Considering that 90 percent of all items are shipped in standard brown cardboard boxes and most people dabble in at least a little hoarding (boxes, plastic bags, and yogurt containers seem to be the most addictive), that’s a lot of empty boxes to stash in your closets.
Don’t pretend that one day you will break down the boxes and lug them out to the recycling depot or that you’ll use them to ship Christmas presents to your out-of-town relatives. Admit it. You’ve never bought the aunts and uncles even one gift. And that depot? I’ll give you ten bucks if you can tell me where it is.
Here’s a better idea. Check out these 10 creative uses for brown cardboard boxes and watch your friends and family turn green with envy because you’ve just figured out how to keep your kids occupied for the next five years.
1. Cardboard House
Loosely-constructed forts built out of torn pieces of boxes and old sheets are for amateurs. Cardboard houses are not only great fun for kids to put together, but if they do a good enough job, you can always evict them from the family home and force them to live in their cardboard abode in the backyard. Tell ‘em that’s the life they can expect if they don’t work hard—which starts by cleaning their room!
2. Cardboard Loom
A loom is an apparatus for weaving fabrics with yarn, like scarves, afghans, and pot holders. Instead of throwing out the cardboard box in which your Amazon order came or amassing them on the off-chance that you will one day need 53 of these suckers, turn them into a loom and weave your own clothes! Better yet, manage your own personal sweat shop and put the kiddies to work during those long car trips.
3. Cardboard Halloween Mask
Why blow $1.52 on a store-bought mask for your kid’s Halloween costume when you could make one yourself? Corrugated cardboard is much sturdier than the typical homemade construction-paper masks. If you’re creatively-inclined, you can fashion a lion mask, a bird mask or, if you let the little ones participate, a Picasso portrait mask.
4. Cardboard Monster Jaws
No, not the 1975 Spielberg film (although that could be fun…as long as you don’t take it for a spin on the water). Monster jaws are also known as a vise, which is a tool with movable jaws to hold an object firmly in place. Use your discarded boxes to make cardboard monster jaws. Why? To keep your kids out of your hair for a few hours, of course.
5. Cardboard Robot
Who doesn’t love robots? Use your empty boxes to create a robot—and the best part is you don’t even have to break them down or cut them up! Glue or tape a bunch of standard Amazon-sized boxes together to build your very own Robby the Robot! How cool is that? Okay, so this one won’t move or talk or star in his own science fiction film. Well what did you expect? He’s made of cardboard.
6. Cardboard Oven
This is probably the best idea on the list: make a kitchen appliance that heats things up with fire out of flammable material. This one is definitely for all those Martha Stewart wannabees, because to really do it right you’ll need spray paint, hot glue guns, a battery-powered light, old CDs, and the ability to draw concentric circles.
7. Cardboard Skyscraper
If you’re too busy to entertain your restless children, have them build a skyscraper made out of varying sizes of empty cardboard boxes. Better yet, dare them to construct the entire New York skyline. You’ll have weeks to yourself.
8. Cardboard Drive-In
If your offspring is having a birthday party and has invited every kid in her class, don’t worry. This idea is genius. Simply line up 15 empty cardboard boxes in your backyard to make “cars” and create a drive-in movie. The brilliant part is that if the children get too out of hand, simply seal up the flaps, address the box, and ship them to Canada.
9. Cardboard Therapist’s Booth
Lucy from Peanuts had the right idea when she crafted her own psychotherapist’s booth. There are drive-thru restaurants (if you can call McDonald’s a “restaurant”), drive-thru Starbucks, and drive-thru banks. Why not drive-thru therapy? You can be your kid’s first patient.
10. Cardboard Box
Or you could just empty out a large box and dump your kid in it. Throw in a few crayons so you can call it “arts and crafts” when Social Services shows up at your door.
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