How to Make an Explosion Box

Lead Image
  • 1-3 hours
  • Beginner
  • 10-30
What You'll Need
Cardstock (at least 5 pieces)
Photos and miscellaneous decorations

You've seen gift boxes before, and you probably weren't too impressed. It's never the box that anyone gets excited about—well, except for very young kids. But when you choose an explosion box instead of an ordinary gift box, then you've got a surprise wrapped around a surprise. An explosion box is a gift itself, highly decorated and fun from every single angle. If you've seen explosion boxes before, you probably thought they looked pretty intricate and complicated. Here's the secret—they're surprisingly simple to make.

Exploding With Fun

Open a regular box, and it's just a box with plain sides. An explosion box, however, is different. Explosion boxes split into individual panels, and each one is decorated. Often, explosion boxes are made with layers so that each one of the four sides of the boxes has multiple things to look at. And in the center, a small surprise awaits. It sounds and looks complicated, but just about anyone can do this simple, super fun DIY.

Step 1 - Assemble Your Materials

To make an explosion box, you don't need a box. You need thick cardstock. Choose a single color or multiple colors, depending on the design of the box you want. If you're creating something for an elegant affair, choose a basic color scheme like black and white. For a baby shower, get cardstock in shades of pastel. You need full-size sheets of cardstock, and you need at least one piece for each layer of your box. A good explosion box usually has three layers, so you want at least five pieces of cardstock to make a small box.

colorful gift box with decorations exploding out of it

Step 2 - Cut Your Box

There are lots of templates online that you can download and print out to serve as an easy guide. However, you don't have to have a template. An explosion box has a very simple shape. It's essentially a center square with four corresponding panels attached to each side of the square. Essentially, you're making a perfectly symmetrical plus sign (+) out of paper. The first layer (the first plus sign) should be the largest, with each panel at least four inches wide and long. Cut two more layers in exactly the same shape about 1/2 inch to one inch smaller than the first, largest, layer. When you stack the layers on top of each other, biggest to smallest, you can already see your explosion box taking shape.

Step 3 - Make the Outer Pane

The final panel at the bottom of the design will serve as the outer box that contains the explosion. This panel is a little different than the layers you made earlier. The center of this panel should be a square that's just a little bit bigger than the center square of your bottom layer. But instead of cutting a plus sign, you're making more of an X with this outer layer. Cut a "V" shape in the center top, center bottom, and the center of each side of the card stock.

The bottom of the V will end at your center square. You'll be left with four thick arms that radiate diagonally from that center square. Fold each arm right down the center, longways, to find the exact middle. Using this center line as a guide, cut a heart shape at the top of each arm. Place this layer at the bottom of your box design, lining up the center square so that the hearts spring out diagonally from the center.

Step 4 - Fold Your Box Layers

Make things easier on yourself and pre-fold your box layers. Every panel should be folded upwards from the center squares. The outer layer of the box with the heart-shaped arms will fold upwards toward you, not down toward your workspace.

Step 5 - Start Decorating

Once your box layers are all stacked together and folded, you can start having fun! Add pictures, sticks, glitter, buttons, feathers, or anything you want to each layer and each panel of the explosion box. Make sure to let all your glue dry before you begin assembling the box. After all, you want it to open and you want each panel to be viewable.

Step 6 - Place the Surprise

A small surprise is often at the center of the box. A little piece of jewelry, a sweet treat, or some other little item is perfect.

an unfolding silver gift box

Step 7 - Build the Box

All your folds have been made, so now just bring it all together. Pull up each side of the box along the folds to assemble the box. This will give you an idea of how large the top opening is. Measure this space, so you know how big your lid needs to be.

Step 8 - Make the Lid

Cut a last piece of cardstock to serve as the lid of the box. This lid must be the same size as the top of the box, plus 2 inches on all four sides. Cut a piece of cardstock to these dimensions. Make 2-inch folds on all four sizes of this square. After your folds are made, the corners where the folds cross each other will be visible. Cut out these corners and use your folds to create a lip all around the center square. Tape the corners together, and you've got a lid. Decorate the lid as you like and place it on top of your explosion box to hide the surprise inside.

Step 9 - Finishing Touch

Wrap a ribbon about the box and tie it with a bow at the top. When the ribbon is opened and the lid removed, the box will explode to reveal all your decorations and the fun surprise at the center. The design will make a huge impression on anyone who receives an explosion box, and you'll look like a DIY craft guru!