People don't send nearly as many holiday cards as they used to. I remember fielding a Christmas card list many dozens long back when I was in my 20s. Now, I send a handful every year and I keep up with friends and family on social media instead of on paper. And of course, I get the requisite number of paper cards from local businesses that haven't switched to e-mail for their holiday greetings.
But those cards still go 'round, and many of them aren't recyclable due to foil, glitter, and other decorative elements. What to do with them if you don't want to toss them in the trash? I have two ideas for you, one of which is a simple re-use and the other of which qualifies as upcycling.
The first is one I started years ago, when I lived far away from my family. Mailing holiday gifts often involves the bows becoming irretrievably squished by the time the package gets where it's going. My solution? Cut out a pretty image from a card and stick it to the package instead of a bow. It's sturdy and flat but also decorative, so the gift arrives in good condition. A few people started saving and reusing the cut-out bits, so some of those cards went around quite a few times before eventually hitting the trashcan.
The second idea is a bit more hands-on, but I promise, it's not nearly as complicated as it looks. Every few years, when the stack of saved cards has grown thick enough that I have a good bit of choice, I make ornaments from them. They look like this:
I keep some of the ornaments and give others as gifts. They look fancy but really, they're just a bunch of circles cut from greeting cards, folded, and glued together. I find the process kind of meditative. You can find instructions here.
While I was looking for a good set of online instructions (I've made these for so long, I have the instructions memorized) I also found these that I'm going to try next time I make ornaments from cards: a lovely "heart house" and some pretty stitched-together 3D ornaments.
So instead of tossing those cards in the trash, turn them into something you can give as a gift next year or hang on your tree.