmas, but always the majority of the card, hence, I end up with about 2-3 pages of Christmas cards in my scrapbook. It’s always a nice way to close the end of that years book, plus the older I get I’m glad I didn’t “cut” off other important information, like names. People come into and out of our lives so frequently in this mobile society its nice to look back to cards from the 80′s and have names to go with the faces. (not to mention a lot of people send just their kids on the card and who can remember what kids belong to what parents 20 years later?)
    Thanks for sharing.

  • 10.
    Ginny said…

    I don’t save the cards without photos, but I take all the photos and put them in a spcial photo album, only for Christmas pictures. We end up getting cards from the same people year after year so it is fun to go back and look at how people change. The photo album is always one of the first things I get out during our Christmas decorating and one of the last things that I put away!

  • 11.
    Amanda Susan said…

    I add some cards to my daily December.
    As for donating, a woman I work with has a daughter that goes to a special needs school. They collect the cards each year to use as craft supplies throughout the year.

  • 12.
    Amy said…

    wow, Emma and I made the cut in 2007 too! LOL! I have been very lax in sending Christmas cards the past two years. I am totally picking it up again this year! I love this idea and have done it the last few years.

  • 13.
    Christine said…

    I do the exact same thing with my holiday cards. I do like your idea for using other images from the cards as well. I only use the pictures, so it will be fun to incorporate the other parts of the cards as well. Thanks so much for your never ending suggestions! There always a bonus!

  • 14.
    paula said…

    I put the cards that have writing on them in the back of my December Daily. Those that have no writing go into the “Christmas” supply box and will possibly used in my DD next year.

  • 15.
    Arlyna said…

    Totally like this idea BUT I cannot seem to get myself to cut out any cards that we get. My husband also has a habit of keeping his cards. So we now have a huge box of cards which has moved with us from London, Taipei, and a couple houses while in Shanghai. We sometimes get drastic with throwing stuff out or giving to charity but not cards…

  • 16.
    Deb said…

    I use to keep all the cards in zip lock bags until I saw your first post. I love the idea!!! The christmas cards are slowing down with more electronic greetings but the family photos keep coming. But I wait until the mid January and crop them down to all fit in a page.

  • 17.
    Suzette Mahoney said…

    I punch a hole in the top corner of each photo or photo card I get and put them on a jump ring. I tie a little ribbon on the jump ring and make a little cover with the year. I put them in a basket for us to look back through…..thanks for the inspiration!

  • 18.
    mandy said…

    What a great idea! I was thinking of putting mine all in an envelope and including it in my December daily, but couldn’t figure out what to do about the different sizes that were larger than my book (I did’t want to hack up a few)….I think instead I will try some variation on this to make a few pages that can go in my book without adding too much bulk. And, if I cut them all, I won’t feel so bad!

  • 19.
    cheryl said…

    I save them, but not in any particular way. I have lots of “vessels” like tins that get collected over the season each year and I usually choose one to put the cards in. Then I put that tin up with all the other Holiday decorations. When I find the tin in the years to come, I open it and look through. This year I found a box from several years ago and found some handwritten cards from loved ones who have since passed away. Now those little cards are treasures and it didn’t clutter up or take up any real space. Almost like little time capsules in my crawl space. Thankfully, some people who send cards date them. That helps with perspective because they discoveries are random.

  • 20.
    Kim K said…

    I am SO doing this! Thanks for the sharing!

  • 21.
    Nicky from Canada said…

    Good Morning Ali
    I make two 12 x 12 layouts of all our pictures and specials notes (if I don’t have enough pictures – but always manage to) – they are posted in our front hallway for the next year. The following year after all xmas greetings and cards are in by the end of January – I prepare 2 new layouts, file the old in my scrapbook for the prior year and carry on. Love looking at all our wonderful family and friends during the year.
    Have a good one.

  • 22.
    amy said…

    What perfect timing! Just this morning I shoved the pile of Christmas cards in a drawer in a moment of indecision over what to do with them. I’m totally doing this! thanks Ali!

  • 23.
    may said…

    I save mine (who could throw away beautiful photos?) but now I know what I will do next year when I pull out the box of past photo cards. Scrap them! LOVE this idea so much – thank you for sharing!

  • 24.
    Leora Henkin said…

    I tend to keep my cards. I can’t bring myself to get rid of them and I do (sometimes) go back and look for specific things. I would love to make a layout like you do. Maybe this is the year1 thanks for the inspiration.

  • 25.
    Melanie said…

    Thank you so much for this idea! I don’t know how I have missed this since I am an avid reader of your blog, but I am rushing home today to start this project. I usually end up tossing out our cards each year after I’ve hung onto them for a few months. Thanks again!

  • 26.
    Noreen said…

    Cool idea!! Thanks for sharing =)

  • 27.
    Myra said…

    I took all of the traditional cards, cut cirles from them and made 3 ornament balls. I’m going to have to use your idea to scrap my photo ones, instead of tossing them into a box like I usually do, never to be seen again.

  • 28.
    Joy Buss said…

    I LOVE that idea Ali! I enjoy Christmas cards and want to be able to look at them again!

  • 29.
    Lori S said…

    I have always kept them, but never knew what to do with them. Thanks for the WONDERFUL idea!!!

  • 30.
    Karen said…

    I have the same plan as you had. I am going to use my square punch too! I have cards saved from past years but have not tackled the project yet….maybe i will do that this weekend. thanks for sharing yours!

