14 Wonderful Homemade Christmas Cards

In a season full of canned greetings, it isn't hard to stand out from the rest of the Christmas card pile. Still, the following holiday card concepts all put your family's annual newsletter to shame.

1. A SHINING CHRISTMAS

Redditor webothlikesoup posted this family portrait last year, inspired by the movie The Shining. The card's inscription: "All work and no play make for a dull holiday. Wishing you a shining new year."

2. LIVING ALONE

Malsies is living alone for the first time this year. She put some thought and some time into her “family” Christmas card to celebrate (or mourn) that fact. The cat costume was the hardest part.

3. EVERYTHING IS FINE, MOM

Dick_Pricklestix moved to Los Angeles, and his parents are worried that the city could be a bad influence on him. So he created the perfect card to reassure Mom that he’s getting along just fine. This is only a portion of the picture. You can see the entire enlargeable NSFW image at imgur.

4. and 5. SEPARATE BUT TOGETHER

Dan Perdue via Facebook

Dan and Christina Perdue spent Christmas 2013 separated by thousands of miles, as he was in Afghanistan and she was in New York. Still, they managed to create their Christmas card together. This year, they are together.

They weren’t the only ones who had this idea in 2013. Redditor professor-science got a Christmas card from friends who had Photoshopped themselves together.

6. FAMILY LIFE

Christmas cards often serve to update friends and relatives on what your children have been up to. Hotincleveland and her husband EnglishTraitor let everyone know that life with two young kids is about what you’d expect.

7. MONSTER CAT

Redditor wgpubs, who has a passing resemblance to Will Ferrell, shared his family’s 2012 Christmas card. Samson the cat has taken over. No word on whether or not they survived that holiday.

8. READING IS FUN

Redditor skagandschisms received this card from his cousins in 2013 showing how the children are growing up. From the looks of things, they're growing up a little too fast. On the bright side, the card does scream “2013” in a way embossed lettering never could.

9. ALIEN ABDUCTION

Johanna Jenkins creates crazy personal Christmas cards every year. My favorite among them is her 2012 Christmas card, the year Santa Claus was abducted by aliens while making his rounds. See a gallery of her Christmas cards from the past five years.

10. DIFFERENT RELIGIONS

Redditor byfuryattheheart celebrates Christmas; his girlfriend celebrates Hanukkah. They met while both were studying photojournalism, so it only made sense to go all out with a multi-holiday card in 2013. The combined card, which is not Photoshopped, brings them together in celebration. They got the cards out just before Hanukkah ended that year.

11. THE GYNECOLOGIST

Professionals often send Christmas cards to all their clients, but few have the sense of humor of this gynecologist. The card was shared by redditor notmaygun. In case you are confused, this is an instrument called a speculum, dressed up to resemble Rudolph, the Red Nosed Reindeer.  

12. ADVENTURE TIME-STYLE

Personal Christmas cards are even more special when the creator is an artist. Artist ekg made this card for her boyfriend in 2014. It shows both of them in the style of the cartoon Adventure Time.

13. CALVIN AND HOBBES-STYLE

An artist named DD drew a card featuring his daughter and dog in the style of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes in 2012. Notice the distinctive snowman in the background. The charming card was shared by redditor inkybloc. 

14. A FAMILY TRADITION

The son of an artist, the-G-Man shared a collection of his father’s personal Christmas cards. They span 33 years, and show the growth and adventures of the family, from the first simple card (depicting just him), to cards that show his wife and their three adult children. When seen all together in this gallery, they tell a lovely story.

See also: 12 Wonderful Homemade Christmas Cards and 13 Wonderful Homemade Christmas Cards.

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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.


Getty Images

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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