Upcycled Holiday Card Decorative Garland DIY


This is a guest post from Julia Marchand of Shutterfly.

What’s your favorite thing about the holiday season? For many, it’s crafting the perfect décor and gifts for your home and for the people you love—and if you’re a frequent Creative Bug reader, this is probably you! December is best enjoyed when nestled into a cozy den as it glows with string lights and serves up a warm reminder of loved ones near and far. If your home is lacking in that latter category, this upcycled holiday card garland DIY tutorial can help integrate photos of friends and family into your decor. Here’s how it works…


Step 1: Begin by collecting all of the holiday cards you can round up from previous years. It’s hard to discard memories sent from loved ones, so chances are that you have a stash hiding away somewhere. You’ll need a few more things as well:

  • Something circular to trace (such as a glass)
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • Ribbon
  • A sewing machine and thread (Don’t be scared by your sewing machine—this’ll be easy, I promise!).

Step 2: Start tracing those circles! It helps if the item you’re tracing is clear so you can make sure the subject of your photo is in the center of the circle. Trace around faces, phrases, words or pretty patterns. Make sure you check the backs of your cards as those often have festive motifs. Decide whether you want to stick with a color scheme or go for an eclectic look by selecting colors at random. Continue to trace circles until you think you may have enough.


 Step 3: Cut out all of your circles and line them up side by side with no space in between. This will allow you to see how long your garland will be. Stop tracing and cutting whenever you feel the length is enough!

Step 4: Roll out your ribbon and extend it several inches longer than your paper circles on both ends of the garland. Take note of how many inches extra you have on each end so you know where to place the circles later on. Cut from the ribbon spool and set aside.

Step 5: Get your sewing machine ready and make sure you have plenty of thread at the ready. Since you’re sewing into paper, starting a new spool of thread (or a new bobbin) midway could potentially cause it to unravel, compromising the life of the finished product. You may want to use a designated needle so you don’t dull one that you’ll later use in fabric.

Step 6: Decide the order of your circles and place them in a pile. Set your ribbon face up in your sewing machine and backstitch about an inch from the beginning of where your circles will be placed (remember that measurement you made before?).


Step 7: Start placing your circles over the ribbon and stitch into place. Continue to add one directly after the other, sewing them to the ribbon as you go. Double check that the top and bottom are in the proper place and that the ribbon is right in the center before stitching through each circle.


Step 8: After all of your circles have been added to the garland, stitch about an inch past the edge of the last paper then backstitch to end it. Cut it from the sewing machine and your garland is done!

Now you’ve got a fresh DIY project for trimming your tree! Maybe you’ll even want to add to it next year with the cards that are currently rolling in. Now go catch that creative bug and enjoy this warm and wonderful holiday season!

Julia Marchand is a serial crafter and home design expert for Shutterfly. She lives in her home state, New Hampshire, with her husband and adorable year-old son. Julia loves all things vintage and spends her time sewing, reading, enjoying life as a new mom. For more holiday décor ideas follow Julia on Twitter.