11 Unusual Uses for an Old Cardboard Box

Somehow, you can't bring yourself to recycle them, or worse yet, to throw them away. They'll come in so handy some day if you decide to move to the other side of the state or put together a collection of vintage vinyl records. There's something about cardboard boxes, from tiny jewelry cases to super-sized appliance containers, that awakens the inner hoarder in almost everyone. Don't just hang on to your old cartons though … use them! Here are 11 fun and practical ways to repurpose a cardboard box.

Photo: M Car/flickr crop1. Surprise Package. This is an oldie but goodie. If you and your loved ones adore surprises, package a present inside a cardboard box in order to conceal its size and shape. Opening a shoebox to find a well-wrapped pair of diamond earrings adds to the pleasure of receiving such a glamorous gift. CAUTION: Presenting a diet guide inside an empty 5-pound chocolate box may not be as well received.

Photo: AmberDeel/flickr2. Wall Shelf. Lacquer smallish boxes for lightweight, inexpensive, and chic shelving to hang on your wall. Cardboard box shelves make great hand towel holders for your guest powder room or stashes for gloves and scarves in the foyer.

Photo: Stampendous/flickr 3. Storage Box. Hide your prized possessions in plain sight using old cardboard boxes made new. For a polished effect, cover them with colorfully patterned scrapbook paper, fabric remnants (trendy burlap, anyone?), rustic hemp twine, or decorative paint.

Photo: CarbonNYC/flickr4. Baby Playground. To you it's a plain old cardboard box. But to Baby it's the best toy ever. Your little darling can sit in a sturdy carton and play peek-a-boo, hide from Mom and Dad, or simply watch the big wide world go by.

Photo: just jennifer/flickr5. Big Kid Vehicle. Older children will enjoy using a cardboard box as their own personal transportation systems. Depending on the season, it can be a makeshift wagon, pulled across the grass by a patient parent, or a temporary toboggan zooming down a snowy slope. Whee!

Photo: katerha/flickr6. DIY Dollhouse. For quieter play times, DIYers of all ages can turn a cardboard box or two into a dollhouse …  or even a whole tiny town. Who needs plastic? Just add felt pens or crayons and a little imagination.

Photo: 1lenore/flickr7. Mask. Create a mask out of a mini cardboard box, scissors, and epoxy, and transform yourself into a robot- or crocodile-head to go out trick-or-treating or dress up for a Halloween party. Or just because.

Photo: bitmask/flickr8. Armor. No more Mr. Nice Guy. If anybody makes fun of your crocodile mask, honor demands that you challenge him or her to a duel with paper-towel tubes. The going might get rough, so you'll need cardboard box armor to protect yourself.

Photo: jespajoy/flickr9. Couch Protector. Trying to train a pet not to jump on your couch? Good luck (heh heh). Dollars to dog biscuits, Simba or Lady will be up there again as soon as your back is turned … unless you use a giant IKEA box, flattened out as a sofa shield.

Photo: oskay/flickr10. Pet Furniture. Once the couch is out of bounds, your precious pet will need a comfy spot to rest its weary bod after a hard day of play. Forget the floor -- that's much too cold on a drizzly day in Washington State. Make like a Seattle carpenter and craft a plushy bed or stylish armchair out of a cardboard box.

Photo: Mark Dumont/flickr11. Boat. Cardboard boat regattas have been a proud American tradition for the past 50 years. Build yourself a boat from a cardboard box held together with duct tape and glue and then race your fellow contestants to be the first to pilot your crazy contraption across a body of water. Beware that your boat doesn't shred or sink on the way!

And for a completely different perspective on what to do with your old cardboard, check this out.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated July 24, 2018.

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