What do you do with Christmas Cards?

Hey, folks! I’ve got a couple questions for you!

What do you do with Christmas cards, wedding announcements, birthday cards, thank you cards, birth announcements, etc after their time has passed?

On one hand, people put a lot of effort into making great-looking cards with photos and info about their families. It feels like something I should save in case I want to look at it again later or take a trip down memory lane.  It just doesn’t feel right to throw out a pile of photographs or family newsletters.  This is especially true for things like wedding announcements where people put a lot of time into designing them.

On the other hand, how do you store or sort them in a way that isn’t cumbersome or prohibitive? If a person held onto every Christmas card they ever got, after a lifetime, they’d have way too many shoe-boxes full of them. And let’s face it – once a Christmas card gets filed away in some cabinet somewhere, it’s not coming back out anytime soon. Maybe you’ll pull it out once every 10 years and reminisce… Is that worth saving them for so long?

What about letters?  Do you save letters?

I’ve got a shoebox full of all the letters I received while I was a Mormon missionary, and there’s no way I’m ever reading those again (no offense to anyone whose letters are probably in that box).  Actually, that’s not true.  I might read them again someday, and I’d probably enjoy the trip down memory lane.  Does that mean I should lug the box of letters around with me for the next 20 years?

So how do you do it?  Do you save them?  Toss them?  Archive them?  Digitally scan and save electronically?  Whatever system you use, go ahead and comment as I’d love to hear what you have to say.

15 comments to What do you do with Christmas Cards?

  • I have a big plastic tote in my basement that's labeled "Sentimental," and it's where I toss all the mementos I'm not sure what to do with. It's nice to go through it once in a while. I also have a box I save cards in. I sorted them a few weeks ago and it was amazing to see 20 cards from my mom over the years saying she loved me, and the valentine from my grandma who has since passed.

  • Anonymous

    I plan to be famous someday. I've purchased acid-free buffered folders for each missionary letter, and acid-free storage boxes with a rechargeable moisture absorber for each box. I keep them in a refrigerated room at a constant temperature so that they don't expand and contract, thus breaking down the acidic fiber component of the paper. In addition, I keep them dark so that no UV light can harm them or fade them. Each month, I recharge my moisture absorbers, and check the electronic humidity gauge which is wirelessly sent to a monitoring station. All of this is stored deep inside a granite mountain with a nuclear bomb-proof hardened concrete floor (to prevent the J type damage that comes from a nuclear blast). Oh, and I've also removed all rubber bands and other plastic derivatives so that there is no off-gassing onto the paper over time.

  • "go ahead and comment as I'd love to hear what you have to say."

    Someone sounds like Bill Roehl… 🙂

    I don't save them. My wife and I are both pretty anti-clutter. We have a box for things that are special to the two of us. It has cards we've given each other and other things. But that's it, just that box. I think I have a box with old letters somewhere too from when I was a kid.

    But I don't remember the last Christmas card or letter I saved.

    In fact, my wife and I just emailed our 3rd annual Christmas letter. We do it for a number of reasons, including frugality, being green, simplicity, and the understanding that the letter will be thrown away if we mail it anyway.

  • He's just trying to butter me up to help secure his win in best comment of 2010 over at LL.org

  • Ren

    I have a small bag of letters and notes that I've saved from the early 80s on. Those things are getting scanned as they're beginning to fall apart. Most are from my best friend in jr high and are hilarious to read now. Others are from my grandma and I love having those.

    Before you keep anything, ask yourself why you want to keep it. If it's because of the sender's feelings, don't bother. It's not going to be cluttering up their home. Their pleasure was in sending it.

    As for the missionary stuff, if you think you might want to re-read it someday, hold onto it. Or send the whole lot off to your mom to do something with. Aren't they the ones that usually put together missionary scrapbooks? 🙂 I used to visit teach a woman who was looking for a way to save/display her son's letters from his mission. I suggested she photocopy them all at a reduced size onto acid free paper and put them in the scrapbook.

  • Sarah

    So funny to read this right now, at this point in my life. My mom is "moving me out of her house" and I have been going through tubs and shoeboxes of old letters and cards. I have been throwing most of them away and only keeping 1 or 2 from people that have died or will be dying relatively soon. I like to tear off the front of the card and reuse for postcards or labeling presents for next year. Walking down memory lane isn't always as fun as it may seem!

  • Great question! I like the idea to rip off the unused fronts of cards to reuse. Meanwhile, I am completely random, saving tons of sentimental and non-sentimental stuff one year, tossing it all the next…

  • Liz

    I must not be very sentimental, as I pitch almost everything about a month after Christmas. I like to de-junk. I only keep personal letters written to me from close family members… but those are few and far between now with e-mail. I think my Grandma is about the only person who writes me letters, and I keep all of those in a file.

    Good luck on making such a tough decision 🙂 I think mission letters you will definitely want to keep to read one day, whereas pictures of your Great Aunt's cousin, twice removed, with a dog might be a good thing to pitch 🙂 Just saying …

  • I don't save them. However, without my wife's influence, I probably wouldn't throw them away, either, they'd just sit in the mail pile until it grew too large and got chucked. She is more proactive about these things than I am.

  • Thanks for your input everyone. Y'all might be surprised to learn that at our house, I was the one in favor of saving & archiving all the cards and Mel was the one in favor of tossing them all out. She won, and it's probably best that way.

  • Mostly I just save them in some box and look at them when I'm moving to find out what's in the box. This year, however, I found a good idea online. It suggested putting all of the Christmas cards (or even b-day cards) for each year onto a photo album or scrapbook page. I guess it's a fun idea to look back over the years at how families change and grow.

    Mel might me right, though, tossing them all out is easier!

  • Just to be clear- I didn't vote to toss out EVERYTHING. Stuff like wedding and graduation announcements of friends and family were kept, along with personal letters. It was mostly the mass mailed stuff that got tossed- and that only after they had been sitting on a special spot on our table for 2-3 years. Please don't take us off your mail lists! We still love getting your cards and updates!

  • marla

    toss toss and more tossing.
    i keep some on my fridge. i can't throw away family cards though when they have pictures on them… i see my little nephews and nieces peering out at me through my garbage and i have to go in and fish them out again.

  • Obviously, I rip the pretty fronts off the cards after Christmas is over and store them with the wrapping paper until next year when they will be used as To/From tags on gifts. Everything else is tossed. This is what Mom taught us to do! This year, for example, there were three separate gifts under our tree addressed with the disassembled component parts of the pretty snowflake card you and Melanie sent last year.

  • Codicho

    I had a big scan day once well 2-3 days actually & used a 60 Page per minute scanner just to scan all that garbage in. If someone asks me about them in the future. Hey hey I got it. Of course, it isn't organized electronically & it rarely is in most people's collection in their many boxes & file cabinets etc.

    I carry around all that junk in just a microscopic space compared to most