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Store kids’ Christmas haul in a toybox they’ve helped make

Ilyce R. Glink
Y! Homes | Project Center
November 27, 2012

There's a lot to love about Christmas, but most kids would agree the best thing about the holiday is the gifts that come along with it. Whether they believe in Santa or not, they know that come Christmas morning there'll be a little something under the tree waiting for them.

This season, put the kids to work creating a place to house all those toys. With some paint, stencils and a little creativity, kids can create a unique DIY toy box to store the spoils of Christmas. You can use a plastic storage tote or a store-bought wooden toy box that has not been stained. If you're particularly handy, you can build the wooden toy box yourself.

Once you've chosen the box, it's time to get creative. Have the kids choose the motif, but try to avoid holiday-themed colors or stencils. It will look great on Christmas, but in the middle of July the Santa-themed toy box might be more of an eyesore. Instead, encourage kids to think of favorite animals, plants or movies they'd like to showcase on the box.

After settling on a motif, think about color. Just because you're going with a dinosaur theme doesn't mean the box needs to be green and brown. Instead, think about vibrant, kid-friendly colors like bright blues, yellows and purples. If you're using a wooden box, consider a neutral color for the base and bright colors for the stencils.

Many of this season's popular color combinations are perfect for kids' and preteens' rooms. Pair bright yellow with subtle grey for a more subdued pop of color, or go completely bold with bright pink and neon green.

Don't be nervous if you and your child are not the artistic types. Thousands of stencils are available in stores and online of nearly every type imaginable. Choose a couple and create a pattern, or select a variety and create an entire scene. Simply tape the stencils onto the toy box — make sure the base coat is dry first — and trace using a foam brush and acrylic paint. Be sure to finish with a clear varnish to preserve the finished product.

You don't have to stick to stencils, either. Try sponge-painting the box in your child's favorite colors, or cut out photos from books and magazines and use them to decorate the box. Older children might enjoy a simple toy or blanket box with their name printed on the front in their favorite color. Again, cover with a clear varnish to ensure the finished product lasts for years to come.

This custom toy box also makes a great Christmas gift. Simply add your children's wrapped gifts to the box, close the lid and add a big bow. They may get tired of the toys inside, but they'll surely cherish this handmade gift well into adulthood.

Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally syndicated real estate columnist, blogger and radio talk show host, and managing editor of the Equifax Finance Blog. Follow her on Twitter @Glink.