Thursday, 8 December 2011

Origami Style Gift Box Tutorial

I have many fond memories of elementary school art class. Our teacher (more about her here) was a skilled visual artist, and the projects she thought up for class were great for developing creativity. I remember making gift bags from magazine images, origami frogs that could jump, and my very first clay sculpture which was an ashtray with a cat's head, four paws and a tail sticking out (it was supposed to be a bowl, but didn't quite get there).

One of the most memorable and useful items we learned to make were origami boxes. I've made hundreds since art class, some as small as 1cm across (made from post-it notes). This is a great project to do with kids. Technically this isn't true origami because it requires cutting and not just folding, but we won't worry about that.

Your list of supplies:

- 2 sheets of paper, cardstock or thin cardboard
- Scissors
- Ruler
- Pencil
- Tape or glue (optional - the box will usually keep its shape without it)

Step 1 - Fold your paper diagonally and trim to make each sheet into a square. One square should be 1/4" to 1/2" smaller than the other. the thicker your paper, the more difference there needs to be.

The easiest way to do this is to draw a line with your ruler at the desired distance from the edge, and fold into a triangle along that line. In the picture, you can see that I folded one sheet all the way to the edge, while the other one only goes to the 1/4" line.

Step 2
- Once you unfold your paper, you will have a diagonal line across the middle. Fold diagonally the other way to create an X.

Step 3 - Fold two opposite points towards the centre. They should meet right in the middle of the X. Press your folds, and then fold these two sides towards the centre again so that the edges meet at the middle line. Press folds again, and then unfold. 

You should now have lines dividing your paper into 8 sections.

Step 4
- Press the other two points inwards in the same way you did the first time. Keep pressing your folds to get nice crisp lines.

Step 5 - You will now have a grid on your piece of paper. This is where you need to make a few cuts. Cut along the lines hilighted in blue. Each cut is 2 squares long.

Step 6 - The middle 4 squares are the top of your box, and we will now make the sides by folding in the points. Fold the big pieces on either side inwards so that the points meet in the middle. Tape or glue in place.

Step 7 - After the previous step, you have a flap that is 2 squares long on each side. Fold those to 90 degrees, and fold in the two sides that they're attached to until the flaps overlap. You can then tape each flap to its match on the other side to make the box shape (don't worry about being neat, the tape will be hidden).

Step 8 - Fold the remaining pieces on each side inwards so that the points meet in the middle. This will cover the two flaps you just taped together. Secure with a little piece of tape at the points. 

You now have the first part of your box! Repeat the same steps with your second sheet of paper so that you have a bottom and a lid that fit snugly into each other.

If you've gotten this far, you should now have the irresistible urge to make more little boxes. Go with it!

Try decorating the paper for your box cover with a random pattern before you fold it up (this works especially well if you have wee ones who want to help). You can also recycle soft drink cases into lovely boxes like the one in the picture at the top (12-packs only - the cardboard for cases of 24 is too thick to fold). 
I'd love to hear about your creations or see them on Flickr.


  1. these are so cool what a fun way to give gifts I'd love it if you would add them to my What We Wore and Made link party over at

  2. We totally made those suckers in grade four as well! Possibly the most useful thing we learnt.