Friday, May 18, 2012

Holiday Home Instant Upcycled Dolls' House

During a recent holiday at a seaside bach (that's Kiwi for holiday house, beach house, holiday cottage etc) I realised that I hadn't packed enough toys for my children.

My logic had been that a holiday house is an exciting new place to be, and they wouldn't need too many toys.  I could give them pots and pans to play with, they could do a bit of drawing, but most of their time would be spent playing outside or at the beach.

As it happened, the weather decided to be very changeable, and my husband ended up having to do a few hours' work every morning, leaving me to occupy the little people.  It wasn't quite the family beach holiday I'd imagined...

I've always been a fairly crafty sort of person, and as a child I loved to take old boxes and bottles and other useable rubbish, and upcycle it into something new.  There's nothing quite so satisfying as using up leftovers - and to me that includes food AND rubbish or junk.  It's good for the soul, and good for the budget.

We weren't on a completely budget holiday, but I wasn't about to go out and buy toys my children already owned at home, or rubbishy plastic ones from a dollar store that would break within a day.  Besides which, there wasn't a toy shop for miles!

So one evening, when the children had FINALLY settled down, I rummaged through the recycling bin full of cardboard, paper, platic and tin to see what my budget-conscious, creative fingers could upcycle into toys.  A doll's house seemed like a quick and easy thing to make, and something the kids would love.

Here's how I made my holiday home instant upcycled cardboard dolls' house!

You Will Need

  • Scissors and/or craft knife or serrated kitchen knife (the kind of budget knife you find in a holiday house kitchen is perfect!).
  • Sticky tape or Sellotape.
  • A smallish cardboard box to upcycle.
  • A loo roll, kitchen paper roll or other cardboard tube from your recycling bin.  Alternatively you can use the off-cuts from the cardboard box you're using for the main house.

1/ Preparation

Remove top flaps from the box, and ensure all remaining flaps are stuck down.

2/ The basic house

Use scissors/knife to cut a front door (a double door is nice), a back door and some windows.  I used the centre of my sticky tape roll to draw a circle and cut a circular window.  Try to cut carefully so that you get squares and a circle - they come in handy later!

So, easy as pie you have your basic recycled box dolls' house.

3/ Dining table

Take the circle you cut out for the window, and two squares.  Cut half way down to the centre of each square in a straight line.  Turn one piece the other way up, and slot together to make a cross.  These are your table legs.

Use sticky tape to stick the legs piece to the underside of your circle, and hey presto - a dining table for your dolls.

As you can see, the table I made was a little too high - how were these dolls going reach to eat their dinner?!

I had two options: cut the table down, or make a few DIY chairs or stools to go with the dolls' dining table.  Well, in for a penny....

4/ Cut four (or however many stools you want) rounds from your cardboard tube.  If you don't have a cardboard tube, make shorter legs using the same method you used for the dining table legs.
Use card from the flaps you removed from the top of the box, or any other recylable card you have lying around, to cut squares or circles for the seats.  I found some nice yellow card to add a splash of colour to my budget house!

Stick the tube rounds to the stool tops, and you're done.
Stick the tube rounds to the stool tops using sticky tape on the underside, and you're done.

A house fit for my youngest's budget dollar shop dolls (she breaks things) and her older sister's Strawberry Shortcake and friends. If your kids are into larger dolls like Barbie and Action Man, just choose a larger cardboard box to start with.  

My girls were thrilled to come down next morning and find a doll's house to play with!


For more up-beat parenting/child related posts, see "Jumping on Castles" and "Top That: Party Nightmares"

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(c) Naomi Madelin

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