by Rebecca Rockefeller
The next time you find yourself with a token of affection in need of gift wrap, something sturdier than a thin piece of wrapping paper, check your recycling bin for a thin cardboard box – You can easily transform it into a customized envelope strong enough to guard and deliver your gift in upcycled style.
Here’s one version that lends itself to hands from small to large. While the gift envelopes in these photos reflect the sweet childish charm of the kids who made them, it’s just as easy to create an elegant adult version.
- Thin cardboard box (paperboard) from cereal, crackers, frozen pizza, or the like
- Sturdy scissors
- Hole punch or other implement to poke through the cardboard
- Yarn or string
- Small piece of tape and a chopstick, or a large-eyed yarn needle
- Beads or buttons with large holes
- Colored pencils, pens, or other media as desired for decoration
- Open your box so that you have a flattened piece of cardboard.
- Cut out a piece at least 2 inches wider than the item you’re wrapping, and just over twice as long as you’d like the finished envelope to be. If possible, include the end flap of the box in your strip – It’s already creased to fold and will make a lovely flap to close your envelope.
- Set your strip of cardboard down with the printed side facing up. Fold one narrow end up towards the other, leaving an inch or so extra on one end to become the flap of the envelope, so that the printed face of the cardboard is now inside the fold. Use the handles of your scissors to help you make a clean crease.
- Fold the extra bit down to become the flap (if you’ve included the end flap of the box in your piece, it will already be folded and ready to go). Cut each end of the flap at an angle so that the lower part of the flap is narrower than the top.
- Holding the folded piece closed, punch holes along each side, going through both sides of the fold with each punch. You’re making holes for stitching, so set them as close together as you’d like your stitches to be.
- Thread a length of yarn or string onto your needle, or use the small piece of tape to turn one end of the yarn into a temporary needle, preschool-style.
- Stitch the sides of your envelope closed, making large knots at either end to keep the yarn from slipping through the holes.
- Pretend your hole punch is a vampire, and bite two holes close together into the center of your flap, and another two holes into the face of your envelope, just below where the flap folds down, so that the two sets of holes line up with each other.
- Thread yarn through each set of holes, adding a bead to one set of holes and a loop to the other. The loop needs to be sized to fit around the bead, holding the envelope closed. Use your chopstick as needed to help convince the yard to go through the bead.
- Decorate the outside of your envelope as desired.
- Pack your gift inside.
Still looking for reuses for your cereal boxes? We have many! Please visit our Trash Backwards web app, your resource for upcycling just about everything!
Do you have a favorite reuse for thin cardboard boxes? We’d love to hear about it!