Anyone who knows me well would attest that I am not overly fond of buying things, especially new things. We visit the thrift stores to get new clothes and household items, and we try to ignore the desire to buy something easy and new. I’m just not much of a consumer, which is why I gave my two-year-old a box for Christmas. My two-year-old is now eight, and I must say that the box was one of the best gifts I’ve given her so far. While many other toys have been passed on or gone to thrift stores themselves, the box was used, loved, and finally recycled.
While the number one toy in the world is a stick, the box ranks close behind. What can you create from a box? Here are some ideas:
1. A Space Ship, Castle, Boat, or Car
The year I gave my daughter a box for Christmas, she was obsessed with boats. We’d read Byron Barton’s Boats at least a zillion and one times. We didn’t go out to eat much, but when we did, we went to a restaurant next to the marina, because we knew that she’d be focused on looking out of the window. For Christmas, I went to the local appliance store and got a giant box. I cut it, added a door and two portholes, and painted it like the tugboat in her favorite book. She loved it. I loved it too, although I didn’t love the space it took up in the living room. She played with this boat for almost a year before her interest in boats waned. If your child loves space ships, castles, boats, cars, or forts, boxes are the best toy. Give him some paint as well, and you can spend an afternoon designing the structure after Christmas!
I work in a place that has a gift shop, and the gift shop sells mugs. The mugs are shipped in individual boxes, but often customers are not interested in the boxes. This means that there are dozens of little boxes that are all the same, and they’re waiting for someone to create with them. Even if you don’t feel like creating much, bring a whole lot of these boxes home and you’ll have a whole lot of blocks for forts – perfect for a rec room. Ask around at your local shops to see if they end up with a number of boxes, and they will likely be happy to give them to you.
3. A Costume
Medium-sized boxes are the perfect foundation for a costume! My sister once has a Christmas present costume, but boxes are also appropriate for children who enjoy dressing up as robots. Create the costume yourself, or work with your child to build it after Christmas.
If your child loves to play with tiny toys, why not build them a house? Shoe box houses are ideal for Pet Shop or Playmobil toys. Or give your child a “do-it-yourself” kit with glue, fabric scraps, and boxes, and have her go wild in the decorating department.
5. Jumps for Toy Cars
Combine small boxes, shoeboxes, and pieces of wood, and you have a great set up to create jumps and mazes for toy cars. Just like the play house kit, add some paint and building materials, and you’ll have an excellent do-it-yourself car jump kit.
6. Treasure Box
As a baby, my daughter was obsessed with putting things into and out of containers. Babies are just learning about the idea of object permanence, which means that things that are not visible are still actually there. Find many small, easy-to-handle boxes and hide treasures inside, and you’ll have the perfect baby game!
7. Rattle or Rain Shaker
If your toddler loves to make noise, she’ll love some rice placed into and sealed inside a box. So much banging! So much noise! Just make sure that any rattle is filled with items that your child won’t choke on, just in case they get the box open.
Would you give your child a box for Christmas?