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Recycled milk cartons - gift box, cuckoo clock and house
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Friday FunCrafts using Recycled Materials

Recycled Milk Carton Gift Boxes

What you will make:

In this project, learn how to recycle milk and juice cartons, or any size of gable-top carton, into strong gift boxes. You can either wrap the boxes in your favorite way, or transform the carton into a house, a church or a cuckoo clock using Aunt Annie's patterns. There's even a special Valentine's Day cuckoo clock pattern that will turn your milk carton into a fun classroom mailbox for Valentines.

For added fun, you could make an entire village of houses, stores, churches, and other buildings from various sizes of gable-top cartons. Start today with one building and add new ones in the days and weeks to come. Soon you will have an entire village!

Here's what you need:
  • Empty milk or juice cartons (gable-top)
  • Poster board or cereal box cardboard
  • Ruler
  • Optional: Computer paper, construction paper, glue, foam brush, and crayons or markers
  • Scissors
  • Pencil or pen
  • Tape or staples
  • Gift wrapping supplies

This project is rated EASY to AVERAGE to do.

How to Make a Gift Box from a Milk Carton

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Prepare Carton Prepare milk carton, cut off gable

Any gable-top milk or juice carton will work well for this project. Open the gable and thoroughly wash the carton. Allow the carton to dry completely—overnight is best.

Cut the gable off the top of the carton, cutting on the folds all around the top of the carton. Discard the gable top. Go on to Step 2 to make a gift box, or Step 4 to make a house or a cuckoo clock.

Step 2: Make Gift Box Lid Make lid for gift box

To transform the carton into a gift box, you will need to make a lid from a piece of cardboard about twice the size of the box's top. Poster board or cereal box cardboard both work well.

Place the box top down on the cardboard and trace around it with a pencil or pen onto the cardboard. Remove the box and use a ruler to straighten the sides and square the corners.

The lid will need a hinge and a flap. For the hinge, draw a rectangle on one side of the traced lid. Draw it about ½" to 1" (1-2 cm) deep and the entire width of the traced lid. For the flap, do the same by making a ½" (1 cm)-deep rectangle on the opposite side of the traced lid.

Cut out the lid on the lines you have drawn. For a beveled flap, cut the corners off the flap. Fold the cardboard on the lines for the hinge and flap. Place the lid on the top of the box and attach it at the hinge to the side of the box, using tape or staples.

Wrap gift box Step 3: Wrap Gift Box

Put the gift inside the box and wrap the box in your favorite way. That's it, you are done!

Tip: Cover the box and lid with paper before attaching the lid. Now the box is permanently wrapped.

Step 4: Make a House or a Church (or a Cuckoo Clock)

Instead of adding a lid to the milk or juice carton, you can turn it into a house-shaped box by cutting roof peaks and adding a roof. Make a pattern for cutting the roof peaks by cutting a triangle from paper. Make the triangle's base the width of the box and make the height one-half the width of the box. (Cut a taller triangle for a steep church roof.)

Cut roof peaks for house and cover box with paperTrace the triangle onto opposite sides of the box. Be sure to point the tip of the triangle up and align it with the top of the box. On the other two sides of the box, use a ruler to draw a line connecting the bases of the triangles. Cut all four sides of the box. You should have two roof peaks and two flat sides, even with the bases of the peaks.

Cover the house with solid-colored paper or decorative paper. Use a good quality glue spread thinly on the paper with a foam brush. Fold the excess paper at the top over the sides and the roof peaks, then glue or tape the paper edges inside.

Cut roof and fold Step 5: Cut Roof

Cut a roof from cardboard. Make it a little wider than the box width and long enough to cover both sides of the roof plus ½" (1 cm). To determine the roof's length, measure along the roof peaks. For most ½ gallon cartons, a 4¼" by 6" piece of cardboard should work for the roof.

Fold the roof in half. Tip: Score the fold line with the tip of your scissors to make folding easier.

Attach roof with tape on the inside of the box Step 6: Attach Roof

Place the roof on top of the roof peaks. Attach one side of the roof to the house with tape from the inside. Leave the other side loose to open easily, or attach it with tape or glue. You may want to cover the roof with colored paper before attaching it to the house.

Step 7: Print Cutouts

Choose house cutouts or clock cutouts. There are black & white and colored patterns for each. Download and print the pattern. Color the black & white cutouts, or use them as patterns to trace onto colored paper.

House Cutouts
Printable pattern for house cutouts
Cuckoo Clock Cutouts
Printable pattern for a cuckoo clock
Valentine Clock
Printable pattern for a Valentine theme cuckoo clock
Church Cutouts
Printable pattern for church cutouts

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's Crafts project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

Step 7: Cut and Glue Cutouts

Cut the cutouts, then glue them onto the box to make a house, a church or a cuckoo clock. You could also make your own decorations. What other ideas do you have for the recycled milk carton?

Cut and glue cutouts to decorate the house or clock

That's it! Your gift box is done! Recycled milk cartons - gift box, cuckoo clock and house

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Make a sturdy gift box from a recycled milk carton

Tip: A sturdy gift box is easily made from a recycled milk carton. Wrap the box as you like.

Milk carton transformed into a townhouse

Tip: Cut the milk carton for the addition of a roof, and use Aunt Annie's cutouts to turn the carton into a townhouse.

Milk carton made into a church

Tip: Make a church from a pint whipping cream carton. Add a steeple by cutting a tall triangle from cardboard, then use the triangle pattern for the roof to trace and cut a V-shape in the steeple's base. Slip the steeple over the roof peak and glue in place.

Milk carton made into a church steeple

Tip: If you left one side of the roof open, use the steeple to keep it closed. To secure the steeple in place, cut a 1" slot, no wider than the cardboard, in the roof peak. A chimney cutout can be used in the same way on a house roof.

Milk carton made into a cuckoo clock

Tip: Make a more fanciful gift box with Aunt Annie's cuckoo clock cutouts.

Valentine cuckoo clock

Tip: Use Aunt Annie's special pattern to make a Valentines Day mailbox decorated like a cuckoo clock.

Thanks to Teri, of Winterset, Iowa, for sharing this idea for a cuckoo clock. Teri commented, "My 9 year old daughter and I were looking for an idea for a valentine box, as her 4th grade class is going to have a contest. We didn't want to use the same old shoe box idea that everyone else uses. We used the craft idea of using the milk carton to make a house. We used the cuckoo clock pattern and she wrote on it, "Time to be my Valentine" on one side and "Cuckoo For You" on the other side. It is very cute. We don't care if she wins the contest or not, it was just fun making the project together, and she will definitely have something unique."

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