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What Should I Do with All My Child’s Art Work?

boy sitting on a table painting

Children are creative creatures. Hand them some paint, a brush, and a pad of paper, and suddenly you have several precious masterpieces piling up. We’ve got some ideas to keep on top of it all.

We know that everything your child creates is truly amazing (it’s the same for our children, too). It’s nearly impossible to save every single piece because otherwise your life becomes overrun with it—covering every available fridge space with their latest creations. You need to come up with a solid system to avoid drowning in their art.

Don’t feel like you need to pick just one idea here. You can do a hybrid, such as sticking a couple on the fridge, framing your favorites, sending some to the grandparents, tossing a few, and storing the rest.

The main thing you want to avoid is saving every piece and letting them collect dust in the attic. Instead, put those paintings to use, whether they become wall art, wrapping paper, or end up in a photo box (or go straight to the recycle bin).

Share with Relatives

Most grandparents would be thrilled to display some of their prodigy grandchild’s incredible creations, whether on their fridge or on a special bulletin board. Pick a few favorites from time to time and mail them out the old-fashioned snail-mail way, which is bound to brighten their day.

Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

When you think about it, regular wrapping paper is wasteful. We buy it, wrap something, and then send it straight to the trash (or to the recycling if we’re lucky).

Add a personal touch to your gifts by turning your child’s artwork into wrapping paper. You’ll save money and environmental resources in the process. Plus people will be touched to see personalized artwork at their fingertips, instead of some cheesy Hallmark print.

You can also get crafty, cutting up pieces into collages or making glittery gift cards.

Display It

mother hanging her daughter's artwork on the wall
Evgeny Atamanenko/Shutterstock

Obviously, the best pieces deserve to be framed. What’s best might change from year to year, or even month to month, so have a few frames ready and rotate what’s in them. Make sure to hang them where the world can see them, such as in the living room or kitchen.

You can also set up a dedicated bulletin board or a string with mini clips. This can be the first stop for every new creation. Then once a week, or monthly, you can remove the items, putting up a new display.

If you want extra color in your child’s room, use tape or mounting putty to stick them on the wall. Cover every inch of space if you want.

Create a Photo Book

This is a great way to preserve your favorite pieces, for years to come. By taking pictures, you’ll be able to cram a lot of pieces into a single photo book. Plus, it’ll make your child’s art seem more “real” by seeing it in a book.

You can also create countless fun products using your child’s art, such as pillows, puzzles, mugs, blankets, canvas prints, T-shirts—the list goes on. These make unique birthday and Christmas gifts for relatives, as well as fun mementos for your child’s work to live on forever.

Pack It Away

If you can’t decide what to do with each piece right now, then go ahead and toss them into a big box. Let it all pile up and set a date once a year to sort through it. Pick out your favorite ones (no more than five per year) to move into a “forever” box—which you’ll take down and cry over when your child leaves for college. Make sure to date the items in the forever box. Then toss out the rest—or move them to the craft box to be used for wrapping paper, collages, and gift cards.

Throw It Out

It might seem cruel to take your child’s creative work and toss it right into the recycle bin. But in the end, this teaches your child the importance of decluttering. And trust us, that’s a great skill to have in life.

Remember that being creative is about experiencing something in the moment—a flash of spark, an impulse to be and do and say whatever we feel. In the end, that artwork represents a moment well-lived. You don’t have to hold on to it forever because your child has already experienced that moment. It’s like keeping a photo to remember a wonderful memory. Some memories you’ll hold onto forever, whether or not you have the actual photo.

So don’t feel guilty about tossing it out. If it doesn’t seem to have a place on the wall or you have enough supplies for years of wrapping paper, then let it be one with the recycling.

Trying to figure out what to do with your child’s endless supply of artwork can be overwhelming. Keep in mind that whittling down the pile and displaying only a few items at a time makes the chosen pieces stand out more. Plus reusing artwork for gifts cuts down on the expense and resources of buying generic wrapping paper.

You can always discuss the options with your child, involving them in the process. In the end, it’s important to encourage them to keep on creating—because expressing themselves artistically is a wonderful thing.

Jill A. Chafin Jill A. Chafin
Jill A. Chafin is a freelance writer, aerialist, dancer, food enthusiast, outdoor adventurer, and mama, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Read Full Bio »
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