  • 31.
    Lara said…

    LOVE this idea Ali!!!! I think I’ll do this with all our photo cards so much more creative than collecting dust!
    I typically send all cards after the holiday to St.Jude:

  • 32.
    Laura said…

    Thanks for sharing this — what a lovely idea.

  • 33.
    Linda said…

    I love this idea. I have saved so many cards with photos, and the letters that accompany them, but haven’t done anything special with them yet. I think that I’ll do this and add it to my Christmas layouts for that year!

  • 34.
    Emily said…

    something fun I’ve done in the past is take some of the cards (boxed ones) cut them into basic shapes, or cut around the main image to make lacing cards for the kids. It’s a pretty simple thing that they really like to do.

  • 35.
    Laura said…

    I plan to include the photo cards we received from our closest family & friends, probably intact, in my December Daily album, but might try a collage with some of the other “regular” cards — thanks for sharing your technique!

  • 36.
    Susan Raihala said…

    I have a whole scrapbook dedicated to the photos people send…it’s a great place for seeing how all the children have grown over the years! Like Lara, I send the card fronts to St. Jude.

  • 37.
    HeatherC said…

    In the past I too have scrapped them — however I have never used artwork from the cards — just the photos — i like that. Also, I like how you just used your square punch rather than try to crop each individual photo. I also create little name labels that I put on each photo — I am thinking this may not be necessary — hmmmm don’t know.

  • 38.
    Susan said…

    what a wonderful idea. i have tons of cards saved because i feel guilty throwing them away, this is the perfect solution. happy new year!

  • 39.
    Nerdgrl said…

    Every year, unfortunately, we seem to get fewer and fewer cards. And what we do receive tends to be computer generated. I do, however, try to make a LO each year, using a smaller square punch (hmmmm…I wonder where I got the idea?). Usually, it’s just a page, but I do like the idea of making it a two-pager with just the year on the first page.

  • 40.
    Erin B said…

    I was just wondering what to do with mine this year. I think I may lift this idea. In 07 I square punched my favorites and added them to my Dec daily and in 08 I put an pocket at the back of Dec daily to hold favorite cards (I recycle the rest). This year the Dec daily just didn’t happen for me so I need a new plan for the cards. thanks for the idea.

  • 41.

    I have been doing the same thing ever since this idea appeared in one of your books. I keep the layouts, along with a layout featuring our family card, in a Christmas album. During the holidays, I display the past few years on my magnet display boards (IKEA) so that everyone can enjoy them. I always get lots of compliments, and it’s fun to see how everyone has changed over the years…that is as long as they send me a card every year.
    I also love using the non-photo cards in this layout…it’s just like patterned paper!
    Thanks for the GREAT ideas!! Keep ‘em coming!

  • 42.
    Tappin' Tamara said…

    I love what you do with your cards and I will definitely try my hand at that this year! I have saved all the cards from the past several years and they are just mixed up in boxes that are in storage…I am embarassed to say that the other day I happened upon some that were still hanging by clothespins on the twine that I used to string them up in our windows! Now that I have succeeded in doing the DD album, I really think I will follow through with the card LO, too. I am thinking I may do these to fit into the DD album…Thanks for all the inspiration!

  • 43.
    Susan said…

    I cut the cards into pieces 2-1/2 x 3-1/2 to make them into artist trading cards. After embellishing, they go on my 7gypsies spinner to display next Christmas.

  • 44.
    elisa said…

    at the end of the season, i take my favorite ones, glue them back to back, punch holes in them and put them throughout my december daily album.

  • 45.
    heidig said…

    I make a little book out of five white 9 x 12″ envelopes (from Staples)that I fold in half to make 10 pages. I cut the picture cards to paste to the pages and the cards with no pictures get a bit of ribbon attached to them and are tucked inside the open end of the envelopes. I’ve been doing it this way for 3 years and love looking back through the books to see how everyone has changed.

  • 46.
    Loretta Artful Yogi said…

    I keep a few pics intact of our immediate family then use my punch for highlights like you do. If i really like the crd I’ll use it along with funny calender pages to next year’s Dec daily. I add the collage to my 12 x 12 album as my Dec Daily is already too full. Do you add this to your 12 x 12 or Dec Daily?

  • 47.
    Stacy said…

    Wow Ali! Another totally cool idea!! Typically I rubberband my cards together and hang on to them. The photocards stay up for several months after Christmas. Right now they are taped to my kitchen pantry. Once in a while I toss the regular cards in the recycle bin. Quite honestly, I never knew what to do with the cards, but now I do! Thanks for a great idea!! P.S. My word for the New Year is “abundance”. It’s already on your list from yesterday. Here’s how I’m looking at it: I have an “abundance” of stuff (clutter) in my home and plan to spend the year purging like crazy. I have an “abundance” of blessings and plan to record them in a journal. I have an “abundance” of photos that are still in boxes and envelopes. I plan to get them in albums this year. I have an “abundance” of daily stuff on my stay-at-home-mom plate. It’s stressing me out like crazy. I plan to purge some of that stuff too. I have been putting way too much pressure on myself. This is big for me. I love my little word and I thank you for inspiring me to do this.

  • 48.
    Leslie Murphy said…

    I scrap mine in a 2 page layout. Love loving back at them from year to year. We’re a young family, and my children enjoy seeing how their cousins and friends grow older each year. I currently mix my pages in with my albums chronologically, but eventually I think I’ll pull them out into an album of their own.

  • 49.
    tara said…

    i love this idea — i have a pile of cards that i just can’t bear to throw away. this is perfect.

  • 50.
    Valerie said…

    I have a “through the years” scrapbook where I put the picture cards I got for the year. Its a great way to see how families grow and children grow up!

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