With the festive season drawing to a close and thoughts turning to new year, families across the country will be packing away their decorations for another year and restoring order to their homes. But while the artificial tree, lights and tinsel can be stored and reused in 12 months’ time, the mounds of Christmas cards received from far-flung relatives and former colleagues (many of whom you may not have seen for decades), pose a bigger problem. Of course you can always choose to dispose of them in your household waste, but doing so is contrary to every tenet about protecting the environment and, with a range of alternative options to consider, you can put your unwanted Christmas cards to good use without damaging the world around you.

Recycle them

It’s pretty obvious, but most Christmas cards are perfect for recycling, either in your household recycling collection or at your nearest recycling centre. By recycling them, you can be confident that they won’t take up valuable space in landfill sites and furthermore will be put to good use in the future as a recycled product.

Recycling your Christmas cards can also help to earn money for charity or to make a difference to a just cause. For example, donating your cards to Marks and Spencer or Sainsbury’s, via one of their in-store collection points, will play a positive part in helping to restock the tree population, with a new tree planted for every 1,000 cards received.

If you consider how many Christmas cards drop through your letterbox in December, your contribution could be vital.

Create Christmas postcards!

Although the tradition of sending Christmas cards dates to the early 19th century and is practised by millions of people across the world, there is nothing to say that you must send seasons’ greetings in this traditional form.

An alternative is to send a Christmas postcard and you can make effective use of your Christmas cards as well as saving money. Simply cut off the back half of the card and then across the middle horizontally to create a postcard-sized greetings card with a blank space on the reverse side in which you can write a short message.

Make next year’s gift tags

Another money saving tip is to cut off the back half of each card and divide the front into gift tags for use next year when you send presents to family and friends. These can either be taped on to gifts or tied on if you punch a hole through one corner.

These DIY gift tags are not only attractive but are also a great way to save money, as well as adding a little of your own creativity to your presents next year.

Recycling or reusing this year’s Christmas cards is an important way of protecting the environment and could also help to save you money in the future, meaning you’ll have more to spend on life’s essentials such as your health cash plan – an important way to look after your personal health at a price that is affordable.