Creative Challenge: what can you do with an old phone book?

Now and then I come up with crazy little creative challenges for myself. (Yes, I’m bored and easily entertained.)  Today while rifling through the hall closet for something completely unrelated, I found three — yes, three! — old phone books.  I don’t know about you, but I haven’t used a phone book for its REAL purpose in probably a decade. If I need something I either ask around for recommendations or look it up online. Apparently the only purpose they serve for me is taking up space in my already teeny-tiny closet.

So, being the (bored and easily entertained) creative that I am, I thought “hey, what else could I do with these?”  Here’s what I came up with:

The Phone Book in its Entirety

  • Booster Seat – a tried and true solution. People have been propping their kids up at the dinner table with phone books for generations.
  • Bug Squisher – Drop one from on high and the little critter will never know what hit it. As a bonus, you can tear out a page to clean up the resulting splat.
  • Door Stop – Provided it’s not a really heavy door, this should do the trick. Be careful not to trip on it, though.
  • Umbrella Hat – Stuck in the rain? No problem. Just flop it open and stick it on your head. Voila!  Well, okay – it’s highly unlikely that you will get stuck in a downpour while carrying a phone book, but if in the event it happens you’re covered.

Phone Book Pages

  • Gift Wrap – Tear out a page for that impromptu gift. If you work it right, you can highlight the person’s very own name right there on the paper.  Downside is it only works for relatively small gifts. And it’s kinda see-through.
  • Bird Cage Liner – Sounds like a good idea, but I can’t actually test this one out to verify. I don’t own a bird.
  • Cat Toy – ball a page up and throw it on the floor for hours of crinkly feline fun.
  • Coaster – Fold up and place under drink. I’m testing this one out now, and it seems to be working okay so far. Although I predict that on a very humid day a soggy pile of mush would ensue.
  • Origami – meh, not so much. I’m not exactly an origami expert, but I think the paper is a bit too flimsy to really do it well. Also it’s not perfectly square, so there’s cutting involved before you can start folding.
  • Hat for the Cat – I did warn you that I was bored, didn’t I? As you can see, Jake was not amused.

Okay, so this creative challenge was largely a bust. I didn’t find any nifty new and useful things to do with a phone book, other than toss it into the recycling bin. But that’s the nature of creativity, isn’t it? It’s not about always coming up with “perfect” ideas. It’s about exploring and re-imagining things in the pursuit of a new idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

In the words of Thomas Edison, ” I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What creative challenges do you set for yourself? (And what do you do with your old phone books?)


Colleen Clifford

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