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13 Wonderful Homemade Christmas Cards

A year ago, I collected a dozen great homemade Christmas cards. There are plenty more out there! Christmas cards are so easy to make in the 21st century, thanks to digital cameras, email, and Photoshop. You’re only limited by your imagination -and plenty of people have great imaginations, which they are willing to share.

Daniel McConnell lost part of his right arm in Afghanistan in 2006. HIs fiancée Megan Duffey had a mastectomy in October of 2013. This couple did not lose their sense of humor, though. Their Christmas card last year was reminiscent of the O Henry tale The Gift of the Magi, with a humorous twist, as she gives him a pair of gloves and he gives her a red bra.

"We wanted to do something funny that would set the tone for our friends to ask questions," Duffey said. "If we can laugh at it, then (friends and family) can laugh at it and feel comfortable to come to us with questions."

Since the original photograph made it hard to see the bra, this image with a green bra came courtesy of redditor OneoftheZombies

Re-enacting the Christmas story is common for a tabletop or a church service, but this couple made it personal by putting the re-enactment on their Christmas card, starring family members. Since most of their family members are cats, they get some of the starring roles. Inflatable friends helped, too.

Many homemade cards feature the family pet(s), even if they aren’t dogs or cats. Jenny Jillon posted a Christmas card starring her pet hedgehog Euclid. As Rudolph, the Red-Nosed reindeer. Well, if a reindeer can fly and pull a sled, why not a hedgehog?

We featured John Cessna’s outrageous holiday cards last year, but he’s expanded the line. You can see several of his bizarre ideas that stray from his usual theme of being drunk and alone on Christmas. This one is a knockout!

Bridget makes a Christmas card every year that plays off the joke that she’s the only sibling in the family that’s still single. This is the latest card; you can find a collection of previous cards in a gallery at imgur. Contains NSFW text. At least this year, she’s not drowning her sorrows.

Redditor judokitten made a card this year that illustrates her dearest Christmas wish. That’s what happens when you have to listen to two kids singing the Pokemon theme incessantly. Of course, it’s a Christmas wish that many parents hold.

Redditor n33hai and his wife have two daughters. The older one has just discovered the joy of pinching, which imbued their Christmas photo shoot with personality. He’s selected this one to share with friends and family as a greeting.

Singer Kelly Clarkson and her husband Brandon Blackstock turned Christmas on its ear with their greeting card last year. Santa’s apparently had enough of this family and wrapped them up so he can enjoy some cheer himself! Clarkson was expecting at the time, and gave birth to a baby girl in June.

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Redditor moneyballbingo shared the Christmas card his grandma received from her mailman last year. This guy not only enjoys his job, he knows how to make people smile -and they’ll remember that.

Clifford and Lauren commissioned an artist to render them as mythical beasts for their Christmas cards. Considering the cost, I’d imagine they also have a large artwork in their home, since the picture itself is not Christmas-themed. Commenters imagined their children as seahorses.

Instagram member shear_hope re-enacted the Christmas talent show scene from the movie Mean Girls with her friends to make a Christmas card.

A well-done face swap. The card ignore_my_typo used last year had all four family members looking good- but wearing each other’s faces. It’s a document of their appearances at the time, if you can parse them out.

Lori Bale of Coral Springs, Florida, always has a creative family card for Christmas (and sometimes New Years, too). I particularly like this one, in which everyone took a selfie, including Daisy the dog.

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Animals
Want to Recycle Your Christmas Tree? Feed It to an Elephant
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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

When the holiday season finally comes to a close, people get creative with the surplus of dead Christmas trees. One San Francisco-based artist transformed brittle shrubs into hanging installation pieces. Others use pine needles for mulch, or repurpose trees into bird sanctuaries. For the average person, sticking it into a wood chipper or "treecycling" it as part of a community program are all eco-friendly ways to say goodbye to this year's Douglas fir. None of these solutions, however, are as cute as the waste-cutting strategy employed by some zoos around the world: giving them to elephants.

