As every parent knows, each holiday and birthday brings more toys into the house. Stuffed animals, action play sets, cars, blocks…the list is endless. While those holiday presents might bring a massive amount of excitement to kids, parents often struggle with where to put it all. There are only so many toys that can litter a bedroom, the basement or the garage. So when the new items and the latest greatest toys make their appearance, how do you make room for it all?
Your kids’ old toys can be a DIY dream and recycled into useful household items. So for all those chipped, chewed and just too worn down items that you can’t donate, repurpose those old playthings and give them a second life. Here are 15 ways to recycle all those old toys!
Lettered Blocks: Build a Sign
Many kids have lettered blocks of some sort. If those blocks are the standard wood variety, you have many options for DIY. Maybe you can’t donate them because a few letters or numbers were lost. That’s ok. Instead, grab a glue gun and get crafty!
Those blocks can be used to create fun holiday greetings, name signs or just create a unique message. Choose your message, then glue the blocks together with hot glue and let your creation dry. Add a hook to the back or just create a standalone sign. You may even want to personalize a family sign with your last name and hang it on your front door. You also can spell out your child’s name and hang the sign on your child’s door or bedroom wall. These blocks make a fun and quirky décor option for curio cabinets, the fireplace or anywhere else you want to add a word!
No matter what you spell or create with those blocks, they can add a funky and cute charm to your home.
Mini Cars: Decorate a Planter
Those small race cars turn into a mountain of automobile mayhem over time. Suddenly, your son or daughter has amassed hundreds. Some thrift stores may put small cars in bulk bags for other parents to collect. But, really, even donating all those small automobiles can be annoying. And thrift store employees probably don’t enjoy sifting through all those tiny toys. So, what do you do with them?
Make a planter or other container, of course! If you have a glue gun, you’ll need it again! Before you get crafting and gluing, though, you’ll need to arrange the cars to figure out how you want to shape your new planter. Once you have a general idea, then you can start gluing those little cars together. For new crafters, a box-shaped planter is easiest. You may need to buy a liner for your planter so that moisture doesn’t leak out. However, you also don’t have to use this new box or container just for plants. This funky storage can hold crayons, magazines, pencils or whatever you want. It also will be a great accent piece for tables or on your child’s book case or bureau.
Fashion Dolls & Action Figures: Build a One-of-a-kind Rack
Those fashion dolls were once oh so glamorous. Now? Not so much. Maybe the hair on those dolls is matted or the doll has aged beyond its years. So now what? Trendhunter shows that you can turn all those dolls into one crazy—and kind of creepy—chandelier!
You also could use those dolls to create a unique coat rack for your child’s room. All you need is sanded and painted plywood (choose your color), a hook for the back and several fashion dolls. You can try this craft two ways; you can line the dolls up in a standing position and glue their backs to the board with their arms outstretched (using the arms as hooks). Or you can position the dolls in a sitting position and use their legs as the hooks. Your dolls may have arms long enough to outstretch for hooks, but always test the arm length first (just hold the arms out and try to hang a coat or hoodie on the arms).
Whatever position you choose, you may need to glue the arms or legs in place, so they don’t fall. After the glue sets, test the weight of coats or hoodies to ensure that the ‘hooks’ are secure. You may need to try different dolls before you commit to your design—some fashion dolls have different leg or arm lengths and might not work. This craft may be a bit trial and error; so, again, check your dolls and position them before you glue. And make sure those dolls are fully clothed!
Have an action figure instead? Like the fashion dolls, you can glue these guys to a piece of ply board to create a DIY coat rack. Just make sure legs or arms are long enough—and secure enough—to hold coats. Or just glue a ton of these guys together to create one unique massive wall art sculpture.
Toy Trains and Tracks: Decorate the Garden
This is easy! Use these old toys to accent your garden! Glue or position the tracks outside and then glue the engines to the track. You can also make railroad crossing signs to decorate your garden or flower beds.
Stuffed Animals: Craft a Rug
Oh, the nest of stuffed animals is the worst. Somehow these fluffy puffy cuddly friends just keep reproducing. Some are large, some are small. But they always take up the whole bed…or maybe even the room. Donating them is questionable, but you shouldn’t throw them away either.
On Pinterest, you can find recycled stuffies turned into rugs or even chairs. Pelt those stuffed animals (that is, remove the stuffing), and use the casing or pelts to sew into a rug or maybe even add a piece of flannel to the back of the pieced together stuffies to create a blanket. If you’re going to pelt these little guys, sewing is probably your best way to fasten them together. Hot glue might be too scratchy. Just make sure you use a durable sewing needle for your machine; you don’t want to snap the needle!
Crayons: Melt into Candles
Every fall, parents buy yet another box of crayons for the school year. Eventually, every household amasses more crayons than they can handle. Broken crayons litter the floor; and every crayon hue is owned in duplicates. Melt these guys down to create unique crayons or to craft one funky candle.
Toy Bricks: Make a Picture Frame
You know the bricks—they are rectangle or square with little nubs to fasten them together. And they hurt like nobody’s business if you step on one. After the buildings are constructed, these little blocks somehow find their way to other places of the house and wreak havoc on our feet. But since they lock together, you can create all sorts of fun items with them. Create a picture frame or even a key holder.
Play Dishes: Water Catchers
While play food can be a little more difficult to repurpose, those little dishes can come in handy in the garden. Use little teacups to plant flowers or small seedlings. Set them on your outdoor table as a fun little accent and set the match saucer beneath them to catch the water!
Board Games: Hang on the Wall
Oh the board games with missing pieces. So frustrating! Use those boards as funky wall art. If you have the playing pieces, glue them on the board to add character and depth! You also can cut the cardboard into letters and piece them together to make a fun room sign. Or just etch out your child’s initials or monogram from these leftover boards. You may want to use an x-acto knife for a precise cut.
Dress Up Clothes: Sew a Knapsack
If your children played dress up, you may have lots of leftover play clothes. If they are too tattered for donation, sew them into a cute quilt or throw blanket. You also may be able to create a fun and unique knapsack.
Doll Houses: New Storage Material
If those doll houses have been foreclosed, turn them into sweet storage. Put that house in the closet and use it to store shoes, socks or maybe even just more toys!
Old Sports Gear: Make a Helmet a Planter
Helmets that are cracked or worn can be used as planters to show your team spirit. You may even want to frame old jerseys or cut them up and make them into a blanket. Got a ton of baseballs? Paint them with unique patterns, place them in a bowl and set the arrangement on your table as a centerpiece.
Rattles and Baby Toys: Reuse for a Baby-Theme Picture Frame
Remember the memories and add an old (and favorite) baby toy to a picture frame. Use hot glue to fasten it on, and then place your favorite baby picture inside the frame!
Jewelry Rubber Bands: Make a New Toy!
There was a time when everyone made bracelets and rings out of tiny rubber bands. If you have hundreds of those old bands leftover, create something fun. A helpful YouTube video shows you how to repurpose those colorful rubber bands into a fun high-bounce ball!
Holidays and birthdays mean more toys to fill already stuffed rooms. But when the new items make an entrance, it’s time to donate or repurpose those old toys. If stuffed animals, dolls, cars, sports equipment or other items are too damaged or worn to donate, give them another life. There are so many ways to repurpose old toys, and, for most projects, all you need is a glue gun, a little time and some patience. Craft planters, coat racks, picture frames or funky wall art and turn those worn out toys into the next conversation piece for your home!
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