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Surprisingly Interesting Ways to Upcycle Empty Shoeboxes

We’ve talked about this before, but there’s something about the fall coming that makes us start going through something like a second “spring cleaning” process, clearing out clutter that has piled up over the summer and getting things in order for when school starts up again for the kids and work gets busy again for us. Recently, we were clearing out some closets and we decided to get rid of some shoeboxes we found sitting in there unnecessarily… until we rethought that idea and started wondering whether there might be a way to reuse them instead. That’s how we found ourselves looking up all kinds of new and different ways to upcycle shoeboxes into things you might actually use!

Just in case you’re as intrigued as we were by the concept of making your old shoeboxes useful again, here are 15 creative and interesting ideas, designs, and tutorials to get you started.

1. Shoebox turned office desk organizer


Speaking of your de-cluttering process, have you been looking at your desk lately and thinking about how messy it is, wishing you could find a simple and affordable way to get some of those things up off the corners and edges while also keeping them easily accessible because those piles are often things you actually need? In that case, we’d definitely suggest taking a look at how Fixitsamo made this organizer for envelopes and papers out of a shoebox, putting a divider in the centre so you can do even more organizing within that!

2. Shoebox Lego school


If you’re going to turn something as affordable and useful as a cardboard shoebox into something else, would you rather make something for your kids, since you love showing them new ways to use their imaginations with unconventional things that aren’t just fancy, store bought toys? In that case, we think you might all get a kick out of the way Creative Hozz used some simple cutting and embellishing techniques to turn their shoebox into a cardboard school for their Lego toys.

3. Shoebox makeup and accessory organizer


Has your child actually just started collecting their first few accessories and pieces of jewelry, which has made her feel very grown up indeed, but she needs a place to put them now even though she doesn’t have quite enough to warrant buying a full, fancy jewelry box? Then perhaps you’d have a better time together learning how to make a cute DIY one from a shoebox, just like this one featured on Crafts and Hobbies 4 U!

4. DIY recharge station


Did we really catch your attention when we started talking about ways to organize your desk using a simple shoebox with a few alterations but your problem is definitely based much more in tangled cords rather than scattered papers? In that case, we think you might get a lot more use out of the way Red Ted Art cut and metal sealed holes in the sides of their box to keep the cords fed through without wrapping around each other, plugging into a power bar placed inside the box.

5. Multi-level shoebox dollhouse


Were your kids immediately enamoured with the idea of making a place for their dolls to live when we showed you the Lego school, but their favourite dolls are actually a little bit bigger, so you know they’re going to need more than one box? Then we think perhaps you’d get along a little better with something like this multi-layered dollhouse complete with a living room, bedroom, and kitchen! Molly Moo Crafts guides you through the process of stacking the boxes and even giving the walls nicely coloured wallpaper.

6. Dinosaur treasure box


Are your kids the kind of little crafters that always want to theme whatever they’re making around the things they love the most, but they learned about dinosaurs in school recently so now they’re completely obsessed? Then we’ve definitely found the best idea for you! Check out how Adventures of Mel turned their empty shoebox into a treasure box that, on the outside and at one end, looks like the head of a triceratops, so the lid and opening where your child will store their treasures looks like the dinosaur’s mouth.

7. Shoebox foosball table


If you’re going to go to the trouble of making something new from an old shoebox with your kids, would you rather make it something they can actually continue using once it’s done? Those are always the most popular crafts in our household, because our kids get to amuse themselves while they’re making it but then continue to get enjoyment from it afterwards because they can keep using it further. That’s why our kids were so excited when we sat down to help them make this DIY foosball table outlined in detail on Instructables!

8. Shoebox lid wall art


Rather than making something really functional and practical, are you the kind of decorative, whimsical crafter that would prefer to turn something unused into something really pretty? In that case, we have a feeling you might get along better with something like this shoebox lid wall collage! DIY Inspired guides you through the process of making different patterns and designs using paint and stencil techniques across the surface of each of the shoebox’s lids.

9. Kids shoebox record player


Are you actually having a great time collecting different ideas for homemade toys made from shoeboxes because you think that sounds like the most fun way to transform something that’s otherwise quite plain, particularly if you’re not using it for anything else? In that case, we think you’ll get a total kick out of this awesome toy record player tutorial featured on Etsy Kids! They show you how to make the turntable on the top out of old CDs or DVDs and the dials from pop bottle lids.

10. Shoebox makeup storage trays


Are you feeling quite intrigued by the ideas you’ve seen so far that let you organize a desk or tabletop, but it’s not actually your writing desk that needs a bit of a hand being tidied? Then maybe you’d prefer to make something like these fantastically metallic painted organizing trays intended to keep your vanity or makeup station cleaned! We love the way Spark and Chemistry shows you how to use piece of the main box to make miniature trays that fit like puzzle pieces inside the shoeboxes’ lids, as well as how easy DIY tray is sized and shaped very well for palettes, compacts, and pencils.

11. DIY shoebox jewelry box with drawers


Were you actually feeling very interested in the idea when we started talking about using an old shoebox to make a creative and embellished jewelry box, but you’re just not sure you loved the style of the one you saw in the tutorial we showed you earlier? In that case, we’d like to present you this alternative design outlined in detail on Lilac Cola! They show you how to make a tall stack of drawers rather than bothering with trying to navigate cardboard doors that will actually close or stay open.

12. Recycled shoebox castle


Just in case you’re still trying to collect as many cute cardboard toy ideas as you possibly can so you have lots of fun, affordable DIY ideas to keep your kids busy with indoors now that the weather is getting colder outside, here’s one that actually shows you how to combine your empty shoebox with other emptied cardboard things, like toilet paper rolls! Get the full details for making this cute castle, with its foundation and all its turrets, on Creative Jewish Mom.

13. Chic shoebox bangle organizer


Perhaps we caught your attention quite well when we started talking about jewelry boxes and ways to organize your vanity, but you’ve realized that bracelets really make up the bulk of what you own, and you find the harder style bangles quite awkward to store? Then we definitely think you’ll find this design outlined step by step on Creative Fashion Blog quite intriguing indeed! They show you how to insert a perfectly measured length of an empty paper towel roll inside your shoebox to make a sort of space efficient rack to hang them on.

14. Fabric covered shoebox jewelry box


Are you actually still very interested in the idea of making yourself a DIY jewelry box now because we’ve talked about it so much, but you think you’d much prefer to make a more classically styled box with simple dividers inside and a tilting lid, even though you’d still really like to make your design pretty and unique? In that case, we’d definitely suggest taking a look at how Ana DIY Crafts used their cardboard shoebox as a base frame for their box but dressed it up and transformed it on the outside using pretty floral fabric and lace!

15. Shoebox jetpack


Just to make sure you really do have lots of awesome cardboard toy ideas before we sign off for this post, here’s another awesome tutorial that will help you turn your old shoebox into something playful that your kids can actually wear! Me, You, and Magoo guides you step by step through the process of making an awesome jetpack, using markers and stickers to add the details and strips of tulle ribbon in orange and yellow to look like fire shooting out the bottom in the midst of a blast off.