Keeping Special Cards And Notes: 5 Tips and Ideas


Reflect on the past year and all the well wishes you’ve received from family and friends with these 5 tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes.

If you are like me, you have a goal to get more organized this year. One way you can get organized and also reflect on the past is by going through all the cards and notes you kept from family, friends and other loved ones over the last twelve months. Today we’re sharing 5 tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes.

These are great tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes you get during the year for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and thank you cards.

what to do with cards from family and friends

I don’t know about you, but the start of a new year always makes me a little sentimental. I enjoy looking back on the changes in my life from the past year as well as the goals I achieved (or didn’t!). Often times, these milestone events come with special cards and notes from family and close friends with well wishes and words of encouragement and kindness.

Throughout the year as I receive Valentine’s and Mother’s Day cards from my boys, birthday cards from friends, an anniversary card from my husband, etc. I toss them in a basket on our kitchen counter or in our office.

Then at the start of the new year, I gather all the old cards from the past year and put them away for safekeeping using a method I learned years ago from my friend, Misty. These are the 5 tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes I learned from her.

5 Tips and Ideas for Keeping Special Cards and Notes

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How to Pick out the cards you want to save

First you need to go through every nook and cranny of your home to find where you stashed the special cards and notes you received last year. Once you have a nice pile of them, you need to determine how you want to save them for the future.

Two common ways of preserving cards and notes are in a bundle or in a scrapbook. While I do think it’s important to be your family’s historian and keep an annual scrapbook, I typically create digital scrapbooks so I can easily have two copies printed – one for each of my boys.

Keeping special cards in a bundle – 5 tips

While I could scan the special cards and notes to add to my digital scrapbook, I prefer to hit the easy button and go with the bundle method. Here’s what I do:

1. sort the cards

Pour yourself a cup of tea, a mug of coffee, a glass of wine or your favorite beverage, put on a little relaxing music and read through all the cards you kept last year. Savor the kind words, accolades, and encouragement that your loved ones have bestowed upon you this past year.

Some may make you cry. Others will make you laugh until your sides ache. Either way, it can be cathartic to relive those big moments from the last 365 days.

2. Keep the ones that pass the rocking chair test

As you’re going through the special cards and notes, start sorting them into piles and keep only those that are the most precious.

I think of it as “The Rocking Chair Test.” Once these cards get stored away, I probably won’t look at them for years or maybe even for decades. Will the card I’m holding now mean as much to me when I’m 80 years old sitting in my rocking chair reflecting back on my life? Will I even remember who it’s from or the story that goes along with it? If the answer is no, the card gets tossed aside into the recycling pile.

I always keep the special cards and notes with long or heartfelt handwritten notes. I also keep the cards with sentimental printed messages or inside jokes as I know the sender spent time choosing the perfect one that matched the occasion.

I also keep the holiday photo cards I received from my closest friends and family members. If I received any special e-mails throughout the year, I might print those to save too. I throw away or recycle any that have just basic messages and a quick signature.

3. Tie them up with ribbon

Once I have a pile of special cards and notes I want to keep, I put them into a nice tidy stack. Then I tie them up with pretty ribbon like a package. If the ribbon is long enough, I’ll even make a bow. This makes the special cards and notes look more like a present. After all that’s what they truly are, right? — a precious gift from your nearest and dearest!

These are great tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes you get during the year for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and thank you cards.

4. label the bundle with the date

Write the year and what this bundle is on a sticky note or index card and slip it under the ribbon. This will help you remember when you’re sitting in the rocking chair going through them again when you’re 80! I often like to put a copy of our own family Christmas card from the year near the top of the stack before I tie the ribbon around it for this reason too.

5. place the cards in a plastic tote

Last, but not least store your bundles of special cards and notes in a large plastic tote or bin. While I sincerely hope your storage room or basement never gets flooded, you’ll want your cherished keepsakes to be protected from water damage, just in case. If you really want them to be well protected, you could also consider putting the MOST precious of the special cards and notes in a fireproof/waterproof safe.

These are great tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes you get during the year for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and thank you cards.

With these 5 tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes, your efforts to save them today will bring back so many memories for you in years to come. Many of those cards and notes may even become cherished family heirlooms for your children and grandchildren. You won’t regret it!

Do you have other great ideas for keeping special cards and notes from the past year? Please comment below and share. We’re always looking for new ideas.

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These are great tips and ideas for keeping special cards and notes you get during the year for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and thank you cards.

Updated February 2020.

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  1. I know I need to get a little more organized this year. I’m working in that though! These are great ideas, I have a few cards I’ll never be able to get rid of.

  2. One of the best ideas I’ve seen for hanging on to those special cards is to make a mini scrapbook with them. You don’t need to be crafty to do this – it’s simple! Just punch holes near the folded edges and use ribbon, yarn or binder rings, etc. to hold them together (or use a binding system like the Cinch – if you’re a crafter who has one!). Incorporate pictures that may go along with the holiday or other event the card(s) are for. Add the year to the cover, write notes in the cards about your memories …

    1. Mary, that’s brilliant! I love the idea of turning them into a mini-scrapbook. It would definitely make it easier to flip back through the cards to reminisce. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. As always, I love all your ideas. But I love “the Rocking Chair Test” ~ that is the best way to decide if you really need to keep a card!

    Thanks so much for sharing your creativity at the The DIY Collective this week! Please come back next week to show off your latest project!

    Have an awesome weekend!
    ~ Ashley

    1. Awwww, you are so sweet Ashley! Glad you like “The Rocking Chair Test”. It’s a fun one, isn’t it? Thanks for visiting from The DIY Collective.

    1. There are always a few that are extra special, right, Morgan! I definitely have several from when each of our two boys were born – such sweet reminders of that special time.

  4. I have been working on cards from the past and wish I had organized them all each year as you are doing. I’m putting them in page protectors in ring binders. I completed my adult daughter’s and gave it to her.

    1. Oh Bonnie, what a special gift that must have been! I bet your daughter was thrilled to get the book you created with all those sweet cards and notes you’ve saved over the years.

  5. I am not as much as a saver as I should be, but I love your meaningful “test.” What a great way to reduce clutter, too! Thanks so much for sharing this with us at Throwback Thursday! I’m looking forward to what you’ll have next week! 🙂


    1. Mollie, sometimes I worry I save too much which is how I came up with that “test” to begin with! Thank you so much for visiting us from your link party.

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