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10 Creative Ways to Reuse Old Playing Cards

Sarah is a yoga teacher, custom framer, babysitter, and artist. She loves painting and spending time with her rat, gerbil, and hamster.

Don't throw away an old deck of cards. Upcycle them into creative projects!

Don't throw away an old deck of cards. Upcycle them into creative projects!

Don't Throw Away Old Playing Cards!

Instead of throwing away miscellaneous items found around your home, reuse them for different purposes. For instance, do you see that old deck of playing cards? Don't throw it away! If a few have gone missing, that's okay. Here are ten DIY ideas you can do to upcycle those playing cards.


1. Tiny Journal

The cover of this tiny journal or pocket diary is made from just one playing card! It's pocket-sized, making it perfect for grocery and to-do lists, poems, and any random thoughts that come to mind. You can easily make this to be a great stocking stuffer.

Here are a few items you can use to decorate them:

  • Buttons
  • Craft gemstones
  • Twine
  • Old stamps
  • Scrapbook paper
Cut out the numbers for anniversaries or birthdays. To add some love or pizzazz, cut a strand of the hearts or diamonds to add to the scrapbook!

Cut out the numbers for anniversaries or birthdays. To add some love or pizzazz, cut a strand of the hearts or diamonds to add to the scrapbook!

2. Scrapbooking Embellishments

When making a scrapbook page that features a special number such as 5th wedding anniversary, playing cards can certainly complete the page. They add color and style as well as making the number stand out. You can also use them for their symbols: hearts for love or diamonds for wealth for example.


3. Alice in Wonderland Party

Playing cards make a great addition to any Alice in Wonderland-themed party. Since they are an important part of the story, you can pretty much put them anywhere and they will look great as decorations.

  • Hang them from the ceiling or tree branches.
  • Transform them into tiny men by adding paper heads, arms, and legs!

4. Gift Tags

Turning cards into gift tags is an easy and practical way to reuse playing cards. You can make them as simple or as fancy as you like. Try cutting around the border to create a different shape or add small embellishments. Punch a hole in the center and add ribbon for a finished look!

Turn playing cards into ornaments!

Turn playing cards into ornaments!

5. Ornaments

Playing cards are stiff, so they're a great item to transform into ornaments. You can alter the card as little or as much as you want. Add embellishments and hanging beads for a special effect.


6. Artists Trading Card

Artists trading cards are tiny works of art that measure 2.5 by 3.5 inches. Using a playing card is the perfect way to get started and works great as a base because of the firm paper. Use your creative energy and imagination to turn the ordinary playing card into a miniature masterpiece. Cut, tear, glue, stamp, and paint to make these little cards look fantastic.


7. 52 Reasons Why

If you have a full deck, you can put this project together for a special loved one.

  • On each card, write a reason sharing why you love him or her, like "you always make me smile" or "you smell good."
  • Punch a hole or two in each card. Make sure they're in the same spot on each card so that everything lines up perfectly.
  • Bind the cards together with a ring,

There you have it! Now you have the perfect gift for an anniversary, birthday, Valentine's Day, or any other special occasion.


8. Miniature Art Book

This miniature art book is put together the same way as the "52 Reasons Why" craft. It also features the art aspect of "Artist Trading Cards," where each card is altered. It's a multi-media sketchbook where you can see your ideas and images come together in a small and portable way. Experiment and use your imagination!


9. Garland

This easy-to-make banner would be perfect for a casino-themed party or even an Alice in Wonderland party! Just cut some red string that spans the area you need to cover, and tape (or glue for more permanency) the cards to the front of the string. Make sure to measure out the length so everything's evenly spaced out.

10. Decorative Elements

Cut out different shapes and designs using an Exacto knife or sharp scissors. You now have awesome embellishments you can use for anything: cards, art books, and any other crafts. Layer your designs for a special effect!

Questions & Answers

Question: What kind of inks do you use on these playing cards?

Answer: I would recommend using permanent inks or markers and letting them dry completely to prevent smearing. However, you can experiment with different mediums and see how they produce different effects.


Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on September 14, 2020:

Wonderful tip, thank you, Sam!

Sam Beckerman on May 21, 2020:

If you want to use any kind of paint/ink you can lightly sand the card first.

Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on July 23, 2019:

@Mary-Marg I think that is a wonderful idea! You could certainly experiment and try. Most cards, even the plastic ones, have a good amount of flexibility to them. Let me how it works for you!

Mary-Marg on July 23, 2019:

Could plastic cards be cut to use as a frame to hold a counted cross stitch project without cracking?

Margaret Ogilvie on October 04, 2018:

We are using playing cards in our craft session today. will send you a photo of activity and finished products. Cards were given to me from someone cleaning out a cupboard.

Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on June 22, 2012:

@RunAbstract Thank you! I hope you have fun altering your playing cards in unique ways. :)

RunAbstract from USA on June 22, 2012:

Really great ideas for up-cycling playing cards! Can't wait to start re-using mine!

Voted up and more!!

Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on June 20, 2012:

thank you so much! Reusing playing cards can be a fun alternative to throwing them out :)

Susan Hazelton from Sunny Florida on June 20, 2012:

what great ideas. I never thought of using palying cards for anything but card games. Great hub. Up, useful and interesting.

Dianna Mendez on June 16, 2012:

What great ideas for recycling those cards that are just tossed into a drawer. All so creative and useful.

Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on June 16, 2012:

@thranax Thank you! You are right, they are peferct for unique handmade gifts! I hope you have fun creating these little treasures!

Andrew from Rep Boston MA on June 16, 2012:

Very interesting ideas! I never thought of using playing cards as many of these. They make cute little trinkets or may even make a great gift!


Sarah (author) from Pennsylvania on June 16, 2012:

@Written Up Thank you so much! I hope you have fun reusing your old playing cards and other household items! :)

Written Up from Oklahoma City, OK on June 15, 2012:

Love these ideas! Can't wait to read more, welcome to hubpages.