Here's a simple recipe for fun: grab a couple of shipping boxes (often in ample supply at this time of year, thanks to holiday deliveries), a plastic bowl, duct tape, and a few items from the recycling bin, and assemble the perfect play center for aspiring chefs. Whether you place it as a gift beneath the tree or make it with your child as a cure for the "I'm bored" winter blahs, it's sure to win rave reviews.
Crafters Tip. For knobs, choose caps with holes in them, such as the tops of spice jars or squeeze bottles of shampoo. You can also make a hole with a hammer and a nail.
Take It Further. Think small when stocking the kitchen's shelves: little cans of tomato paste, empty food boxes in compact sizes, plastic cups, and toy dishes and cookware. Add adhesive-backed hooks for dish towels or pot holders.
Base units. Seal two matching shipping boxes (ours are 18 inches square) with tape. Use a craft knife and straight edge to cut out rectangles (our cabinet opening is 14 inches square; the oven opening is 10 by 12 inches).
Doors. For durability and clean lines, use duct tape to edge the cutout rectangles. Make a pair of cabinet doors by applying a tape strip down a rectangle's center, then cutting through the strip. For sturdy hinges, apply tape strips oveerhanging the edges along the sides of the cabinet doors and the oven door's bottom. Set the doors in place, then press the overhanging tape onto the base.
Top units. Fold tape over the edges of a pizza box for the above-sink window and more boxes for the stove's shelf unit. Attach the units with tape as shown in the picture.
Sink and faucets. Set a rimmed plastic bowl into a round hole cut in the sink unit (it should be 1 inch smaller than the bowl's diameter). Make holes for soapdispenser pumps.
Knobs. Gather colorful plastic bottle and jar caps. Insert a long bolt through a hole in each cap and through the base. Secure the bolt inside with a nut.
Curtains. For a no-sew window treatment, snip a pillowcase into a squared-off U. Secure the curtain with double-sided carpet tape along the top edge. Gather the side panels with ties and tape up a pretty view behind them.
Burners. Use permanent marker to draw coils on paper plates, then attach them to the stove top with strips of carpet tape.