February 16, 2010

Creative Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes

It’s been said that parents and grandparents should forego giving expensive gifts to the children in their lives, because they just end up playing with the cardboard box more than the toy! Cardboard boxes offer a wealth of possibilities, and not only as imaginative toys.

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Here are some fun and practical ways to reuse cardboard boxes:

Building blocks

[ad#ad-2] It’s fun to receive gifts and packages in the mail, but the small boxes can add up. Close them so that there are no open sides, decorate them with contact paper, wrapping paper, glitter, paint, etc. and use them for building and stacking.

Children enjoy these sorts of building blocks because they are so lightweight, and being larger they are easier for little hands. Of course, the sky’s the limit – big boxes can make great building blocks, too. If the box is really large, it can be a play building itself! Break out the markers, paints, and construction paper and decorate your playhouse.

Car or airplane

With a few simple modifications, a cardboard box can make a fun toy car or plane for a child to sit in. Cut wings out of the box’s top and attach them to the sides, then let your young pilot paint and decorate his airplane. A car is a simple innovation, too, and you can get as creative as you’d like by adding wheels, a top, a steering wheel, etc. As with the airplane, let your child decorate her car.


You can make flat or 3-D puzzles from cardboard boxes. The puzzles you buy in the store are, in fact, cardboard. Look online for patterns, and you can cut all sorts of shapes that fit together. Paint and decorate your cardboard before cutting it up, and use a sharp craft knife or box cutter to cut out the shapes.


Cut up your cardboard box and toss it on your compost pile. Worms love to get under cardboard and worms are what make good compost.

Flatten and store them

Cardboard boxes can be flattened along their folded edges and stored for later use, such as shipping Christmas gifts. They take up little space when broken down this way.


There are entire books dedicated to the re-use of cardboard boxes. Check your local library for some great craft ideas for cardboard, from rockets to hair barrettes to toy animals.

Animal bed

Cats especially love cardboard boxes for napping – put one in the middle of the floor and see how little time it takes for a kitty to curl up inside it. Make it official by covering the cardboard box with non-toxic paint or contact paper, and putting a folded towel or other padding inside. This would be a good dog bed, too, if your dog is not a chewer.


Photos, especially those printed on a home printer, sometimes need some reinforcement in the form of a sturdy backing. If you are going to frame a photo, paste it to a piece of a cardboard box and cut it out. Or, cut out the side of a cardboard box to make a flat rectangle, and paste printed photos on it to make a collage.

Creative Commons License photo credit: zenera

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Alexis Rodrigo

  • Brian says:

    Another great idea is to paint and hang boxes as shelves! Be careful how much weight you put on these, I use them to store my hats and other lightweight items, but a strong, thick box can surprise you as to how much it can hold! Also use strong screws and not skimpy nails.

  • Matt says:

    Good Point Brian…especially if your hanging them in drywall. You can actually get these plastic anchor screw thingies that are pretty cool. I think they have weight standards on them that can go up to like 50 pounds a screw but I suppose 50 pounds is alot for a box:).

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