Each year, zookeepers at Tierpark Berlin—a facility that bills itself as “Europe’s largest adventure animal park”—feed the elephants unsold pine trees. The plants are reportedly pesticide-free, and they serve as a good (albeit prickly) supplement to the pachyderms' usual winter diets.

A bit closer to home, the residents of The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee rely on local residents to take part in their annual Christmas Tree Drive. In addition to being nutrient-rich, the tree's needles are said to help aid in an elephant's digestion. But beyond all that, it's pretty adorable to watch.

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5 Eco-Friendly Ways to Dispose of Your Christmas Tree
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What’s the environmentally safest way to dispose of your Christmas tree? It’s hard to say. Grown, managed, transported, and recycled efficiently, a real Christmas tree’s environmental impact should be near neutral. Unfortunately, not all Christmas tree plantations are equal in their environmental impact.

The most eco-friendly way is to leave the tree in the ground, where it belongs, so you never have to dispose of it. But then you don't have a Christmas tree in your house to bring festive cheer. One thing you can do is be environmentally smart when it comes to the tree's disposal. After this festive season, why not try one of these eco-friendly methods.

1. CHIP IT.

If you’re lucky enough to have access to a big wood-chipper, you may be able to chip the entire tree. Wood-chip is great as a decorative landscaping material. But if you really want to do great things for the environment (and if you have access to a lot of Christmas trees), you could make a bioreactor to denitrify water. Nitrates are put on farms across the world to help increase crop output, but a considerable amount is washed away into lakes and rivers where it’s disastrous for fish and potentially toxic for people. A wood chip bioreactor encourages the growth of bacteria that break down the nitrates in the drainage water, reducing the amount that gets into the water supply. It's not a simple project, however. To make one, you have to dig a big trench, get the water to flow through said trench, and fill it with wood chips. More info can be found here [PDF].

2. CRAFT IT.


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If your tree hasn’t yet let go of its needles—and you haven’t yet let go of Christmas, get crafty with it. Cut off small branches and bind them around a circle of wire to make an attractive wreath. This looks even better if some of the cones are still attached. If you’re feeling really adventurous, you could set up an essential oil extractor to get a supercharged Christmas scent. If you are already distilling alcohol, you have everything you need (here's how to do it). With a little less effort and equipment, you can make a weaker liquid called hydrosol, which is a fragrant condensate water containing water-soluble parts of the needles.

3. STICK IT.

Many legumes, such as garden peas, are thigmotropic, meaning that they respond to objects they touch, growing in coils along or up them. Needle-free Christmas tree branches have lots of twigs, texture, and knobby protrusions for peas and beans to get a grip on. This allows them to grow upwards strongly toward light. Simply stick a small tree branch in the soil next to each new shoot for a free, effective legume-climbing frame. Another advantage of this technique is that it makes grazing animals less likely to munch those tender green shoots, as they tend to avoid getting Christmas tree twigs spiked up their noses.

4. TREECYCLE IT.


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Come January, it’s cold, the festivities are over, work looms, and you’ve got too much on your mind to be thinking about dead Christmas tree horticulture or crafts. Fortunately, a simple solution is at hand: Most counties and municipalities now provide Christmas tree recycling points where you can take your tree for chipping. Some “TreeCycle” points will even exchange your tree for a bag of wood-chip or chip mulch. OK, this probably means that you’ll have to jam that Christmas tree into your car once more, but as long as you don’t have to drive too many miles out of your way, Christmas tree recycling is a quick and easy environmentally-friendly option.

5. DONATE IT.

After you’ve had your Christmas cheer, why shouldn’t fish have some fun? Several communities have programs in place where they’ll take your old Christmas tree, drill a hole in the base, tie a brick to it, and throw it in a lake. When humans create artificial lakes, they tend to be relatively featureless on the bottom for easy dredging. That’s great for us, but it means baby fish have nowhere to escape predators. Christmas trees provide a nice, temporary place for the fish to hide out and explore.

If, on the other hand, you’d like to see your Christmas tree mauled by a pride of lions, that’s OK too! Some zoos around the world take Christmas tree donations (but please remove all the tinsel first) and allow the animals to play with them.

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