You already know that postcards are the cheapest and easiest way to send a message through the mail—but you might not have realized that they’re also one of the cheapest and easiest ways to decorate your home, start paper crafting, or make unexpected kindnesses a part of your daily life.
Whether you’re wondering what to do with a stack of old postcards from friends and family, brought home more cards than you needed from a recent vacation, or have leftovers from your postcard subscription and want to use them for something other than mailing, read on for a list of the top 10 creative ways to upcycle, showcase, and otherwise make good use of your surplus postcards!
Decorate your space on a budget.
Postcards are the most affordable way to collect and display art prints: This makes them ideal for incorporating a variety of smaller pieces you admire into a larger gallery wall that makes a statement in your own personal style.
Thrift a mix of 4×6” and 5×7” frames (two of the most common postcard sizes) to hang postcards interspersed with larger prints, decorative mirrors, and art of your own; or simply set postcards out here and there as decorative accents and pops of color on bookshelves, windowsills, and side tables throughout your home. To bring consistency to the display, choose to focus on one or two frame colors like black or gold; you can easily use spray paint to achieve this look if you find frames in other colors that you want to use too.
I love gallery walls because they let me keep building out from the center as I find new postcards I want to display (which, in this line of work, is quite often!). Every time I buy a new mix of postcards, I tend to set aside one or two of my very favorites to display at home, at least for awhile before I send them out.
Murals made entirely from postcards are also a popular way to cover large swathes of your home office, dorm room, or any other wall: You can buy large postcard sets expressly for this purpose, or if you already have a stack on hand, you can face the cards backward and/or forward to show off your favorite designs, messages, or a mix of both!
Save your favorite recipes.
Yes, you’re most likely finding a lot of your recipes online these days—I certainly do, in spite of the collection of paper cookbooks I also love to flip through for inspiration.
But whenever you find a new favorite you plan to return to, either in a book or on a blog, I highly recommend grabbing a postcard from your stash and jotting it down, as they’re the perfect size to fit in standard recipe boxes.
Next time you make that recipe, rather than having your phone screen powering down right as your hands are covered in dough and you’re trying to read what comes next, following along from a piece of paper tends to be way easier.
It can also be super-satisfying to watch as over the years your recipes gain a patina of stains and splatters that one day will speak to which are your all-time favorites.
I love this DIY by Maurine Dashney that uses postcards as recipe section dividers; you can then use other standard postcards to fill the sections, or use recipe card postcards like these letterpressed ones from Post Rider Press for consistency!
Postcard collaging & paper crafts.
There are so many options here! One of my own favorite art forms is collage—you can craft a fantastical landscape using various viewcards from your travels, or mix and match words and image elements at random to create something completely unique.
If you like, upcycle your postcard art onto another blank postcard and put the new card right back in the mail!
I also love the popular practice of embroidering old postcards to add color, texture, and depth to the image, as in the simple design above! You can embroider them before mailing too; just be sure to add non-machinable postage.
Random acts of kindness.
Postcards are the perfect low-key way to hide a note that just might make someone’s day.
Jot down a story or a few quick words of encouragement, gratitude, or humor—then tuck it into a library book you’re returning, pin it up on a community bulletin board, or hide it anywhere else you think may create a moment of surprise and delight for someone when they least expect it.
Journaling & scrapbooking with postcards.
Whether you partake in the more traditional version of scrapbooking or simply tape a few favorite cards into your journal or agenda as you go, it’s great to add those ready-made images, alongside tickets and other paper scraps you collect in the course of your day-to-day life, to otherwise black-and-white pages of words.
Pro tip: Tape just the top edge of a postcard to the page so you can flip it up and read the message on the back again later!
Weekly writing prompts.
In a relationship of any kind—whether romantic, familial, friend, or pen pal—coming up with a list of questions or weekly prompts to trade answers to via postcard is a great way to get to know each other better or to simply have fun thinking about your answers.
Moorea Seal’s 52 Lists postcard set is a great ready-made way to trade answers to the same prompts with one or more people, but it’s just as easy to come up with your own list of weekly questions to answer together and use whatever postcards you please.
You can do this on your own too—come up with a list of questions to consider through the year at New Year’s (perhaps a list of your all-time favorite bands, your intentions for the coming year, or art projects you want to tackle next) and write a weekly response to create a tiny paper time capsule of your thoughts and favorite things through a year in your life.
Postcard holiday ornaments and gift tags.
There’s an array of ideas out there for upcycled Christmas card ornaments, and postcards work just as well! In fact, they probably provide an even wider range of imagery and styles.
Search the wide variety of templates available online or come up with your own idea, then pick the perfect postcard designs and color schemes for an easy DIY postcard gift idea at the holidays.
Upcycled gift tags are a great use of old postcards, too; slice them down the middle once or more, punch a hole near the top, and add a loop of ribbon or peppermint-striped string to attach to packages, boxes, and bags.
Postcard placemats & drink coasters.
Growing up, some of my family’s all-time favorite holiday decorations were the festive placemats my grandparents had made decades ago from piles of Christmas cards they’d received. You can do the same with postcards!
To create both placemats and postcards, simply cut up your favorite parts of their designs, adhere to thin cork squares or larger rectangular placemats, and finish with a coat of Mod Podge.
Don’t have cork board on hand? Slice the postcards up to make simple bookmarks instead!
Write to someone you don’t know.
If you’ve already sent vacation postcards to all your friends and still have a few postcards left over, I always recommend signing up for Postcrossing! The popular pursuit of trading postcards with strangers around the world is a delightful way to use extra cards you may not otherwise have an immediate recipient for. Then, in a matter of weeks, you’ll start to receive some surprise cards of your own in the mail—which you can use for any of the purposes listed above!
Another great way to find recipients for unsent cards is through some of my favorite postcard-accepting charities, including Braid Mission, which works with foster youth in California and accepts messages to share on their birthdays or transition days, and Love for Our Elders, which collects bundles of mail for older people experiencing stints of loneliness or hardship.
Use them in your wedding.
There’s a nearly limitless array of ways to use postcards in your wedding, including as your escort cards, table numbers, favors, guest book, and more!
Once the early push of locking in your vendors and sending save-the-dates has subsided, embrace the more enjoyable elements of wedding planning with creative DIYs. Check out our complete list of clever postcard DIY ideas for weddings here!
Find the perfect postcards for your DIY project in our postcard shop—with free shipping on every order!