Thinking Outside of the (Cardboard) Box

Boxes are for far more than just packing and organizing

Special occasion or not, I love giving my three nieces gifts, wrapped in a box with decorative paper and a big bow. Watching them unwrap presents, it’s never ceased to make me laugh at the way children sometimes like playing with the packaging more than the gift itself.  But as I’ve watched them outgrow their curious toddler tendencies – now 4, 6, and 8 years old – their interest in playing with the boxes has dwindled, making me nostalgic for the days when I, too, used boxes to build my own Barbie dream houses. It’s inevitable that growing up leads to losing our youthfully active imaginations.  When we’re faced with the real world and responsibilities, it becomes difficult to pretend. Which is why I cherish and encourage them to play in whatever make-believe world they can imagine as often as possible, and to build it with boxes.

With imagination, a box can become anything.  Like the book, “Not a Box“ by Antoinette Portis, such a simple thing like a cardboard cube can make playtime a lot more exciting.

Some of our District Consultants shared the ways they or their kids utilize boxes:

Samantha Weld, Boston: ”When I get shipments, my kids get in the boxes with the packing peanuts and pretend they’re taking a bath!”

Shannon Vetter, Washington DC: ”My son made a road for his cars.  We also made a cityscape for Lego creations. Their latest invention was box races. They would have to race one another, wearing a box, collecting various items from the ground. It was hilarious … they could hardly bend over to pick things up!”

Betsy Larson, San Diego: My daughter makes robots from old boxes.

Amy Rucker, Raleigh: We had an entire box birthday party one year. We got huge refrigerator and appliance boxes from the store and let the kids create a fort and maze out of them in our basement for a rainy party. We cut windows and doors, and gave them markers to decorate the outside and inside. They LOVED it!

Here are 32 more box ideas from Tip Junkie!

The next time you receive a delivery, before you demolish and recycle the packaging (or before your children claim it), consider taking your race car for a winning lap around the track or admire shooting stars from the window in your rocket while you soar through space.  Whatever you do, be sure to think outside of the box and keep your imagination alive, no matter what your age.