How to Make a Paper Gift Box

Making a Cardstock Paper Box for the Dolphin Magnets
Fair Winds and Following Seas– err, boxes!

Historically I’ve been bad about presentation when shipping things. Those who’ve ordered from me in the past know that my packing methods consist mainly paper towels and scrunched newspaper. So now I’m on a quest to make cheap boxes and upgrade my game a little! ๐Ÿ™‚

My first thought was just to grab for a paper mache box or a white box just goes against the grain. (And I really don’t have the space to store a bulk order, nor the sales volume. Although this one is really tempting. *sighs*)

So off to the drawing board!

Been There, Done That

Supplies for making a paper box
Gathering the materials (minus the glue)

My original idea was to find a way to make chipboard jewelry boxes (this is a great video tutorial) ((also this one)), but the supplies for those turned out to be more expensive than I’d thought. I can bulk buy them at $0.30 a pop, but I can’t make them for even close to that.

What my current art hoard does have is plenty of cardstock and most of the things I am planning on boxing are pretty light… so I figured I’d give that a try!

These boxes were pretty close to what I wanted, but I needed rectangles, not squares and I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of having to make a small army of creases that would show when the box was assembled.

Deconstructing a Cardboard Box
MOAR Cardboard! (What hoarding problem?)

So I started out trying to make a modified version of the small cardboard boxes I get the Maggie’s Monthly Micro Minis in.

Printer Paper Templates

Testing out the printer paper template
Building a Corgi Box

I knew it was going to take me several tries to figure out a proper pattern, so I started out with printer paper. It’s not going to hold up anywhere near as well, but it will give me a rough shape that I can tweak without feeling bad for wasting cardstock.

I started out by creating a rectangle that was a quarter-inch larger on all sides than the magnet. I’m using these boxes primarily to prevent damage to the magnet, so I want to keep them close to the same size. (Plus it will cut down on the amount of padding needed.)

Printer paper box attempt #1
Paper corgi boxes go, go, go!

Since the magnet isn’t very tall, I used the ruler itself to measure out the sides. It’s an inch tall and metal, so it makes a great straight-line bending tool when it comes to paper folding time!

The flaps that fold in to form the bottom of the box are longer than they need to be to touch, but I wanted that strengthening of the bottom. They’ll be hidden under the padding, so they don’t have to be picture-perfect. (Whew!)

I shouldn’t have to glue anything with this setup, but we’ll see…

Cardstock Templates

First attempt a cardstock box
Cardstock box, Take #1!

The first attempt at making a cardstock version was… almost successful. The template worked well and I was able to cut and fold the paper without having to make any actual marks on what would be the finished surfaces.

I ended up using a ball-pointed sculpting tool to trace the fold lines instead of the paper folder because that tool was too thick (and inaccurate) a point.

The assembled box did hold without glue (although I think they’ll be a little sturdier with it) and overall the box has a nice solidity to it. No worries about picking it up and having the magnet fall out!

Testing out the template Take 2
Revised cardstock template

But the box wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be yet. The corners look a lot messier in cardstock form than they did with the printer paper. I could just use some washi tape to cover them up, but I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible (for now).

Take two was almost the same pattern, but this time I decided to go for folding corner flaps instead of cut ones. So this time around I’ll be scoring the diagonal for folding instead of cutting the flaps.

Improvements in new version of the box
Box #2 vs. Box #1

The yellow template was a lot cleaner than the printer paper one (and will be much easier to use), but that’s the way of templates! ๐Ÿ™‚

The folding side flaps worked much better and while the box still holds it’s shape, I’m definitely going to be gluing these. I think it turned out to be a nice variation on the other patterns I found. It’s simple enough that it only takes me a few minutes to put a box together (using the template) and it looks much more professional than my normal paper towel mummification.

Simple box top template
Simple is best!

The top template is incredibly simple, but needs glue! The pain point here was finding out the perfect measurement so that it would fit over the bottom easily, but snugly. It needs to be just a smidge bigger than the bottom… and that took me quite a few tries because ‘a smidge’ isn’t anywhere on the ruler. (Doh!)

Your best bet for making a top is to trace the finished bottom as a template and then score just to the outside of the drawn lines.

I made the top of the box very shallow because I was going to tie it closed anyway. In theory, I could make a top roughly the same size as the bottom and the friction would keep things closed, but I don’t want to take that risk.

To keep things closed, I decided to go with a single inch-wide strip of cardstock. I glued the ends together under the box using rubber cement so it will come apart easily later. This way the customer can either slide the strap off the box or undo the ends.

The only problem I have now is that the box looks… plain. I really want to figure out a good (and cheap) way to dress these guys up! ๐Ÿ˜€

Finished off with a string knotwork
Embroidery Floss to the rescue!

I also have used embroidery floss to tie the box closed (all those years of friendship bracelets paid off! ๐Ÿ˜‰ ), but this makes it a lot harder to open.

Costs and Materials

So, to make a gift box I need cardstock, Elmers glue, rubber cement, and fiberfill.

While I have plenty of cardstock on hand (yay art hoards!) the per-page cost looks to be $17.99 per 250 ($0.07) or $4.99 per 50 ($0.09), depending on where I get it in the future. I need a little under two pages to make a box, so I’m going to round up to $0.20 for simplicities sake.

When it comes to the Elmer’s Glue ($1.50), Rubber Cement ($3.49), and Fiberfill ($8.97) it’s a lot harder to gauge how much was used. For right now I’m happy to go with $0.10 a box and we’ll see how often I have to repurchase them going forward. I use white glue and rubber cement on lots of other projects, so that may be harder to track than expected.

So my handmade boxes work out to about $0.30 a box… not too shabby! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now I just need to find ways to decorate them… *goes off to google rubber stamp DIY*

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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