Sometimes it’s not the present, but the box that it comes in that gets the most interest! Here are 10 DIY ideas to upcycle old cardboard boxes for your kids’ fun!
Kids never tire of boxes. Stacking them, building with them, hiding in them, ripping them up… there are endless possibilities held within the four walls of a good cardboard box. They build imagination and creativity, plus they’re easy on the wallet and you can recycle them after you’re done! Who needs toys when you’ve got a cardboard box! Down with toys! Now, what are some ways to stretch your child’s play further and get full use of these boxes?
1. DIY train set
Your children can use smaller cardboard boxes and bottles to construct trains and then cut the boxes into tracks for them. You can also paint different-sized boxes to make stations and signs. And hey, why stop there when you can make a whole city, like this clever mama did?! With bigger boxes, you can create life-sized ‘cabins’ your kids can fit into!
Who doesn’t like dress up? This doesn’t have to be just for Halloween—boys and girls alike will love cutting up the boxes into different costumes to play pretend. Robots, minions, you name it! We’re in stitches over this roller coaster costume we spotted. Maybe a good alternative to the sibling get-along T-shirt?
3. Car, bus, airplane!
Next up after the miniature town is the real thing! Let your children construct race cars, airplanes, jet fighters… whatever they set their minds to. Now imagine this big enough to fit a child-size mattress—your child’s dream bed and Christmas is sorted for the next year!
4. Play kitchen
You could go out and buy one of those plastic kitchen sets OR you and your child could make your own customisable play kitchen. Panini grill, waffle maker, breakfast bar? Whatever your children want for their kitchen, they can create it themselves! And maybe make you some real breakfast in the meantime.
5. Homemade projector or VR set
How about a cool VR set, or a projector to watch Peppa Pig off of your smartphone? Your child will be mesmerised and you’ll get a full five minutes to do some work. And if you’re strict on your child’s TV watching, then hey, after they’re in bed, you and your significant other can cuddle up and laugh over funny YouTube videos, now on the big screen! You can make a VR set by watching this how-to, or a projector by watching this. Using similar principles, you could also make a telescope!
6. Floor canvas
Ever seen this brilliant idea on Pinterest? Try making a whole mural or floor canvas in the same way! Your profound little artist will thank you for the space (and you’ll save your walls from getting scribbled on!).
7. Cardboard castle/fort
What child doesn’t dream of a play fort or castle in their own room? We’re picturing tunnels and passageways from room to room. Heck, your family cat would love it! Your children can customise it however they want, with turrets or windows, doors and gates. It doesn’t have to be limited to a house or fort — why not a storefront or Hobbit hole? They can paint it or draw on it, put stickers on it, you name it. You might want to veto the moat, though.
8. Cardboard furniture
Cardboard boxes aren’t limited to child’s play. Stools, bookshelves, coffee tables, clothes hangers — people are using cardboard as a sturdy, lightweight and inexpensive way to furnish their home. With a good paint job or some creative upholstering, it doesn’t have to look budget or cheap at all. The best part is, if your child puts a permanent marker to it, you can always just make another one.
9. Cat house
If you have a pet cat, you’d know they love cardboard boxes just as much as kids do. So why not give your furry family member a sanctuary of their own by creating a doorway and some little windows?
10. Cute storage boxes
And last but not least, these aren’t just any old storage boxes. Why buy overpriced storage boxes that probably cost more than the contents inside? Make your own by using some pretty paper or fabric to cover up your cardboard boxes and no one will even be able to tell. These are perfect for toy boxes or even shelving separators for your closet if you lay them on their side. Just fold and tape the flaps in to reinforce the sides so they don’t collapse!
From there, you can make your boxes stretch even further (if you’re not already sitting on them!). File folders, snow sleds, puppet stages, piñatas — the possibilities are limited only by you and your child’s imagination! And at the end of the day, why not just hand your children the plain cardboard box and let them figure out a good way to use it. Chances are, they’ll come up with something you never could have dreamed of and they’ll find it more fun than anything you can make them do with it. Happy upcycling, mamas!
Lead image and castle image by Chapter Zero Singapore; Thomas the Tank Engine DIY image by Yuki; roller coaster costume image by F Delventhal; race car DIY images by Jessica Bernard for Sassy Mama Singapore; VR set image sourced via Wikipedia; cat house image by moarplease; storage box image by distelfliege