Frugal Parenting (featured column)
by Rachel Keller
If you’ve read my previous columns Tips for Cutting Costs at Breakfast and 13 Creative Uses for Cereal Bag Liners, you know how to save money with breakfast and how to reuse those plastic cereal liners. But did you know how valuable that cereal box is? Before you toss another cereal box, snack cracker box, or an empty tissue box in the trash, read the following suggestions!
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* Boxes can make stylish and colorful bookmarks. When I was in second grade, my teacher gave us pretty bookmarks made from empty Kleenex boxes. I treasured that simple gift with the pretty pink design. Later, when I became a classroom teacher myself, I saved empty tissue boxes and made my students bookmarks.
* Use empty tissue boxes to store extra plastic bags. Whenever you need a plastic bag, just pull one out of the box. (See 22 Creative Ways to Use Plastic Grocery Bags for more ideas on how to reuse plastic grocery store bags.)
* Save the box and cover with contact paper, or try painting the box. After decorating the box, use it for storing school papers or other items.
* By cutting off the top and part of the side of the box, you can use it as a magazine holder.
* Some boxes can make great treasure chests for young children. Once, when I was getting ready to toss out a small empty pie box, my one son asked me if he could have it to store his treasures.
* Empty boxes are great for arts and crafts collages.
* Use empty gelatin boxes, toothpaste, or makeup boxes to make animals, trains, or other toys. For some great craft ideas see the book Just a Box? by Goldie Taub Chernoff (Scholastic Book Services,1971).
* Small boxes (such as pudding or gelatin boxes) can make great puppets. Decorate your box. Punch a hole in the bottom box and insert a stick or pencil in the hole. You can also make a hand puppet by cutting through the middle of a small individual-size cereal box. (Cut only 3 sides.) Fold the box on the uncut side. Move fingers and thumb to make your puppet "talk."
* Open an empty cereal box and let your young child have fun coloring on the inside.
* Use these boxes to protect items when mailing.
* Use empty boxes for kindling to start fires.
* You can also make a book report on a cereal box. We did this for a home school book report (although we used a large empty dry milk box for it). You will want to cover the box with construction paper or something else. Draw a picture from the story on the front of the box. You can either put your summary on the front or on the back. On the side where the ingredients are typically listed, you can list the characters, setting, plot, etc. Be creative. This is more fun than an ordinary book report!
* Save and decorate empty salt boxes for your children to use as building blocks. (Be careful about the sharp spout. Either remove or cover it.)
* Large boxes are great for mailing packages, storing items, making costumes, or even for playing. My children made play houses from a washing machine and a dishwasher box. We eventually recycled the dilapidated boxes.
* Rather than throwing boxes in the trash, recycle whatever boxes you cannot use. Open the box flat and put in a recycling bin. You may see your box later as an egg carton, construction paper, or even another box!
Do you have other ways to reuse boxes? If so, we'd love to hear from you!
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Copyright © 2005 by Rachel Keller. All rights reserved.