DIY Toy Box — A Fun (and Useful!) Summer Activity


The kids are out of school, which means plenty of home-based fun time—and plenty of toys and craft supplies scattered from one end of the house to the other.

You could spend all your time repeating some version of the following: “Can you please pick up your stuff?” Or you could use a new approach and make clean-up time more fun by having the kids use toy boxes they custom decorated.

The bonus? The design phase is an activity all its own, perfect for those rainy days when the tykes are in the house and underfoot!


The Toy-Sorting Stage

Begin by involving the kids in the sorting decisions. Do they want a separate box for each type of item? Do they each want their own container? Will one bin be designated for indoor items while another marked “Outdoor Toys Only”?

Once you have answers to these questions you’ll know how many bins you’ll need. (Tip: You might want to get one extra one for those “too good to toss” toys the kids have outgrown. These can become garage sale goodies.)

Next, purchase the soon-to-be customized toy boxes—i.e. our 18-gallon storage tote in blue, black or clear (find it HERE). The size—23.5″ x 17.5″ x 15.5″—is large enough to hold small toys, craft supplies, and other assorted playthings without being too unwieldy for the little ones to handle.

Now it’s time for your tykes (with adult help!) to give their artistic abilities full rein!


The Design Phase

The sky can be the limit when it comes to deciding how to decorate the exterior of the bin. For example, if the bin will hold outdoor toys, give the box a natural look with burlap fabric, then add some ornamentation such as wooden silhouettes of birds, flowers or miniature fences from the craft store. (Tip: Have the kids paint them first before attaching.) Or, for a softer touch, use quilted fabric, felt or faux fur—ideal for toddlers.

Storing swim toys? Give the bin a nautical flair with blue-and-white striped cotton fabric, trimmed with white cording. If you’re keeping the bin outdoors, try using a water-repellent fabric.

Attaching the material is easy. Cut separate pieces for each side, the bottom, and the lid, with an inch or two extra for overlap. Then, using spray glue, attach each piece to the exterior of the bin. If desired, you can use a coordinating color for the interior.

For bins designated for specific items—for instance, cars and trucks or doll clothes and accessories—decoupage the exterior with images that match the toys to be stored. This helps with cleanup since even the littlest ones can figure out quickly what type of toy goes in which box.

Prefer not to use fabric? Spray or brush-on paint is another good choice. It’s available in a wide selection of colors and finishes, including brush-on glow-in-the-dark paint. For maximum adherence, first apply a coat of primer or paint made specifically for plastic.

For an added artistic touch, once the base shade is applied, add designs using stencils (homemade or from the craft store) and another shade of paint. Then, after you’ve painted the bin, add a coating of clear stain.

Keep the mess to a minimum by setting the bin and lid on a blue tarp before painting and having each painter wear disposable gloves.

Now that your kid-focused DIY project is complete, you might consider using the same idea for all the grown-up “toys” that you have accumulated!


DIY Toy Box

Things you will need:

-18-gallon storage tote (buy it HERE)


-Glue gun

-Glue sticks

-Spray adhesive

-X-ACTO knife

-Fabric to decorate with



Step 1: Determine style

-Is the bin for outdoor toys? Indoor toys? Once you decide on what the tote will hold, you may have a better idea of how you want to decorate it.


Step 2: Measure fabric

-Measure the fabric so that it completely covers the tote A little overlap is fine.


Step 3: Cut fabric

-Use scissors or an X-ACTO knife to cut the fabric so that you have a piece to cover each side of the tote, including the bottom and the lid.


Step 4: Apply adhesive and adhere fabric

-Next, spray the tote with adhesive. Spray one side at a time and let the adhesive dry for 1 minute. Apply fabric. Be sure to smooth out the wrinkles and make sure the fabric is holding.


-Step 5: Touch-up

-After applying the fabric, use the glue gun to touch up the edges. Repeat steps 4 & 5 with other sides. Add embellishments to complete your design.