Moving is finally over, all your things are out of the moving boxes and everything is in its place. There’s just one more step to complete before you can declare it an utter success: You need to deal with the dozens of cardboard boxes cluttering your home after unpacking.

If you’re looking for the easy way out, you can simply recycle them, but there are other interesting things you can do with your boxes, maybe even turn it into a fun experience for the whole family. Cardboard boxes that are used for moving are usually sturdy and you can put them to good use before recycling.

1. Build a playhouse (or a castle)

Large cardboard boxes are just what you need to build a fun playhouse – or a majestic castle – for your little ones. It’s quite easy, actually: all you need to do is to cut out a door and a couple of windows on one side of a large box, then put it upright on the floor and use some tape to ensure it stays put.

Use pieces of cardboard to create the roof of the playhouse or the merlons and the crenels of the castle. Then it comes the really great part: get out the crayons, the glitter, the paint, the markers and get decorating with your child. It’s a lot less expensive than buying similar toys, more creative and will engage your children a lot more. Basically, hours and hours of fun with the “cost” of a couple of moving boxes. Alternatively, you can also set up a play kitchen.

2. Lap tray for kids

Turn a box upside down and cut holes for legs on the sides – akin to a laptop tray. Glue another sheet of cardboard on top of the “tray” to make it more durable and add contact paper on all sides. The lap tray is excellent for when your kids are on the sofa or in bed, reading, coloring, or snacking. It reduces messes and makes things more comfortable for them.

3. Desk organizers

This one is a very simple yet very useful trick, great for parents and children alike. Desks can be very messy, with papers, pens, markers, books, and so on. Here’s how to organize all that mess: take several of the small size moving boxes you have left, detach the top panel of each one then use duct tape to stack several boxes one on top of the other. With the cutout on the same side, obtaining something akin to a small shelf. You can use paint or decorative paper to make them look nicer if you want. Place it on your desk and use it to add some organization to your work area.

4. Make a comfy bed for your four-legged friend

Pet beds tend to be quite expensive, so why not make one yourself? Moving boxes come in all sizes – it shouldn’t be complicated to find one that’s just the right size for your pet. There are two ways of making a pet bed out of a moving box. The simplest one is to use a narrow box, cut out one of the sides, pad it with a pillow or a blanket, essentially creating a basic, open bed.

However, pets (particularly cats) need privacy sometimes, so you should consider using a larger box for this project, one where you can keep the sides and the top of the box in place, cutting only an access door. This way, you’ll have a small “bedroom” for your pet, instead of a simple bed. Whichever solution you decide on, it’s a good idea to select a sturdy box, made of heavy cardboard, and to cover the box with contact paper, inside and out. Not only will the bed look better, but it will also be more durable.

5. Organize your storage unit

The multitude of boxes in your home can be used to better organize your storage unit. Take a couple of hours to go through all the stuff in your unit, reorganizing the items and putting them in boxes. Write the contents on each box, then seal them shut with duct tape. Make sure you don’t put the boxes directly on the floor of the unit – use some tart or wooden pallets.

6. Cute box car

Another fun project for kids is a cardboard box car. Find a rectangular box large enough for your kids to fit inside, and seal it with tape on all the joints. Cut out half of the cardboard panel on one of the long sides of the box, then cut “doors” on each of the narrow sides. Fold and cut the remaining half panel on top to make it into a “windshield”. Once the cutting is done, involve your kids in the rest of the process – you can use paper plates for wheels and draw headlights and taillights on the car. Painting the car is also a must, and don’t forget to come up with your own car logo for your very unique car.

7. Revamp your closets

Use the boxes to better organize the items in your closets and your pantry. Yes, the organizing closet boxes you find in stores look a lot better – but is it really worth it to pay the money, while discarding the perfectly good boxes you have at your disposal? As we already suggested, you can use contact paper, or even fabric, to cover the cardboard and make it look more aesthetically pleasing. Functionally, there’s very little difference between the boxes that you already have and the expensive ones you can get from various stores.

8. Scratching post for cats

Remaining in the pets’ zone, another cool and useful thing to make out of old moving boxes is a scratching post for cats. You need to dismantle the boxes and cut the cardboard in order to obtain multiple sheets of the same size – 1’x1’ squares work well. You also need a piece of wood that will act as the base of the post (which should be at least double the size of the cardboard sheets).

Overlap the cardboard squares, one on top of the other, until you reach a height of eight to ten inches, securing them tightly with glue or with string through their middle. Then, stick the cardboard tower you obtained to the wood base with double tape or glue, and voila – the scratching post. Another much simpler, but a lot less cool way of doing that is to simply glue strips of cardboard together for a horizontal scratching post – a scratching carpet, so to say.

9. Turn them into storage totes

For the storage totes project, besides several medium size boxes, you also need spray paint and some sort of fabric, leather, or ribbon. Reinforce all the joints of the boxes with duct tape on the inside. Then, use spray paint on the exterior to make them look nice. Use the strips of leather or fabric as handles, attaching them to the boxes with glue or with staples. These storage totes are excellent for toys, magazines, laundry baskets and so on.

10. Donate or sell them

Not everyone is the DIY type – or maybe you just don’t have the energy after moving. That’s okay. However, if you feel that it’s wasteful to recycle perfectly good moving boxes, you could always sell them online or donate them. Plenty of other people are moving and will appreciate getting some free or discounted moving boxes.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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