Today is the organizing tips edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday, but I have no new organizing tips to impart. Check out my articles on Organizing Girl Scout Troop Information and Things Not To Do: Home Organizing Edition. Meanwhile, here’s an idea for a homemade gift kids can use to surprise their faraway relatives!
In early December, my first-grader was looking at a book of crafts made from trash and came upon this idea: Make a doorstop by decorating a shoebox with scrap fabric or wrapping paper and filling it with gravel. He wanted to make one.
The trouble was that we don’t need a doorstop. In our 90-year-old house, there are some doors that won’t stay shut at times, but we almost never find ourselves needing to prop a door open. I knew that if I allowed Nicholas to make a doorstop for our house, it would only be in the way–and a heavy box left lying around the floor is an obvious hazard to an often tired and clumsy mama.
However, we were headed to my parents’ house for Christmas, and they use doorstops! They have an attic fan. On summer evenings, it fans hot air out of the house into the attic, causing cooler air from outdoors to come in through the windows, and that breeze slams the bedroom doors if they are not propped open. They might have enough doorstops already, but surely they would see a new one as a useful gift to receive. I explained this to Nicholas, and he was happy to make his doorstop a gift for Grandma and Granddad.
The fact that we would be traveling by airplane presented an obvious problem (to me–Nicholas might not have thought of it until he lifted the finished doorstop) : We would not want to carry such a heavy gift in a suitcase, but it would be very expensive to mail! I explained this to Nicholas, and his face fell, but I immediately announced a brilliant work-around: “Decorate the empty box so that we can open it. We’ll put a plastic bag in there to hold the gravel. Then I’ll pack it in my suitcase with some clothes inside so it doesn’t squash. After we get there, we’ll sneak over to the school playground and fill the bag with gravel and hide it under my coat. Then we’ll put it inside the box and wrap the gift.” Nicholas loved the idea of stealthily creating a mysteriously heavy gift!
We didn’t have a spare shoebox, but we found a corrugated cardboard box of about that size, with a hinged lid. Nicholas carefully wrapped blue tissue paper around it and taped it into place with the lid open. (I suggested using a sturdier paper, but he was certain of what he wanted.) Then he used markers to draw dogs and cats and also write DOOR STOP on it to prevent any confusion.
Everything went according to our plan, except that we had not considered the possibility of rain or snow that would make the playground gravel wet. Our first morning there was sunny, and the top surface of the gravel was dry, but when we started scooping we found that the lower gravel was damp. We carefully collected only the top layer. Nobody wants a mildewed doorstop!
My father, a notorious squeezer and shaker of Christmas presents, had little opportunity to investigate this one because we arrived on the evening of the 23rd so didn’t get it under the tree until Christmas Eve morning. But he certainly was startled when he picked it up to open it! What could be so heavy?! And how had we transported it?! Nicholas gleefully explained our clever plan.
A practical, earth-friendly gift that cost pennies (for the tape), was fun and easy for a kid to make all by himself, and provided him with a funny story to tell his friends works for me!