If you’ve had or have young kids, I probably don’t need to tell you that a little imagination can go a long way.  My husband, on the other hand, was less than thrilled when I proposed that we build an old western town out of cardboard for my son’s cowboy-themed first birthday party.

I could tell that my husband didn’t believe the kids were going to like the box town and I could sense that he thought I was wasting my time by adding another BIG project to my list of things to do in preparation for the party.  However, I had done some google research and I knew how cute this project could turn out so I was determined!  I will tell you now that when the old west box town was finished, my husband had changed his tune and he even complimented me on a job well done.

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The old west box town was a hit with the kids (even the bigger kids) and made an adorable back drop for photos.

If you are thinking that you could never pull something like this off because you are not crafty, let me tell you that basic elementary art skills are all that you need.  Perhaps the best part about this fun idea is that the price cannot be beat!  Assuming that you have some common household items handy (i.e. duct tape, box cutter, paint brushes, tin foil, sponge, etc.), this simple project can be completed for about $10.  Yes, you read that correct!  The only thing that I needed to buy was the craft paint.

First, I called around to some local appliance stores to ask if they were looking to get rid of any large boxes. Most stores told me that I was welcome to take any boxes that they had placed outside for recycling (by the way, that was me all dressed up in my work clothes poking around the dumpster behind S.K.Lavery in West Hartford a few weeks ago).  You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I brought home a truckload full of heavy duty cardboard.  Looking back, I think this was the moment that he realized I was not giving up and he was going to have to help me with my fun little project.  He’s a good egg!

I cut the boxes and then reassembled them with tape so that the blank cardboard was on the outside and then I traced out my preliminary designs for doors, windows, etc. before doing any cutting.   I made a jail, using empty paper towel tubes wrapped in tin foil for the bars and my hubs helped me make a saloon, complete with swinging shutter doors.

Saloon

We also made a trading post and an outhouse.  Decorating and painting was the fun part!  I drew cinder blocks on the jail cell, old wooden clapboard on the outhouse, and I used a sponge to stamp bricks on the trading post.  I printed WANTED flyers with my son’s picture on them and taped them around the box town.  I also brought out a few of our horse toys and purchased cowboy hats and bandanas for party favors.

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Our old west town probably received just as much action as the swing set and bounce house so it was well worth the effort!

Box town

I encourage you to make a box town or village of your own.  The possibilities are endless and I guarantee you that your little ones will have a blast.  There is no need to wait for someone’s birthday because you could even have the kids help with the painting/decorating and do this as a family craft project or you could do a holiday theme.  Be creative!

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