Don’t send your kid to school with a decorated paper bag on Valentine’s Day! Go the extra mile to make this quick, easy, and adorable realistic Valentine mailbox, and you’ll be the parent that everyone else is gossiping about for a while.
However, if you want to bring it up a notch this Valentine’s Day, if you want to be known by all the other classroom parents as “THAT mom/dad,” if you want your kid to have not just any Valentine mailbox, but the best, most super-awesome Valentine mailbox, then have I got the project for you!
Yeah, I had a little too much free time this week, and so I figured out how to send my kids to their homeschool Valentine’s Day party with not just another decorated paper bag, but with a realistic, working mailbox, made entirely from cardboard recycled from around my kitchen.
Do you want to be THAT mom or dad, too? Here’s how to make your own recycled cardboard Valentine mailbox:
First, look all around your kitchen and gather up that thin kind of cardboard that’s used for all kinds of packaging–cereal boxes, cracker boxes, dry rice and pasta boxes, whatever.
You will need four pieces of cardboard: one piece about 10″x15″, one piece about 5″x10″, and two pieces about 5″x5″, although don’t cut down those 5″x5″ pieces just yet. If you don’t have one piece of cardboard that’s large enough, then you can duct tape the cardboard together to reach the right size–just overlap the pieces slightly, and duct tape both the front and the back of the seam.
You do not, however, want your mailbox to look as if it’s made of cereal boxes duct taped together, because that’s not going to make you the hot topic of conversation among the other parents, so now you must choose some pretty paper to cover both sides of each of your cardboard pieces.
For our project, my daughters chose scrapbook paper, but other ideas are wallpaper, magazine pages, wrapping paper, tissue paper, crepe paper, book pages, maps, or artwork.
To apply the paper the most smoothly, use a spray adhesive, following the instructions on the can.
The big piece of cardboard is going to be the top of your mailbox, and the smaller rectangle is going to be the bottom.
Hot glue each 10″ side of the big piece of cardboard to each 10″ side of the smaller piece, letting the big piece curve around- don’t crimp it!
After the hot glue has cooled, you can sand it down for a smoother finish, if you wish.
Lay each open end of the mailbox on top of each of the small 5″x5″-ish pieces of cardboard and trace an outline of the opening.
On the piece that will be the front of the mailbox, add an extra inch at the bottom to create a hinge. You can also trace your outline of this piece so that this extra inch or so comes from the adjacent side of the cardboard box, creating a natural hinge.
Cut out these end pieces, cover them with pretty paper, and glue them onto the mailbox, gluing the back end piece all the way around, but gluing the front end piece only below its bottom hinge.
Now your mailbox should be shaped like a real mailbox, and the door should open and close. To keep it closed, hot glue ribbon or twist ties or even Velcro to the door and the roof of the mailbox as a latch.
If you’d like a flag on your mailbox, cover another piece of cardboard, or use a twig or an old ruler. My daughters made their own flags for their own mailboxes, but you could also use thematically-appropriate decorations for your flag, or even a sized-down coloring page.