Confession: I keep the packaging from Pip's toys.
Before you are horrified, let me explain. I don't keep all of it. Don't think I have a closet full of shreds of cardboard or bits of plastic or anything like that. But when she is given a licensed item--think movie and TV characters--I am careful to neatly cut out and save the images from the outer shell of the gift that might otherwise be tossed into the recycling bin.
Here's why: licensed items cost way more than plain ones, and kids think they're fun. (Did you see my post about the Peanuts-inspired notebook?)
When Pip received an Inside Out blanket, I salvaged a group image from the front of the package and turned that could-have-been-lost artwork plus a spiral notebook we had here at the house into "new" school supplies for her.
First, I cut freehand around the characters the shape I wanted the image to have. There were words and things I didn't want on the final product, so I took that into consideration when deciding where to trim.
Next, I applied glue stick glue to the back of the image and affixed it to the front of the notebook so it would cover all the words on there, too. (You know, where it says "80 Pages Wide Rule" and all that.)
Finally, I put packing tape--of which we have plenty, due to our home-based business--over the entire front cover of the notebook, in straight rows starting at the bottom. I purposely cut it longer than the cover so I would have enough on each end to fold over and stick to the back for an extra sturdy finish.
It probably took you longer to read this than it will take you to decorate a unique notebook for your kiddos using objects you have around the house. Enjoy!