Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An inexpensive Christmas gift idea

If you have lots of little kids in the house, especially boys, you may like this gift idea. It is a book. A book on how to build practically anything from cardboard boxes:

Don't let the title deceive you, there is much more than castles and cars in this book. I can't even begin to list all the fun projects that it covers, but you can look inside of it on Amazon and check out the contents page. Some stuff is easy enough for a 2-year old to make, and some projects require the help of an older sibling or parent. Our boys have LOVED having this book from the library, and yes, they are getting a copy of it for Christmas.

In addition to buying the book for $11.07, there are a few other things that are handy to have on hand as your children will want to start making something from it immediately:

- cardboard boxes in all sizes - appliance stores usually give these out for free, but call around and ask, because not all do. We keep an assortment of sizes in stock year-round.

- box cutter - about $2 at the hardware store. Definitely for use BY ADULTS ONLY!!!

- big bottles of tempera paint - teaching stores usually carry these for $2/bottle. Tempera paint washes out of most fabrics, and it can be diluted with water if you are painting a large project and want to "stretch" your paint.

- mailing tape - the paper type used to seal packages is best, but the plastic will work, too, it's just a little harder to paint.

- cardboard tubes, milk jugs, pie tins, extra pieces of PVC pipe, blankets, and anything else that can be turned into something new.

For a total cost of less than $30, you can give a gift that will bring hours upon hours of constructive, cooperative fun. Sure, I could buy a video game for my son to play by himself and rot his brain, but why would I when instead he could be playing outside with his siblings and building something tangible. The real sacrifice with this gift is not that I throw down a bunch of money that my husband worked long and hard to earn, but that I will have to dedicate some of my time to help them build whatever it is they pick, rather than keeping up with the never-ending housework or taking a break.

I already shared a picture of the castle I built with the kids a few weeks ago, which they are still playing in (even though it's in a state of disrepair by now). Today, we made a behemoth of a "fireplace" out of three medium-sized appliance boxes. This project was not in the book, but I thought it was fitting anyway because it was just like all the stuff in there.

We have since added yellow and red tissue paper "flames", and I am thinking about a way to make them "light up". We also need to hang stockings this year, which is why the kids wanted a fireplace to begin with.

Enjoy your child(ren) today, they grow up too fast!


  1. Hi,
    I'm a long time lurker on your blog, but first time comment leaver! When I was a child my Dad made me a wendy house out of a cardboard box. My mum put curtains in the 'windows' made out of old clothes, and they had a tough time trying to stop me playing in it! I'm 28 now, and to this day, the homemade cardboard box play house goes down in our family as the best gift ever! I'm sure your boys will still remember their castle when they're my age!
    God bless.

  2. What a great idea!!! If mine were younger I'd order this book for sure.

  3. That is EXCELLENT!! And it looks so real!

  4. The fireplace is "cool!" OOPS, I mean warm. Excellent job! Pls post another pic when you add the "flames." When our kids were young (eons ago... :( I made a firehouse cover for a card table from a Simplicity or McCalls pattern.

  5. Neat idea! But, color me shocked at the tree in your house. I would have thought you all didn't do that. (Jeremiah 10)

  6. I wanted to drop a link to

    You can post old books you have and don't need, and get credits for them to 'buy' new ones.

    It also works with DVD's, and you can switch the credits between them. (A DVD is worth 2 book credits, I believe)

    I've gotten TONS of books to give my nieces and nephews for Christmas this way, several for myself, and tons of cooking and sewing books.

  7. how fun adn creative and awesome you can have a"fireplace" for Christmas eventhough you have no fireplace!:)

  8. That fireplace is so awesome. I would have loved that as a kid. I never thought of boxes but I used to make tents everywhere out of bed sheets- my poor mother! I'll have to get this for Sophia when she's old enough.


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