Skip to main content
Control ClutterHow to Organize Your Life Blog

The Best Way To Declutter Holiday Photo Cards

By October 9, 2022October 4th, 20237 Comments

Recently I wrote about decluttering Christmas decorations and shared some tips to undertake this task without getting lost in sentiment or guilt.  A reader posted a comment asking what to do about the holiday photo cards. Here are my best strategies to help you declutter holiday photo cards.

Let’s admit up front that decluttering photos is a difficult process under any circumstance. These holiday photo cards are sometimes even more difficult. Typically, it is a photo of the family. In recent years, I’ve received cards that have a collage of pictures documenting the family’s highlights for the year. It’s so much fun to look at all the familiar faces and read the sentiments. However, no where on the card does it say you must keep this card indefinitely.  It’s time to talk about ways to reduce this collection.

How to declutter holiday photo cards

Play the Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers Game

Admittedly, you will not be receiving cards from strangers. This is the title of an organizing game created by Judith Kolberg. Professional organizers use this game to help clients reduce collections of things and it’s a good strategy to use to declutter holiday photo cards.

This is how you play. Get your stack of holiday photo cards and start dealing them into 3 piles. Friends are the ones you want to have over to your home for dinner. Acquaintances are the ones you say hello to but would not invite them over for a meal. Strangers are people you don’t know.

Since you DO know everyone who sent you a holiday card you may to define ‘Strangers’ as people you have not known for very long. Acquaintances may refer to people who have children in your child’s class and you see them at school, but you don’t hang out with them.  Friends are the ones you see frequently. You know them and their children.

Recycle or toss some cards

Recycle or toss the cards that ended up in the Stranger and Acquaintance piles. Those piles are probably not as big or as difficult as the ones that ended up in the Friends pile.

Take a second look

Go through the Friends pile of cards a second time and determine if you can reduce this pile any further. Remember your goal is to declutter holiday photo cards. Only keep the ones that are the most precious or perhaps the ones that come from your closest friends or your family.

How to keep and organize holiday photo cards

Photo Album

I keep some of holiday photo cards from my very closest friends and my family in a photo album. It is fun to look back and remember how my friends and their children and my nieces, nephews, brothers, and sisters looked in years past.

Since I will not get a second photo album in which to store the photos from these holiday cards once a year I re-evaluate the ones I am keeping. I spend an hour or so looking at the pictures and reminiscing then I decide which ones I can now release. This creates space in the photo album for the new photos.

Memory Box

You can also keep holiday photo cards in a memory box. Commit to having just one box to hold these cards. If you have lots of these cards you will need to declutter holiday photo cards once a year. Schedule time with yourself, just as I do with my photo album, to look through the cards and release the ones that no longer tug too hard at your heart strings.

The best way to declutter holiday photo cards is going to be the one that works the best for you. Pick one of the strategies in this post and try it out.

For more organizing tips sign up for my monthly newsletter and follow me on Facebook. If you, like my reader last week, have a question, please feel free to post it. I will do my best to answer promptly.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer® ,a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC and co-owner of Release●Repurpose●Reorganize, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia.


  • This is a great way to approach what can sometimes be such a daunting task. It’s difficult to toss things with faces of people who have taken the time to wish us well, but it’s ok to throw out cards!

  • I love the idea of playing the Friends, Acquaintances, and Strangers game. That’s brilliant! I always feel bad throwing out those family collage holiday cards, but I do. For the ones I keep, I would cut out collage pictures and Mod Podge on top of plain flat glass ornaments and add the year. This way, I can add them to the tree next year. =)

  • I’ve noticed that over the years we receive fewer holiday cards. It’s probably because we don’t send them anymore. Sending holiday cards used to be a tradition. But at some point after the kids left the nest, we stopped. One of my clients used to get A LOT of cards each year…hundreds of cards. And most of them were photo holiday cards. She kept them long enough to check the addresses and update her list. Once she did that, she let go of the cards…or at least most of them.

    I love your suggestion to use Judith’s Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers Game as a way to sort, edit, and decide!

  • Seana+Turner says:

    I love your idea of playing the Friends, Acquaintances, Strangers game to help you cull your collection of cards. Personally, I don’t keep holiday cards beyond the holiday. I keep a couple of the card that I sent, just to have a record of the passing of time, but I don’t keep those I receive. For me, they are a greeting. I enjoy the greeting and keep them for the holiday season, but then I recycle (or trash) them.

    I know my Mom keeps the cards from her children up on her refrigerator all year. I do find many clients have the cards for sure, so it’s good to talk about this category.

Skip to content