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Recycle Greeting Cards with an Upcycled Christmas Card Topiary

Last Updated: Nov 15, 2018

The following post was written by Karly Wood of Life As Mama.

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When it comes to the holidays, there are so many things to look forward to: the food, music, decorations and of course– all the Christmas crafts! This festive time of year calls for all types of DIY projects and many times, you don’t need to take a $100 trip to the craft store to whip up a memorable craft.

This year, I decided to be more resourceful and put supplies that I already have to good use. While not everyone may have tons of craft accessories laying around, most of us do have a few year’s worth of Christmas cards at our disposal.

Instead of keeping piles of cards you’ll probably never look at again, why not make them into something useful? This year, try an Upcycled Christmas Card Topiary from Shutterfly Christmas Cards.

christmas card craft showing how to recycle old Christmas cards with a christmas sign in the background

The supplies are minimal and it takes very little time to make before you’re enjoying it next to your favorite holiday decorations.

Supplies for Recycled Greeting Cards Project

  • Old Seasonal Greeting Cards
  • Wooden dowel or Kabob stick
  • Wooden base or square piece of cardboard
  • Scallop shaped template
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Scissors
  • Felt or other fabric stars

supplies for how to recycle greeting cards

Optional Supplies:

  • Stain or Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Silhouette Cameo or Cricut cutting machine
  • Xacto Knife

Instructions for Upcycled Christmas Card Topiary

1. Start With the Base:

To start, you’ll need a wooden dowel and base, or you can use a kabob stick and a square piece of cardboard cut from an old box. I purchased a $3 bag of 15 wooden dowels and a 4-inch base for just $.99. The dowels were found in the kids craft aisle and the wooden base in the woodworking section at my local craft store.

Personally, I love dark wood so the natural blond color of my wood pieces wasn’t to my liking. If you’d like, you can use stain or paint to color your supplies to match your own decor. If you’ve never used stain, don’t worry– It’s easy and will instantly give your crafts that professional look.

On a protected area (I work in my garage with an old cardboard box laid down), lightly stain your supplies and allow to dry. Be sure you are in a well-ventilated area because stain is very pungent. My stain is Minwax in Jacobean and I have used it for years. It worked on everything from my own blanket ladder,  my daughter’s IKEA craft table, and some vintage wood crates. It’s a very small investment that packs a big punch.

wood and paint for how to recycle greeting cards

Stain does not take that long to dry on a small project like this, so check back in about 20 minutes and you’ll be good to go. If the stain isn’t what you hoped for, wipe down with a lint-free cloth before heading to the next steps.

2. Cut Your Old Christmas Cards

While you are waiting for your stain or paint to dry you can start cutting your old Christmas cards into something useful. For this project, I was given the opportunity to use beautiful holiday cards from Shutterfly. They have gorgeous designs, high quality paper and flawless photos– almost too pretty to use up.

These upcycled Christmas Topiaries are made by cutting old cards and paper into circles with scalloped edges in varying sizes. Because I am using just three card designs, I wanted to fill out my tree using scrap paper to give extra color. I found Christmas-themed paper in a large pad for a very reasonable $6 in non-traditional colors that matched the bright hue of my cards. I then interwove a variety of scrapbook paper in between the scalloped cards to give a bright and cheery design.

color paper for an upcycle christmas tree

You can choose to download a free scalloped edge circle template (just do a quick Google!) and cut each by hand, or you can have a cutting machine do it for you. I personally chose to have the machine cut all the scrapbook paper for me to make the process a little quicker.

You can also just cut regular circles, or circles using scissors with fun edges. The best part about this craft is that the pieces do not need to be perfect––the more whimsical the better!

3. Secure the Base

Once your wooden pieces are dry, use hot glue to secure the dowel to the base. Allow to dry.

recycle greeting card project with base

Make sure your dowel and base are secure before adding your photo cards. Once you have cut the amount of circles you like (at least three per size, ranging from roughly the diameter of your base down to about 1 inch wide), it’s time to start adding.

4. Add Your Christmas Cards

You can use a pair of scissors or an Xacto knife to cut an X in the center of each circle, which will make it easier to slide over the top of the dowel.

Slide all the way to the bottom, and continue to add more cards and paper, leaving a little bit of space in between each piece.

recycle greeting card project with cards

If you cut the X the right size, you should not need to add any glue– the cards will stay firm on the dowel. If you cut too large, you can always add a dollop of hot glue to keep them in place.

Continue to add your cut cards all the way until the top, making sure the “tree” narrows the higher you go. When all is said and done, you’ll have a Christmas Card Tree.

Christmas card craft showing how to recycle old greeting cards with christmas decor

I also added some old felt, adhesive stars to the top because no Christmas tree is complete without a topper. I stuck the two sides together, with the dowel in between and voila!

This craft came out amazing– I love seeing all the bright colors and glimpses of loved ones by using the old premium Christmas cards. It really brought the love and warmth of the season.

recycle christmas cards with shutterfly christmas card for a christmas tree topiary

Additional Christmas Card Craft Resources

If you liked this recycled Christmas cards craft and you’re looking for additional Christmas card ideas, make sure to check out Shutterfly’s additional Resources: