Ingredients: leftover box, recycled wrapping paper & fabric off-cuts, drawing pins, variety of colours of paint including gold, puppets or small toys

The Big Sell: ‘you’re bored already?!? You only just got your new presents! Well, ok, let’s make something …’

Strategy: Not long after ‘The Big Day’, something infuriating happens (well it does in my household at least) and I realise for the zillionth time (I never learn) that we didn’t need to buy them so much stuff, what they really wanted this Christmas was our time.

In our house this year, quarantined by illness, this is something of which we’ve had plenty. As we’ve slowly recovered and creative juices started to flow again, we worked on our own homemade Puppet theatre, as follows:

1) take a large rectangular box and cut off one of the longer flaps, this cut edge will form the top of the theatre facing you.
2) turn the box around to the back and, ensuring this side is still taped together cut a long hole (about 10cm high) along the full width of bottom section of the box (this will form the hidden hole where your children can hold the puppets up)
3) turn the theatre to the front again and take your time painting a landscape of your choice on the background
4) now paint the remaining three flaps red, decorate with gilded patterns and words ‘Puppet Show’. Make sure the long bottom flap is raised (held up by more drawing pins) to obscure the hole at the bottom of the background from the audience. The side flaps can extend to either side to form wings.
5) add curtains from fabric off cuts and attach with drawing pins.
6) once dry, position on a low table which your child can sit behind, add puppets and invite your child to play!

This worked amazingly well and the box was large enough for both children to be able to fit their hands in. The adults sat back and enjoyed some wonderful improvised plays.
Whilst its infuriating that the box is often more successful than the toy, you may as well make the most of it and nurture your child’s creative potential.

Catchphrase: ‘He’s behind you … Oh, yes he is!!’

Left wanting more?

If your child needs help devising their script, try telling a stepping stone story first with them (take it in turns to tell short segments of a story) to draw together some dramatic ideas.

Play a turn-taking game of ‘guess something odd about my puppet’ (they have a funny accent / like to walk the tightrope / have an evil laugh) to help them develop character traits.

If you want add more backdrops to your set, cut a long slot in the top of the box and drop in sheets of painted paper sellotaped to lolly sticks to hold them at the top.