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22 Unexpected Uses for Moving Boxes

June 9th, 2017 - 11:24 AM

What to do with used moving boxes

After a move, you may find yourself swimming in a sea of cardboard. If you’ve moved a two-bedroom home, you can easily have over 50 used boxes laying around.  Or maybe you’ve ordered several things online and are looking for a way to reuse those boxes. You can go the environmentally-friendly route and recycle them, but you may want to get creative with some of them. With a few supplies, moving boxes can be repurposed into unique things that can entertain your kids, organize your home, and more!

Used moving boxes are great for keeping kids active indoors this summer.

22 ways to reuse cardboard boxes​

Take a look through these repurposed box projects and find the one that’s right for your boxes. You can keep kids amused all summer long no matter the weather with both indoor and outdoor activities, or use the boxes around the house in inventive ways.

Indoor activities for kids​

Whether it’s too hot outside or it’s a rainy day, these activities are perfect for keeping kids entertained inside.

1. Create a shoot-out game. Get hours of fun by cutting windows into a medium size box, using tape or glue to make a short ledge, and placing toys in the windows. Kids can use a foam bullet blaster to shoot the toys out of the windows. This game keeps small toys contained rather than sending them flying around the room — a win, win! Check out the example from Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls for inspiration.

2. Build an arcade. Empty boxes have endless possibilities! Show your kids the video of Cain’s Arcade (a cardboard game room built by a 9-year-old), and let them create their own games.

3. Make a playhouse. This can be as extravagant or simple as you want. With a little imagination and some simple adjustments, a large box can be any sort of playhouse. The plans for this cardboard playhouse from Built by Kids folds away for easy storage.

4. Create a track for mini cars. Draw a road on an unfolded box and presto! You have a place to drive toy cars. You can also draw lanes on a box and prop it up against a piece of furniture for a fun race track. Send multiple cars flying down the track at the same time to race!

5. Build a garage for toys. A modified box could be a garage for toy cars or helicopters, or even a barn for toy horses. The step-by-step tutorial from Missy Inspired gives ideas for building a double-decker garage using a box, tape, scissors, markers and an empty paper towel roll.

6. Construct a train table. Attach a flat piece of cardboard to assembled boxes to create a train table. The boxes create the legs and the flat piece is the table top. Once it’s built, you can draw scenery on the top — giving kids a place to build their train tracks around. Paint areas of green grass, a pond, or roads. If you don’t have track pieces, you can paint the tracks onto the table top as well. Now you have a place to drive your toy trains.  

7. Make a lap desk. This would be perfect for road trips or for the little artist or writer. Use a piece of cardboard for the top of the desk, include a slot for an electronic device and even attach tubes to hold pencils or other supplies. This video tutorial shows how to make it. While they use more industrial-looking tools and supplies, you can easily create this using simple household items. 

8. Design a cave of stars. For this fun project, take a large box (big enough for your kids to crawl into) and make lots of small holes. Take string lights and press one light through each hole. This will create “stars” inside the box. Place a pillow inside for the perfect reading fort!

9. Turn stairs into a slide. Open up several boxes and tape enough of them together to completely cover the stairs (leave a few inches clear on the side so kids can walk back up the stairs). Place some pillows or a mattress at the bottom of the stairs so they can safely slide. It’s way more fun than walking down the stairs.

10. Put together an easel. Make a cardboard triangle (use the example from You Clever Monkey), and your artist can have a space to create. Use clothespins to attach paper to the easel and let the painting begin! The best part is when the easel gets too messy, simply recycle it and make another one.

11. Create play costumes. Give a kid a box, some paint and paper and see what they create! We have step-by-step instructions to turn used moving boxes into costumes for dice, a Rubik’s Cube, an aquarium, a robot, and a Lego®.

12. Design yarn art. Cut shapes out of cardboard and wrap them in colored yarn. Make trendy art with the leftover boxes from your move. Create thick capital letters or draw a more intricate script word. DIY Candy will show you how to create a piece of unique art.

Outdoor activities for kids

Sending the kids outside to play may elicit a “What are we going to do?” response. Use cardboard boxes to give outside play a fun direction.

13. Make a sidewalk for chalk. If you don’t want to get the actual sidewalk or driveway dirty, or if there isn’t a sidewalk, use opened moving boxes for chalk drawing. Bonus: cardboard is easier on hands and knees than the concrete, and you can move the boxes to stay in the shade.

14. Protect surfaces for messy crafts. Send your kids outside for craft time, but keep the grass or driveway clean by placing sheets of cardboard underneath. When the craft is finished, place the cardboard sheets in the recycling bin.

15. Make an outdoor solar oven. For a fun science experiment, create a reflector oven using foil and a box. The instructions from Home Science Tools show you how to make an oven that will really cook food (and explains what happens and how it works). It will cook anything from baked potatoes to pizza outside in the sunshine.

16. Create a giant canvas. Open several boxes and tape them together. Take this giant sheet outside in the grass and give the kids paints to use on this giant canvas. They can paint a mural or create several masterpieces all around the cardboard.

17. Go sledding on grass. You don’t have to wait for snow to go sledding! Find a grassy hill and use a sheet of cardboard as a sled.

Household uses for used boxes

Used boxes aren’t just for kids! These unconventional uses are very handy around the house.

18. Determine car leaks. If you suspect a leak, place a large piece of cardboard underneath the car and wait a few hours. When you pull the cardboard out, inspect it to see how much fluid is leaking, what color the fluid is, and the location of the leak.

19. Package Christmas gifts. Keep several boxes of each size and use them at Christmastime to wrap unusually shaped gifts. Instead of wrestling the wrapping paper around a strangely shaped toy, place it in a box and simply wrap the box.

20. Make decorative frames. Follow the tutorial from Angela’s DIYs to make beautiful frames out of leftover cardboard and decorative paper. Not only would these be perfect for wall art, they would make great gifts, too!

21. Create decorative baskets. Easily cover a box with fabric or twine to make a beautiful basket at a fraction of the cost. Check out these jute-covered baskets from Elizabeth Joan Designs — they look expensive but were made very affordably.

22. Make an emergency supply kit. Set aside a used moving box to use as an emergency kit for your home or car. Ready.gov has a list of basic supplies to put inside including a flashlight, chargers, food and more.

Do you have any other ideas for used moving boxes?

Let us know if you have any other ways to reuse boxes in the comments below. We always love hearing new ideas and adding to our list!