Saturday, February 23, 2019

Hanging Mailboxes

First, thank you all for your encouraging comments and support of Emily's and Sophie etsy store! They've sent out their first batch of orders, so you should be receiving your traveler's notebooks in the mail any day now!

Today's post is a tutorial on how to make these solo hanging mailboxes. 

I call them solo mailboxes because they're sorta like single-address mail drops so you can designate one to each family member (or bedroom door) in your house. 

These are the materials you'll need:
  • a tissue paper box. I find the regular (medium-height) ones are ideal. You can also use the larger/deeper ones and even the shallow kind for cars and hotel rooms. 
  • some card stock
  • some yarn or cord

These are the tools I used:
  • scissors
  • a box cutter/craft knife
  • a ruler
  • a pencil
  • something to poke holes with
  • glue (I've photographed my favorite craft glue, but even regular Elmer's white glue would work)

First, stand the box on its end. The face with the opening-for-pulling-out-the-tissue-paper is the front of the mailbox. Don't worry about the hideous opening itself - it gets hidden under card stock later.

Make a diagonal cut along one side of the box, beginning at the top back edge. For our box, we angled the diagonal so that it ended 2.5" below the top front edge. If your box is deeper or shallower, you might want to adjust that dimension accordingly. The actual gradient of the slant isn't important - just pick something that looks like it actually slopes downward. Cut across the front of the box and up along the opposite side so that the top of the box lifts off and folds back.

Next, cut out the triangular side pieces,

so that you're left with this.

Straighten this bent roof,

and let it fall over the slanty top opening of the box. It will stick out quite a bit over the front. Trim some of it off so that only about 1/2" hangs over the front edge of the box. This is the new roof of the box.

Cut a piece of card stock that's the same size as this roof

and glue it on top of that roof. The card stock adds strength to the roof and prevents it from bending along its natural fold line. Now cut another piece of card stock and stick it on the front of the box, over the tissue-paper opening.

We cut ours a little taller than the front of the box,

so we could fold it over the edge and glue it to the inside of the box for added strength.

Fold back the roof of the box so you can access the back. Poke two holes in the back, close to the hinge. 

We found that the closer the holes are to the hinge, the more vertically the mailbox will hang against the door (or wall). In the photo below, you can see that we've closed the first set of holes and re-poked a new set closer to the hinge.

Thread yarn or cord through the holes and tie the ends together to make a hanging loop. We prefer making a loop to tying knots (like in shopping bag handles) which may slip through the holes.

The mailbox is finished! I chose a tissue paper box that already had a pretty design so that I wouldn't have to cover up more than just the top (roof) and front. You may choose to cover yours entirely with more decorative paper, or even paint it.

Here it is hanging on a door knob. If your pieces of mail are small enough, you can also cut a slot in the top of the box. Otherwise, kids might get frustrated trying to stuff large pieces of mail through the slot. We passed on a slot for ours because we found that a typical tissue paper box is not quite wide enough for a slot that fits postcards and the larger document envelopes.

Instead, lifting the top flap allowed most envelopes to be deposited quite easily inside the mailbox.

Adding name labels to the mailboxes is a simple way to help kids sort mail and practise letter/name recognition.  If your kids are not yet reading, you could also draw caricatures of the faces of family members, as I did when I first made similar mailboxes back in 2008. At the time, Emily was four and reading but neither Jenna and Kate, who were two and newborn, respectively, were.

Labels are easy to make. Adhesive greeter-name labels are super convenient, but small rectangles of printer paper glued on work just as well.

Here are some other mailbox ideas:

Incidentally, I've put a Mailbag in the old Etsy store for you to buy. It's the sample from the Outgoing Mail pattern and as my kids are well past the age (and size) to use it, I thought I'd make it available for someone else to enjoy. If you'd like a Mailbag but aren't inclined to go the DIY route, pick it up from my store!

In the next post, we'll put our Mail Kit together! 


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