Christmas Card Clutter Creativity

It’s not often that I look forward to going to the mailbox. Typically junk mail, catalogs and bills dominate the mail we receive – except during the holiday season.

Starting around Thanksgiving and right through the New Year, I look forward to opening the mailbox to see who has sent us their annual greeting. No matter what holiday your family celebrates, there is a good chance you receive your fair share of greeting cards from friends, family, and colleagues each year.

And, if you’re like me, you treasure the annual updates received from near and far, but don’t treasure the added clutter from the additional volume of mail.

Over the years, I have developed a ritual for handling cards as they arrive, and making the most of the cards after the holidays are over.

Let me explain.

My daily ritual as the cards arrive looks like this:

  • First, I open and separate the cards from their envelopes. As I do this, I check to see if I have the correct return address. snowmanIf there is any question, I just tear the return address from the envelope and put it aside to check against my master list the next time I go to my computer.
  • I place the rest of the envelopes in the recycle bin.
  • I typically read through the cards first, and then hand them off to my husband to read next.

After he’s done, it has become a favorite family tradition to display all of our cards on this snowman stand for everyone to enjoy – all in one, well ordered place.

After the holidays are over, I find it hard to part with all the beautiful cards, but leaving our snowman stand out all year long isn’t realistic and would just become a source of unwanted clutter. So, I have started some new rituals for finding uses for them.

Here are a few ideas you may want to consider as well:

  • Make gift tags – Sort through your cards for those with light-colored backgrounds so they are easy to write on. These make great gift tags for next year. You simply cut off the card cover and use the entire cover as the tag and to decorate a gift. IMG_3218Or if the design allows, make multiple tags from one card. There are a couple tags that have now become family favorites that we save and reuse from year to year. My brother-in-law (Bobby) is disappointed if this one doesn’t make it under the tree somehow!
  • Place photo cards in a scrapbook – So many of the cards we receive these days are photo cards. I save these with my photos to be placed into a scrapbook at a future date. It’s great fun to see families grow and change from year to year.
  • Create your very own homemade gift bags- For those who are (slightly) crafty, cut out the favorite part of card cover and use to decorate white (or brown) lunch bags.
  • Make bookmarks – Again, pick the favorite design from a card and make a bookmark out of it to give away next year.
  • Donate your used cards – If you are not interested in any of the ideas above, or even after you choose to keep some for gift tags or bookmarks and you still have some left over, donate them. Ask around your local community day care centers or library to see if there is interest. Or, do like I do and send them off to the St. Jude’s Ranch for Children. Here are the details about what they will accept. Somehow this feels even better then recycling.

I’m sure there are many more ideas you all can share for both displaying your cards during the holidays, and making good use of them afterward. Share your ideas in the comments below. And just for fun, I would really enjoy seeing how you display your cards too, so send me a photo.

Happy New Year!

Ta-Da Tip Of The Month

USPS letter carriers have told me that the time of the year they dread delivering the mail the most isn’t during the busy holidays, it’s just after. Happy-New-Year-2016-With-Fireworks-8The reason? In one word: Catalogs. If you thought the number of catalogs you received before the holidays was a lot, brace yourself for the next couple of weeks.

Now is a good time to put a strategy in place to deal with catalog clutter. Here are a few tips:

  • Identify a space to store the catalogs you want to keep. If you order from a particular catalog often or you plan to place an order in the near future, keep it close by in a basket, shelf, or drawer so you know where it is when you are ready to reference it. Don’t forget to clear out this space at least once a quarter (ideally every month).
  • Recycle unwanted catalogs right away. If you receive a catalog you don’t recognize or have never ordered from, most likely your name was purchased from another retailer (especially after the holidays). Unsubscribe by calling the 800-number on the catalog and request to be removed, or use another service such as paperkarma’s smartphone app described below, or on your computer.
  • Go green. Reduce unwanted mail and catalogs with the PaperKarma app. It’s as simple as snapping a photo of the unwanted mail and pushing the “Unsubscribe me!” button. Learn more about paperkarma here. It may take a month or two to stop receiving the unwanted mail, but I have found it works beautifully.

Face it — managing catalog and mail clutter is never-ending. Develop a process that is well ordered and you can avoid letting the paper and catalog piles get the best of you. TaDa!

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