When a breakable item is shipped to your door, you get two gifts: The item inside, and the bubble wrap that protects it. No matter how old you get, popping those little bubbles is always a thrill. But leftover bubble wrap can do more than just entertain you for hours. Put its durable cushioning to use all around your home.
During winter, you might feel like you have two choices: Crank up the heat and deal with the huge utilities bill later, or shiver helplessly all season. Using bubble wrap as insulation on your windows is a cheap alternative. Cut sheets slightly larger than each window and use tape to seal the edges to the window frame. This solution will not only keep your rooms warmer, but give you some added privacy without sacrificing light.
Just as bubble wrap can be used as a barrier to cold air coming through your windows, it can also keep cold air in when necessary. Place used sheets inside grocery bags before loading them with cold or frozen food. Cover the food at the top of the bag, too. Just like that, you've got a DIY cooler bag that will help keep food cold during the trip home from the grocery store, or on the drive to a potluck.
Cushion a Sleeping Bag
Sleeping under the stars is one of those things that sounds great in theory.... until you realize that there are no mattresses in the woods. Lay down sheets of bubble wrap before spreading out your sleeping bag on top. The bubble wrap should provide some cushioning and keep any dampness from soaking into your bag. Just be prepared to hear some disconcerting popping noises every time you roll over.
Cushion Knees While Kneeling
There comes a time in every adult's life when you watch little kids race up a staircase on their knees and think: Ouch. Kneeling for long periods causes discomfort that can plague you for days. Keep sheets of bubble wrap on hand for just those times. When you're pulling weeds in the garden, dusting low shelves or painting baseboards, kneeling on the bubble wrap should provide some much-needed cushioning.
Help Clothes and Bags Keep Their Shape
You know how handbags, hats and coats always look so perfect in the store, but so slouchy in your own closet? Help those items keep their shape by filling them with bubble wrap when they're not in use. Stuff it inside tall boots to keep them standing up even when empty. You can even make your own padded hangers by wrapping bubble wrap around standard hangers, which will help keep the shoulders of your coats and shirts rounded between wearings.
Prop Up Decorative Displays
A decorative display on the middle of a kitchen or dining room table adds color and personality to the room. But the more items you use to fill the display, the more money you're going to have to spend. Instead of filling an entire bowl or vase with decorative items, stuff the container with bubble wrap and prop the decorations on top.
Make Sensory Projects
Playing with bubble wrap is one of those universal experiences that virtually every kid loves. Manipulating the stuff can be extra useful for kids who fidget and need a lot of sensory input. Use pieces to create sensory activities for young kids. Float pieces in a bucket of water or shaving cream that kids can dig their hands in, ask kids cut shapes out of it or let kids walk barefoot over bubble wrap taped to the ground.
Make a Countdown
It's hard enough to motivate yourself to do the things you've been meaning to do. Motivating kids to do things like brush their teeth and clean their bedrooms is even harder. One option? Use a marker to write numbers on individuals bubbles on a sheet of bubble wrap. Tell kids that each time they complete a certain task, they can pop one bubble – and when the last bubble is popped, they get a reward.
Make Roads and Train Tracks
Kids getting bored with their same old wooden train tracks? Cut bubble wrap into long strips, or cut a full track out of a large sheet of the stuff. As little ones drive their cars and trains over the track, they'll get the added thrill of making the occasional bubble pop. Alternately, lay out a large sheet of bubble wrap and use masking tape to create roads on top of it.
Make a Stress Relief Kit
Hey, life can be stressful — no one can judge you for occasionally wanting to squeeze something until it breaks. To prepare for those moments, make little stress relief kits to keep in your car, home and workplace. Keep a piece of bubble wrap, a stress ball, some snacks and something that smells comforting (like a cotton ball soaked in lavender essential oil) in each kit. The next time you feel like you're going to scream, pull out the kit and start popping bubbles instead.