Only so many cards can fit onto the mantelpiece, and many homes don't even have a mantel. The display of holiday cards calls for creativity.
Alton DuLaney, Craftsy.com papercraft expert and blogger (Alton on the Spot), tackles that dilemma in his own small apartment. He made use of a favorite display space in any kitchen: the refrigerator.
"I glued little magnets onto clothespins," DuLaney said. "Then I put the pins on the refrigerator."
This holiday, he used stick-on hooks and a hole punch, which makes the cards easy to hang.
"Those hooks are ideal for someone like me who lives in an apartment," DuLaney said. "They won't harm the paint. They're also great for hanging Christmas lights or a wreath on the front door. You can create a little display almost anywhere, then pull the hooks right off."
With a bit of ribbon or long wire hooks, cards can become tree ornaments; just punch a hole in the back page near the fold and hang.
Or string them onto a long piece of ribbon or twine and hang them like garland from bannisters or drape over bookcases.
Save favorite cards in family scrapbooks along with holiday photos. But what to do with all those other cards? Turn them into decorations and adorn gifts.
"You can repurpose those cards especially the pretty ones," DuLaney said. In his online classroom, DuLaney teaches two basic projects using old cards:
Make a custom gift bag. Start with a plain paper bag.
"Cut the design element from the front of the card," DuLaney said. "Paste it to the front of the bag; it's that simple. You can replace the string handle with ribbon or use multiple card designs. It's easy and it looks special."
Make gift tags: There's rarely printing on the reverse of the card front; use the space to write your gift tag. Cut out the design element and punch a hole.
Add a piece of ribbon. "Instant gift tag," DuLaney said. "Put one on the gift bag."
Students in Galt used holiday cards in a fundraiser to reopen their school library.
"The elementary school students themselves created a unique way to help raise money to keep their own libraries open," said Leesa Klotz, chairman of Re-OPEN Galt School Libraries. "In various after-school programs, students took old holiday cards, recycled and repurposed them."
The kids turned the cards into candy cane holders, Klotz said. "The cards were stitched together, glittered and a note from each student thanking the community for their help to reopen their libraries was written on the back."
The candy cane holders were sold for $1 apiece at a recent holiday fair at the historic Rae House Museum in Galt.
"Shoppers greatly appreciated the students finding a creative means to help the fundraising effort," said Klotz.
The problem of what to do with old cards may disappear as more people switch their seasonal greetings to social media or email. According to industry experts, Americans will buy a billion fewer cards this year than they did a decade ago. But that still leaves an estimated 5 billion greeting cards in the mail for all occasions, including birthdays.
Expect the cards that do get sent to have a more personal touch, say experts. Technology also makes it easier to create custom cards, personalized greetings that may become future keepsakes or ornaments.