Tea Caddy from Recycled Cardboard

This morning after brunch I was overcome with the urge to clear out my tea cupboard and organize it. People who have had a cup of tea when they’ve come over to my house know very well that I have an overwhelming number of tea choices. I usually start helping people narrow it down by asking “herbal or caffeinated?” and then move on to “rooibos, chamomile, or fruit blend?” or “white, green, or black tea?” depending on what they choose.

The hard part is actually finding the tea once people pick what they want, and I’ve meant to rearrange everything for a while, but never got around to it. It was high time I did, though: look at this disorganized mess!

Many of my teas come in cardboard boxes, as you can see, and I had a ton of little boxes where I had a few tea bags left – not enough to justify saving an entire box. As I organized my teas, I saw how all the boxes were just about the same size and thought, why not attach them together to make them easier to store?

So here’s a simple project that will take under an hour with materials you probably already have around the house. You could do this with other small boxes, like those tiny, shallow jewelry boxes, and organize them in clever ways to make trays for office supplies, buttons, beads, or other little crafty treasures.

I think at this point I’m nesting or something, waiting for this baby to come, because doing this project was very satisfying.

Materials

  • 3-5 small cardboard boxes all the same height and length
  • tape
  • scissors
  • contact paper – OR – kraft paper/wrapping paper/grocery bag plus glue stick

Directions

If your boxes have extraneous flaps, cut them off.

Line up your boxes in the order you want them in – you can see the one on the left is a little wider to accommodate some of the wider bags.

Use your tape in long strips to attach the tops of the boxes together.

They should be neatly joined by their tops when you’re done.

Now flip the whole thing over and tape up the cracks between boxes on the bottom.

Tape up both sides as well. Now your caddy should feel sturdy. It’s functionally complete, but not very pretty. Let’s decorate it!

I had contact paper lying around the house, complete with a convenient grid on the back which helped me position the box on the paper and trace around it, and then extend the sides to cover all the surfaces. If you use kraft paper or wrapping paper, a long quilting ruler or other see-through ruler will help you make nice, neat edges. Add a “seam allowance” of about 1/4″ to 3/8″ on all sides. You’ll need to make a little clip in each inside corner so that it will wrap neatly around the edges of the box. (See later photos for a better illustration of this)

Cut out your cover. Basically it looks like an exploded box with no top! If you’re using contact paper, carefully peel off the backing and lay it down sticky-side up. Otherwise cover the wrong side of your cover with glue.

Carefully line up the caddy in the middle of the cover and press to make a good, strong contact. Now you can see how the sides will fold up around the caddy.

Starting with the narrow ends, fold up the cover and press firmly. You can see that the cover extends about 3/8″ on either side and the top, and that I’ve notched the sides to make it look nice. Wrap these around the edges and top of the box. Repeat with the other end.

Now fold up the front and back sides of the cover and press firmly. I waited until the cover was in position before notching at the seams between boxes, so that they would line up perfectly. Press each of these little tabs down into the box.

Here you can see all the little tabs pressed down, for a nice, neat finish. You’re done!

Here’s another view of the finished caddy.

Fill with tea! Look how much better my tea collection looks already.

Here’s my caddy in the cupboard above the sink where I keep my tea. Look how nice it is, and how easy it will be to pull it down and hand it to a guest for them to peruse their tea options!

Have fun!

(BTW, my awesome new DSLR came yesterday so all these pictures were taken with that! I had such a blast making this tutorial.)

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