Prior to 2020, I never thought that the holidays could be spent so differently. No gathering of cousins, aunts, and uncles, crowding together to escape the wintery air. No sharing of hot cocoa and cookies, while reminiscing over years past. Much like Thanksgiving, our holiday gathering will be small, distanced, and masked – just as I expect it will be for many of you reading this.
And I suspect, like many of you, I have foregone traversing the perils of Walmart and Target, instead indulging in the peace of thought and convenience of online shopping and home delivery. Now, as the year draws to a close, I look at my pile of empty boxes and think to myself: “It doesn’t have to be all bad.”
It was just before Thanksgiving that I was struck with an idea. My family would be meeting, yes, but just a few of us. Included would be a pair of rambunctious twins, my nephews.
I love them dearly and I knew that they were struggling with the concept of social distancing. As I am sure you well know, it is difficult to explain to a child why they cannot hug his or her grandparents. So, I decided to do something about it. While I cannot fix Covid, there is no reason I cannot make social distancing fun.
Gathering up my boxes and armed with the finest of packing tape, I set to work, crafting a cardboard castle.
Phase 1 – Consider your resources and your space.
The boxes I had on hand were rather small. To increase their height, I taped two together to make one “unit” of wall.
It did not take a lot of packing tape. Six pieces in total, one on each of the thin sides and two on each of the broad sides.
I would strongly suggest packing tape for added durability. Scotch or painters tape simply does not have the strength to hold up for long periods of time.
Phase Two – Component creation. Once I had my walls, I considered how efficiently one could assemble or put away the castle.
Ideally, by combining units into base components of the castle preemptively, it would be easier for one person to assemble. That way, if my sister wanted to take it home for the boys, she could put it together on her own.
I felt that creating the corners ahead of time would be the best approach since that was the item that required the most hands (see aid from my mother in the image).
Phase Three – Assembly Test.
In the original incarnation, we used tape on this step. However, if y
ou have it on hand, Velcro is a suitable tool here. A quick search on Amazon revealed a 4 x 2 Inch
2 Set to run about $4.
Once you know how you want the castle built, applying Velcroto these junctions minimizes time spent assembling and lowers resources used as new tape is not needed.
It was here that I realized I could use the holes in the boxes to my advantage. Thankfully, we had some long wooden poles on hand so we could make flagpoles.
Phase 4 – Details and Comfort
During this phase, we had to move inside the garage as it started to drizzle.
To give the building more of a “castle-y” feel, I used some old food containers to create crenellations, which are defensive structures used to create openings for archers to shoot arrows. I also collapsed a box to create the drawbridge. The strings are purely ornamental, but the bridge can stay up with the help of Velcro.
Meanwhile, beach towels were used to add comfort and color.
At the end of the day, I am pleased to report the twins had a great time with their castle. It became their base (complete with my dog playing the part of “Blue robot dragon guard dog”).
All around, a solid win for Thanksgiving. They were kept occupied and content in their space, while my sister was able to kick back and relax a bit, able to enjoy the season.
I am optimistic, with the end of year celebrations, we should be seeing a return of the Castle Cardboard.
Written by Courtney Regensburger, Covington Branch
Public Services Library Associate & Scheduler