Cardboard Cafe

Want to go some place good to eat?? Some place that’s not too crowded? With good food, and great service?? I think I know the perfect place!

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A special thank you to 45Wall Design for inspiring today’s post, and to my amazingly awesome husband who gifted me with several rolls of gummed reinforcement tape as part of my Christmas gift this year. Because nothing says “I love you”, like several rolls of gummed reinforcement tape and a large assortment of cardboard boxes!! Have I mentioned how much I adore this man?

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The banner has made several appearances on this blog — first as a garden center, and later as a lemonade stand. Mark made it from PVC pipe (cheap, readily available, and easy to work with. The PVC pipe, not Mark.), and when it’s not in use, it comes apart to store easily under the sofa. (Ha! You didn’t know I keep these things under the sofa, did you? Oh yes, this house is full of surprises.) 

The display stand may also look familiar because it was used for our flower shop (it’s a cheap shoe rack, similar to this one). This time, we added some cardboard and bulletin board trim to the shelves. Most of the play food we made ourselves — especially the donuts (made from dollar store socks) and sponge cake (made from real sponges!). The girls were gifted with a Melissa & Doug play food set this year, and it is wonderful! They especially love the little crates that come with the set.

Emily and Clara have really been enjoying this fun cardboard cafe setup, but I think I had the most fun while building it! Cardboard is supreme!!! 

One day, Mark came home from work with several empty cable spindles for me to craft with — they make great cake stands with a take-out cookie tray container on top!

Shelving all made with beautiful, glorious, and free cardboard!!  

The girls were hard at work keeping their teddy bear customers happy!
  Such great service! What wonderful atmosphere! The food is delicious! I’ll definitely be back to this cafe again soon. Nom nom nom…. …and we’ll be inviting lots of friends to come over to play!!

Yay for cardboard!!! And another thank you to 45Wall Design for the inspiration and for confirming my cardboard crafting addiction. 🙂

More Cardboard Play Time Fun:


  1. Totally love it!

  2. Dear Valerie,

    I never thought that you would give me the look of death for taking out the garbage and recycling.

    I was wrong. I should have known better!


  3. Love your shop and the inspiration over at 45wall design! Gummed reinforced tape… I need some!

  4. That is amazing!

  5. Elizabeth Moll says

    The shoe rack with bulletin board trim = brilliant! In January, I usually set up a cafe in my preschool room for the kids; this year I have 11 girls, so I know it will be put to good use! Definitely using all your ideas here. Sock donuts? I love it!

    • That makes me SO happy, Elizabeth! Those kiddos are so lucky to have you for a teacher — have fun!! 😀

  6. I’ve loved that coffee shop since you pinned it on Pinterest. . .and I LOVE your cafe! Thank you for the inspiration AND the link to the reinforcement tape – I had no idea what that was, but I knew I needed it!

  7. Brilliant, Valerie!! It’s the perfect cafe for play!!

    • Thanks, Rebekah! The girls have enjoyed so much play time with it already, and are looking forward to hosting some play dates with friends soon!! I heard a request for menus too. lol

  8. OH MY GOODNESS. This is just spectacular. That food and that shelving and that cake stand…Do you know how much money I’ve spent at Pottery Barn, on Plan Toys and Melissa and Doug and FAO Schwarz food sets? DO YOU KNOW, VALERIE?????

    I don’t think it looks any better than what you’ve built.

    I’m gonna be sick.

    hahaha! This is just beautiful and brilliant!

  9. My 9 year old was thrilled with a packet of 5 different coloured masking tapes, paddle pop sticks and a new craft book for Christmas, and we all enjoyed the presents he made us!
    My 6 year old got a cash register, and as the 4 year old has a kitchen I think a play cafe may be a great holiday play centre here!

  10. This is awesome! The tape really makes it look so finished! My mother made my sister and I a play stove and two Barbie townhouses out out boxes when we were little. They were so fun and lasted a LONG time! I have made a few things for my children including a Barbie house from a small bookcase and doll clothes (you just can’t buy them as nice as you can make them!). I love the cakes and donuts you made too!!! They looks so yummy!

  11. I adore ALL of it, but the cake stand is the best! LOVE it!


  12. I have not left a comment in forever – First, I am so glad your blog is growing, your ideas are amazing as always. Second, I LOVE this idea!! So colorful and fun. Thanks

  13. I love it; great frugal fun idea!

    My daughter, Liza loves to play waitress using her toy cash register, oven, and food. I’m looking forward to sharing this with her.

    Thank you!

  14. I want to come play at your house, I mean, my son does!

    As always, your projects are so inspiring and so DO-able!

  15. That is amazing!!! You are amazing!

  16. Does that say free dessert?! I’d like to make reservations for two!

  17. It looks amazing, so simple and clever. Well done

  18. This is SO creative! I would have LOVED this when I was little. I loved playing “restaurant”, but I think I would have felt much more successful if I hadn’t tried using our real kitchen… unsuccessfully. I am saving this idea for the future for sure. So cute!

  19. This is jnrilliant. Need more space in the house but what a wonderful play area.

  20. Valerie! This is awesome! Eeeeeeek! Yes (chant with me), Cardboard Is Supreme! We should silkscreen a Tshirt with that on, and sell it to other Cardboarders, and with the money earned, buy more masking tape and hot glue sticks so we can keep going!


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