Cardboard boxes are a staple in the retail industry, and they’re probably not going away anytime soon. If you recently ordered products online (like vitamins, cosmetics or pet food from Vitacost!), you likely have a few of these boxes lying around your home. But before you toss them into the recycling bin or trash can, consider upcycling them instead!
Cardboard boxes can be cut, wrapped, painted and configured in countless ways. That makes them a perfect choice for a variety of exciting DIY projects. Here are 18 simple ideas to get you started!
1. Beverage coasters. It’s easy to transform cardboard boxes into coasters. All you need are a pair of scissors, a roll of decorative duct tape and a little imagination!
2. Wall art. Canvases can be pricey, but cardboard boxes are free (with your retail purchase, of course). Simply cut them into large rectangles, add a coat of primer and cover them with white paint. Now you’re ready to channel your inner Picasso!3.
3. Paint palettes. Or, if you already have some blank canvases on hand, cut cardboard boxes into palettes for paint.
4. Picture mats. Sure, you can purchase picture matting from your local craft store, but it’s cheaper (and maybe even easier) to cut up cardboard boxes instead. Leave the mats au naturel, paint them white or cover them with the fabric of your choice for pictures that really pop!
5. Picture frames. And speaking of pictures, cardboard boxes also make lovely, lightweight picture frames. Simply cut out a frame in the shape of your choosing (don’t forget its backing!) and decorate it with markers, paint, sequins, seashells… The possibilities are endless!
6. Greeting cards. With a pair of scissors, a set of markers and any embellishments you desire, you can easily transform an ordinary cardboard box into an ornate greeting card for any occasion.
7. Postcards. Cardboard boxes also make wonderful postcards! Just cut a section of the box into a rectangle, decorate it with markers, pen a personal message and send it to a friend or family member—no envelope required!
8. Gift tags. There’s no need to buy gift tags when you can make them yourself by cutting a cardboard box into several small shapes and decorating them with markers, paint, stickers, glitter and other accompaniments you can think of.
9. Labels. Want to take home organization to the next level? Cut up cardboard boxes to create labels for various containers around your abode!
10. Planter box. Add a coat of paint and some embellishments to a shallow cardboard box, line it with a plastic garbage bag (be sure to poke some holes for drainage!) and welcome your beloved bergenia to its new home!
11. Weed killer. Cardboard boxes can also help contain weeds! Simply place flattened cardboard on weed-prone areas, water it so it stays put and add mulch or soil on top for camouflage.
12. Stencils. Use a sharp blade or X-Acto knife to cut out letters and shapes from a cardboard box. Voilà—instant stencils!
13. Jewelry tray. Trim a cardboard box into the shape of a tray and cover it with stickers, scrapbook paper and fabric scraps. Then add a protective coat of decoupage sealant. Use it to hold and display your favorite jewelry.
14. Train. You’re going to want several cardboard boxes for this one! Glue two paper plates to each side of every box to create wheels. Then line the boxes up and encourage your pint-sized conductor to add additional decorations.
15. Fort. We’d be remiss not to recommend a good, old fashioned box fort. The bigger the box, the better!
Don’t have any cardboard boxes on hand? Here are a few ideas for upcycling other cardboard materials!
1. Napkin rings. Cut a cardboard tube from a roll of aluminum foil or plastic wrap into several small rings and use tape or glue to cover them with decorative fabric. A quarter yard of fabric should yield eight eye-catching napkin rings!
2. Bird feeder. This DIY project is for the birds! Coat a cardboard tube from a roll of toilet paper with peanut butter and then cover it with bird seed. Loop a ribbon or some twine through it and hang it from your favorite tree.
3. Magazine file. Chances are, you have a cereal box in your cabinet. Cut it to the proper size and cover it with paint, scrapbook paper or fabric to transform it into a chic magazine file.