17 Creative Ways to Reuse Cardboard Boxes

While technology is constantly giving us new ways of doing things, there are some things that stubbornly stay the same. Take the good old cardboard box, for example: 90 percent of all products shipped in the United States are still sent using some type of cardboard packaging. So what do we do with all of it once items have been safely removed from their boxes? Unfortunately, we usually break down the boxes and toss them in recycling—but if we would just give it a little thought, the possibilities are almost endless. Cardboard can be bent, cut, painted, wrapped, and configured in almost any way you can imagine. And, as you will see, upcycled cardboard doesn't have to remain in the realm of kids' play forts or drab storage containers. Here are 11 creative ideas for turning excess cardboard into functional household items you will want to show off.

  1. Re-Gifting

    DIY Postcards

    A handwritten thank-you card will never go unappreciated. So what could be better than using the original gift box to craft your message? Cardboard "postcards" can be sent as is; no envelope needed.


  2. Dinner Circles

    DIY Napkin Ring

    Whip up a set of these delightful napkin rings with a cardboard tube from a roll of plastic wrap or foil. About one-quarter yard of your favorite fabric will be more than enough for eight rings; use fabric glue or double-sided tape to secure the cloth to the inside of each cardboard coil.


  3. Contain Your Excitement

    DIY Planter Box

    Here's a natural idea: Dress up a simple cardboard box with a few embellishments, then line it with a plastic bag poked with a few drainage holes. You are now ready to move a plant into a pretty new home.


  4. Child's Play

    DIY Kids Toy

    Help little ones hone their fine motor skills with this clever shape-sorter toy. Fluted dowel pins make it easy to guide the colorful shapes into place.

    Related: 5 Classic Wood Games You Can Make Yourself


  5. Stylish Storage

    DIY Storage Tote

    Making this trio of storage totes is simpler than you might think. Gold screw bolts and spray adhesive hold the fabric covers in place, and an old belt finds new purpose as a carrying strap. Visit Brit + Co. for the tutorial.

    Related: 5 Things to Do with… Cardboard Boxes


  6. Cat Scratch Fever

    DIY Cat Scratch Post

    Save your furniture—and impress your favorite feline—with this scratching pad made from corrugated cardboard boxes. The painted outer rim is optional.


  7. A-Maze-ing

    DIY Maze

    If you just moved or happened to get a delivery of large appliances, you can make a cardboard maze that will entertain the kids for hours. Cut a doorway or two into each box and join it to the others using sturdy plastic clips.


  8. Coasting Along

    DIY Cardboard Coaster

    Cardboard, decorative duct tape, and a good pair of scissors are all you need to make these drink coasters on the fly. Bonus use: Protect the floor—these also make great furniture sliders!


  9. Tag, You're It

    DIY Gift Tag

    Whether you use them as gift tags or as a way of labeling different boxes, bags, or containers around the house, cardboard is an easy and free way to mark your stuff.

    sewingbarefoot.blog spot.com

  10. In the Weeds

    DIY Weed Treatment

    Cardboard is a sturdy yet compostable material, which makes it a natural solution for a weed problem. Just place flat pieces of cardboard on your weed-prone area, watering thoroughly to help them stay put. When you're done, add soil or mulch on top to camouflage the cardboard.


  11. Clever Crafting

    DIY Paint Palette

    Sometimes it's nice not to overthink it. Any craft project will be easier with this cardboard paint palette, complete with a handy thumb hole to keep things in balance.


  12. Magazine Files

    Magazine File

    There's almost never a lack of cereal boxes going into the recycling bin. Make a stylish magazine file by cutting it to the proper size and covering it with decorative paper or fabric. Instant organization.


  13. Party Decor

    Party Decor

    No need to go to the party store for decor. Make a flower garland like this before your next event with cardboard paper towel rolls. Just paint, bend, glue and string together. So pretty.

    momstartingfromscratch.blog spot.com

  14. Wall Art

    DIY Wall Art

    Blank canvases are expensive. But shoe box tops are not. Give them a coat of primer and white paint and then treat them just as you would a canvas. Decorate at will!

    spunkyjunky.blog spot.com

  15. Bird Feeder

    DIY Bird Feeder

    This is the recycler's take on the traditional pine cone bird feeder. Use a cardboard toilet paper roll as your base. Cover it with peanut butter and roll it in bird seed. Then slip a string or ribbon through it and hang from a tree close to your window. Let the show begin!


  16. Gift Bags

    DIY Gift Bags

    These suitcase styled gift bags were made by cutting a cardboard cereal box into shape and painting it brown. A few decorative accoutrements later, and you have a memorable goodie bag to send home with your guests.


  17. Fabric Picture Mats

    DIY Picture Matting

    Why use a plain-Jane picture mat from the craft store, when you can customize one with fabric? Thin cardboard, like that from a cereal box or notepad backing is perfect for this. Just cut it to the appropriate size and use spray adhesive and Mod Podge to add your fabric. It will frame your photos beautifully.

    amyjdelightful.blog spot.com

  18. For More...

  19. Don't Miss!


    Clever project ideas and step-by-step tutorials delivered right to your inbox each and every Saturday morning—sign up today for the Weekend DIY Club newsletter!