Posted on January 1, 2011

20 Tips to Repurpose Christmas Remnants

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Kate Forgach at Go Frugal has a fantastic article to help you get some extra life out of your Christmas accessories.

Opening presents is great, cleaning up after Christmas isn’t so great. It seems foolish to spend all that money preparing for one day a year then just stuff the remnants into a trash bag. (Hopefully, we’re not talking about this year’s gifts.)

A little planning can help keep your post-Christmas garbage-bag count down and put some cash back into your pocket. These 20 tips will help you repurpose everything from Christmas lights and wrapping supplies to cards and candy canes.


1. Get cash back: Don’t just shove those non-LED or worn-out light strings into a box to deal with next year. Pack them up and send them off to a Christmas light recycling program. They’ll shred your old strands and send you a 15-percent off coupon in return.

2. Repurpose: If you don’t want to bother mailing your old lights in, consider cutting up the wire into various lengths for use in the kitchen as twisty-ties or in the garden as plant ties.


3. Pot drainage: This is especially useful when you’re using large pots. Pour the peanuts in the bottom of your pot, filling it a quarter to half full, then pile on the soil.

4. Stuffing: Not stuffing for the turkey, stuffing for for decorative pillows, pet beds, etc.

5. Sell them: Packing peanuts are expensive, so stockpile bags full until you have enough to sell on eBay or


6. Placemats: This is a good way to keep the kids busy when they tire of Christmas toys. Take two Plexiglas sheets, glue cards onto one sheet and secure the second sheet on top. Seal edges with colorful plastic tape or a glue gun.

7. Garlands: Decorate next year’s tree, a staircase rail or curtain rods by cutting Christmas cards into various shapes, such as stars, hearts, circles, half moons, etc. Punch a hole in the middle of each shape and string them together on a fishing line. You could add to this every year. For easier garlands, cut the cards into strips and make old-fashioned paper chains by gluing the strips into circles and interconnecting them.

8. Napkin rings: Make napkin rings by cutting one-inch rings from a paper-towel or toilet-paper tube and gluing card cut-outs onto each ring. Color coordinate or mix-and-match.

9. Gift boxes: This one takes a bit of work. Make little custom gift boxes for small presents. Follow the Paper and More template. Be sure to make the lid a tiny bit larger than the bottom so that the lid will fit over the outside of the main part of the box. Cut the lid piece from the pretty front of the card, centering it on whatever part of the design you want to feature. Cut the bottom piece from the inside of the card. Use glue or tape to assemble the boxes.

10. Send to St. Jude’s Ranch: Residents of this home for abused, neglected and abandoned children recycle old greeting cards to make new custom cards, which they sell for pocket money. For more info about the program, visit the St. Jude’s ranch Web page.

11. Gift tags: Cut cards down to size with pinking sheers and use next year.

12. Post cards: Not many people write on the reverse side of a greeting card’s front, so cut the picture down to postcard size to send out next year. Postcards have the added advantage of requiring less postage. Maximum size is 6” long x 4-1/4” high. Minimum size is 5” long x 3-1/2” high.

13. Children’s word book: Glue cut outs onto cardstock or construction paper and make a little word book for young children. Bind the book so the picture is on the left — a star, for example — and the word “star” is on the right side. Great for home-schoolers.

14. Tree ornaments: Some cards are so ornamental they practically jump onto the Christmas tree. To turn your card into a tree ornament; cut out a figure on the card, glue or decoupage it on to heavy cardboard or balsa wood; cut to shape; punch a hole in the top; thread ribbon through the hole; and tie it into a bow to hang on next year’s tree.

15. Drawer sachets: Wrap 3-5 cinnamon sticks together with a strip cut from a gold or silver Christmas card and bond with a dab of glue. These both look pretty and smell delicious.


16. Window cleaner: You may have used newspapers to clean windows because they leave no streaks, but crumpled-up wrapping paper is even better. No streaks and no black hands.

17. Packing confetti: Remove tape and run wrapping paper through a shredder to repurpose as packing material for next year’s gifts.

18. Drawer liner: Iron paper that’s still in decent shape and cut to fit your children’s drawers.

19. Boot shapers: Crumble up used paper and stuff into tall boots to help keep their shape when not in use.


20. Coffee flavoring: Grind candy canes in a coffee-been grinder to make instant peppermint-powdered sugar. Store in a tightly sealed jar and add to coffee, cappuccino or hot chocolate.


  • Reply jenny January 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    Many christmas lights wire has lead in it to make it bend easily so you wouldn’t want to repurpose this wire in the kitchen.

  • Reply Germaine Jenkins January 1, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Old Master Gardener tip: If you grow citrus trees in your yard, string a set of the old school Christmas lights to help keep them warm when the temperature drops. You can also create an instant privacy fence/windbreak screen with discarded live Christmas trees.

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