We are days from Christmas, and if you live long distance from family like we do, chances are, large boxes are descending upon your house. The shipment from our Texas Santa arrived late this week. I waited until the girls were asleep to unpack everything… and when I opened the box, I saw bubble wrap, loads of craft paper and all the makings for a toddler-size, gingerbread playhouse. Oh, and loads of presents too!
* I did no shopping for this – everything you see came inside the box as packaging, or I already had in the house, but here’s the list of materials we used
Foam craft cutouts (Dollar Store!) and stickers
Ribbon, Pom poms, craft sticks
Cost: Free – see above
Prep Time: Less than 15 minutes
Clean-up Time: Less than 5 minutes
Given the season, and Big M’s current obsession with Gingerbread houses, it only made sense that our brown cardboard playhouse would be holiday themed. However, you can certainly do this year round with any decorations or theme. First, how to convert the box into a house…
After emptying the box, I cut off two of the top flaps (opposing sides), leaving two flaps attached. With packing tape, I secured a loose flap to the two flaps still attached to the box, laying them on top of one another with about 50% overlap, The joined, extended flaps now formed a peak, which I also taped together with packing tape. Now that I had four sides and a roof, all I needed was a door! My Grandmother, the professional baker, used to cut cardboard and wrap it with decorative foil to form platforms for her cakes, and she taught me the easiest way to cut cardboard was with a serrated bread knife… watch your (and your little one’s) fingers!
Guru tip: Use a serrated bread knife to slice through cardboard like butter!
I had the rare luxury of a babysitter on Friday morning, so I built the house structure and left the decorating materials out on the counter for them to play with while I was gone. When I returned, they had made and attached a few foam decorations and decorated the walls with markers… Big M even drew her first self-portrait on the roof!
Big M was eager to show me all she had done, but quickly informed me that a Gingerbread House is supposed to be decorated with candy… so we started making some. We wrapped small, red plastic solo plates left over from some long forgotten party in bubble wrap and tied the ends off with ribbon. Big M then informed me we needed to fill the plates with pom poms first…
Next, Big M pulled out the mounds of packing paper that had been crumpled in the bottom of the box. She helped me flatten it out, and I showed her how to make accordion folds to make a Gingerbread man chain that we strung up around the house. She added leftover ribbon, and I went and grabbed a strand of lights from the attic… we plugged them in and she “Ooohhhed…” and declared it “Sparkly!” At this point Lil’ M woke up from her nap, and wanted to help again too, which is often Big M’s exit cue. But she decided to round up all the ornaments she’s been making all month and put them up inside the house!
The kiddos are both obsessed with the Crayola Pip-Squeaks markers – they come in a 64-count box, like the giant box of crayons that used to have the sharpener in the box when I was a kid. I am too because their smaller size forces proper pencil-grip… Look at that grip – she’s 16 months old! Love it!
So we now have a life (toddler) size Gingerbread House in our family room, likely here to stay through Christmas, or as long as hubby can stomach looking at it. But whenever he wants to remove it, he’s going to have to evict it’s new resident… Lil’ M has made herself nice and cozy in there with blankie and binkie!
Happy house making everyone! Share your masterpieces with us on Facebook or tag as on Instagram @PGPBMeghan! We will be spending the rest of this week enjoying our time together as family, so Merry Christmas to you all and stay tuned for our posts in the new year!