Solutions: Holiday cards offer decorating opportunities

Jeanine Matlow
Special to The Detroit News

If you’ve ever wondered what to do with all those holiday cards, you’re not alone. While each one represents a thoughtful gesture, they can pose a challenge when it comes to displaying and recycling them in creative ways.

As the cards start to arrive, gather some pieces you have on hand that you don’t plan to use in the near future, like a bread basket or a decorative box. Anything with a flat edge will work, such as a container with a rectangular shape that provides a sturdy place for the cards to stand.

If you plan to arrange them around a door frame, remember that what goes up must come down after the holiday season, so you’ll want to create a display that is relatively easy to remove. Make sure the tape you use to secure the cards won’t damage your surface.

Those who receive countless cards can create different groupings throughout the house. You might attach some to a mirror, hang others on a wooden ladder and secure the rest to a staircase railing as a colorful paper garland.

Look to anything tall and narrow, like a column or a coat rack, that can be transformed into a vertical backdrop for cards.

Consider covering a large corkboard for your display or attach some cards to a folding screen made from fabric or shutters.

Arrange your cards on a dining table and top them with a piece of custom-made glass. This can be especially charming when entertaining, as it will be sure to spark conversations. Replace the cards with family photos after the holidays.

A simple solution is to lay your cards flat in an overlapping fashion inside a large basket or tray for a more spontaneous arrangement.

If you plan to set your cards on a mantel or prop them on a table, keep them away from high traffic areas to prevent them from falling.

Create fun shapes by arranging cards in the form of a tree or wreath when hanging for a pretty display that plays up the colorful patterns.

Consider framing a few cards as a grouping. Look for common elements among them, such as color or theme, for consistency.

After the holidays, cut your favorites into gift tags for next year. Store them with your decorations or holiday wrapping supplies so they’ll be easy to find.

You can also cut certain sections to make lightweight, nonbreakable ornaments for your tree. Design paper candy canes, hearts and stars, or create letters for a memorable monogram.

This year, I got to choose two colorful holiday card collages from a friend, one for myself and one for my daughter. She made them with equal parts creativity and patience by painstakingly cutting the cards into little pieces and piecing them together before backing with colored paper for easy framing.

At the very least, consider recycling programs that go beyond the obvious to those that benefit charities, another way to make your cards the gifts that keep on giving.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at