Frugal Friday: Get a Cardboard Box

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we don’t have to spend a lot of money to entertain children. I remember a mentor mom once telling me about “creative boredom.” If the kids don’t have a lot of bells and whistles, they’ll find things to do. How true it is!

One frugal activity that my children love is to transform cardboard boxes into imaginary structures. One year after we got a new refrigerator, my husband and his mother really went to town helping our son make it into a very fun plaything. A few cuts into the cardboard, a few swashes of poster paint, a long closet rod, and an old sheet (that was my contribution) turned a simple packing box into a sailing ship that provided hours of entertainment. It was practically free – no fancy toy could ever compare to that price.

One year friends of ours collected such boxes in anticipation of a knights-in-shining-armor birthday party. The very clever father created a castle, complete with working drawbridge, in their basement. Amazing! The kids had way more fun than any bounce house crowd I ever saw.

This simple activity takes something that is really trash and transforms it into something fun. Eventually it can be recycled, but in the meantime, we can milk all the entertainment out of it as possible. Waste not, want not!

If you’re not buying any big appliances anytime soon, talk to friends and family who are and see if you can have their boxes. Often the appliance store carts the boxes away; talk to their delivery department and see if you can have some of their unwanted cartons. Then, the activity is totally free.

Frugal entertainment – it’s the best kind of fun!

What wonderful creations have you and your family made out of cardboard boxes? Share it in the comments.

Got a great money saving tip? Share it with us!

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Looking forward to your great ideas!

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  1. Great idea! My girls used them to make play houses….week of free fun!

  2. Cardboard boxes are so much fun! I find it hard to resist a nice empty box and so does sunnyboy 🙂 We’ve made a building blocks, a postbox, a fridge, a washing machine and many other things from cardboard boxes.

  3. My toddler just loves cardboard boxes and laundry baskets, any container that he can fit into. I sometimes wonder if he thinks he is driving some car!

  4. My kids loved this! They are pre-teens now and its not as fun anymore, but they would play with boxes for hours and hours. One of our favorites is when we homeschooled, they practiced making hieroglyphics and cave paintings on the inside their boxes.

  5. We love cardboard boxes. Being in the military we have the advantage of getting hundreds of them every few years. One of the biggest challenges of moving is convincing the kids to let us get rid of the boxes after we unpack. They love to play in them, usually they make trains and forts.

  6. It was always fun at Christmas to see if the boys were going to play with their toys or the boxes. Fun! Thanks for hosting!

  7. My toddler loves boxes too. She got a bike for her second birthday and so far has a much fun with the box as with the bike. You gotta love their creativity at this age.

  8. Great post! One of my favorite books as a kid was “Christina Katerina and the Box” – it’s about the evolution of a big box they find and all the different things they pretend it can be as it is used and abused over time.

  9. I remember using huge cardboard boxes as a kid! 🙂 Only we didn’t get so sophisticated as to paint them..we used crayons…lol!

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  10. OH the days of playing with boxes. We’ve always ascribed to your philosophy also. Once our kids reached a certain age, if they came in and told me they were bored, they had to clean. That usually stopped that! And years later, it came to help my middle son. He was on the cleaning crew at his charter school and one of the ‘detention’ punishments for middle and upper grades was to be on the cleaning crew. You didn’t get to detention, do your homework and then do whatever when you got home. You worked and still had to do your homework. Works very well. And if they run out of things for detention students to do, they came to my son. They ended up cleaning the baseboards with toothbrushes, straightening and dusting bookshelves in the classrooms, putting them back EXACTLY as they were to be, cleaning whiteboards…

  11. We planned a Bob the Builder “worker” party for our son’s fourth birthday. We considered making a house out of cardboard boxes for the kids to hammer and paint, but ended up with a super fun and super simple plan. We called four Starbucks stores and they were willing to save their boxes (we arranged to pick them up according to each store’s unpacking schedule). We did not even use tape, just folded the flaps in. My husband gave the kids challenges as a group and in teams to build a wall and a building. They loved it, especially knocking them down! This was a super fun, free activity!

  12. Thank you for doing Frugal Fridays. I’m enjoying reading everyone’s ideas.

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