How to Put Shoe Boxes to Use

April 6, 2011 Two comments View all articles in Re-Use-It

The average woman owns between 20 and 50 pairs of shoes: that's a lot of shoe boxes. One of the major problems with overconsumption is the packaging, which usually goes straight into the landfill. In fact, cardboard and paper account for nearly half of all municipal solid waste. While shoe boxes can easily be recycled, they can first serve a variety of functions by being re-used around the house and in the classroom.


  • Tool Organizer: Stack several shoe boxes on the shelves in your garage, basement, or workshop to keep tools and various other supplies organized.
  • Toy Box: Keep your kids' smaller toys like Barbie clothes and accessories, Matchbox cars, and figurines all in one place and out from underfoot with a shoe box.
  • Office Organizer: Keep your business mail, bills, and receipts in a shoe box so you don't lose them.
  • Gift Box: Put Christmas and birthday gifts inside shoe boxes instead of expensive, store bought cartons.
  • Goody Box: Line a shoe box with aluminum foil and use it to deliver baked goods to friends and neighbors.
  • Storage: Wrap fragile keepsakes such as ornaments, vases, and figurines in newspaper or phone book pages and store them in shoe boxes in between uses.
  • Shoebox Picture Storage
  • Treasure Box: Keep important mementos like letters, greeting cards, and photos safe and in one place inside a shoe box. Decorate the outside with scrapbook materials, gift wrap, or contact paper.
  • Photo Box: A shoe box is the perfect size to store your photos in. Make it more decorative by covering it with contact paper, gift wrap, fabric, or paint. And don't forget to label it.
  • Craft Material: Have some shoe boxes on hand for when your kids need to make dioramas, science fair projects, or shadowboxes for school.
  • Pantry Organizer: Keep a shoe box on your pantry shelf to store take out menus, chopsticks, recipes, coupons, receipts, and the odd ketchup or hot sauce packet.
  • Spice Organizer: Keep your spice jars organized and in one place by storing them in a shoe box. Fit the box inside a drawer or on a cupboard shelf.
  • Shoebox Sock Storage
  • Dresser Organizer: Placed inside dresser drawers, shoe boxes can be great organizers for socks and underwear.
  • Prayer or Suggestion Box: Use a shoe box in your household or office as a prayer or suggestion box; just cut a slit in the lid.
  • Care Package: Know someone serving overseas or maybe just a student away at college? Why not send them a shoe box care package?
  • Shoe Box Donation: Operation Christmas Child sends shoe boxes full of toys and gift items to more than 8 million children each year. Save up your shoe boxes and visit the Samaritan's Purse website for more information.
  • Craft Organizer: Have your child decorate a shoe box with paint, glitter, and/or stickers, and then have them keep their paintbrushes, pencils, and various other craft or school supplies organized inside.
  • Coin Bank: Your children can make a coin bank with a shoe box simply by gluing the lid shut, decorating the outside, and cutting a slit in the top of the lid. For extra flair, have them make pretend money and glue it to the outside of the box.
  • Shoebox Trading Card Storage
  • Trading Card Organizer: Give your kids shoe boxes to keep their trading cards and collectible cards organized.
  • Dollhouse: Help your daughter(s) hot glue several shoe boxes together to make a dollhouse. You can paint the exterior of the boxes to resemble a house and then use gift wrap or paint to decorate the interior. Cut outdoor scenes from magazines and paste them in the windows, and then make miniature curtains from spare fabric you have around the house. Then decorate the rest of the house with existing dollhouse furniture, or make your own from leftover pieces of cardboard. 
  • Sewing Box: A blog entitled “Artists Helping Children” has a supply list and step-by-step instructions for turning a plain shoe box into a decorative and useful sewing box. Smaller boxes like kitchen matchboxes or Animal Cracker boxes go inside to create dividers to keep sewing materials organized. Visit the site and print off the instructions for your child or yourself.
  • Holiday Light Organizer: Trim the edges off a shoe box lid and wrap holiday string lights around the flat cardboard. Store the whole thing inside the box and your lights will stay untangled in between uses. Shoe box plastic bad dispenser
  • Plastic Bag Dispenser: Make a plastic bag dispenser with a shoe box simply by gluing the lid shut, cutting a slit in the top, and stuffing the bags inside. 
  • Pet Bed: Line a shoe box with a fluffy towel and make the perfect, temporary home for that new puppy or kitten.
  • Gift Ribbon Dispenser: To make a useful gift ribbon dispenser, find a garden stake or a wooden dowel slightly longer than the length of a shoe box, cut a hole in both ends, slip ribbon spools over the stake or dowel, and fit the ends through the holes in the box. Tape the ends of the stake or dowel to the box to keep them in place.


Hope Risher on Feb. 9, 2013 at 3:29 p.m.

The Dresser Organizer is a GENIUS idea! I just did it and it saved TONS of space!

Arine on May 18, 2014 at 4:43 a.m.

I worked in the wholesale jewelry industry and we stored all of our inventory in shoe boxes. They keep out the dampness and dust and are easily stacked. As I now design and sell jewelry, I put the gift boxes with my designs into shoe boxes with stock number prefixes so I know if they are necklaces, bracelets, etc.

You can put roll cotton in the bottom and lay jewelry out flat. Stack in layers and lift the cotton to get to different layers. Lay one piece on the very top. This protects both top and bottom of all your jewelry. You can use straight pins (clip off points and file down so they don't scratch) to secure the pieces and prevent slipping when removing layers. Or you can buy professional jewelry pins.

Flip top lidded boxes will securely hold your treasures. Trash can size elastic bands can hold lift off boxes to prevent spilling.

Write the item and layer on the inside box top.

And, put in a small piece of chalk to keep sterling silver from tarnishing. Change the chalk every 6 months.

Wipe your jewelry with a soft cloth before and after wearing. I use the soft white square cloths in the auto supply dept. as these can be washed or thrown away and never scratch.

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