Introduction: Origami Gift Box
This instructable will teach you how to make a small origami box out of normal 8 1/2 x 11 inch printer paper. All you need is the paper and some scissors.
If you have a paper cutter, it can ensure that your cuts are straight. You may also already have some square origami paper with printed designs on it; if so, you can skip the paper prep part, and get straight to folding!
If you use printer paper, you have the option of printing out your own pictures or designs for the box. You could also use crayons or colored pencils and draw on the paper before you start folding. This gives you a fun way to personalize the box if you're using it to give a small gift, like a gift card.
Step 1: Preparing the Paper
About paper size
You can use any type of paper, but this particular design requires that you start with a square shape. If you're cutting your own paper, try to cut as straight as you can. Don't worry too much, though; a little imperfection can still make a box, and it will add character!
To make normal sheets of paper into a square, fold one corner over past the opposite corner, lining up one side with the other. There should be a rectangular bit hanging over the edge. The folded over triangle shape is what you'll keep; cut off the extra rectangle.
Or, place one sheet of paper on top of the other (as seen in the picture) and trace a line down the excess portion. When you cut that off, you'll have your square.
Designs on the paper
The images here show an outline of where your folds will be on the square of paper. The appeal of creating your own square paper from some blank sheets is that you can draw your own designs on them to personalize the end result.
You can save the image of a paper with fold-lines and then print it out both to help practice folding and to get an idea of where your drawings will be on the finished box.
Step 2: Folding Time!
When making a crease, use your fingernail or some hard, smooth edge (like a ruler) to press along the length of the fold and make it crisp.
There are several types of folds in origami. This instructable refers to each fold and crease you'll make as a uniquely numbered fold, but I group several together at each step. The pictures here show an example of a piece of paper being folded in each of these 3 ways:
Fold the paper in half down the middle, crease, and open it back up. By lining up the edges before creasing, you can make sure the paper is folded nearly exactly in half.
Fold a corner of the paper towards the middle. The corner should be placed as close to the center as possible. By doing book folds before corner folds, there will be crease lines that act as a guide for where to fold the corners.
Fold the left and right sides of the square in towards the middle; the left and right edges should meet at the midpoint of the square, so that you've created "wings" that are 1/4 the width of the square.
Step 3: Folds 1 & 2: Book Folds
With the side of your paper with the outside image facing up, make 2 book folds. After opening the square back up, the creases should divide the large square into 4 smaller squares.
Step 4: Folds 3-6: Corner Folds
Flip the paper so that the image is facing down, and make 4 corner folds. The creases from the previous book folds should provide a target for where to place the tip of a corner. The edges of your corner fold should line up with the vertical and horizontal creases of the previous book folds. Try to be as close as you can, so that you end up with a diamond shape with symmetric, pointy tips. (Over-folding can make this shape look a bit lopsided.)
Step 5: Folds 7-10: Cupboard Folds
Keep the paper with the center of your image facing down and the corner folds on top. Make 2 cupboard folds in both directions (much like the earlier book folds). The edge of your paper during a cupboard fold should meet with the center where the tips of the previous corner folds are. If the tips of the corner folds pop up after opening the cupboard folds, press them back down; they don't have to be perfectly flush.
Step 6: Folding the Walls
Open up two of the corner folds from opposite sides of the paper. Fold up the remaining two sides (where you should still be able to see some of the design on the paper) to start making the walls of your box. They should make a 90 degree angle with your paper; it's starting to become 3D!
As you lift up one of the opened corner fold tabs to make the third wall, press inward on the sides. (One of these pictures is of a white paper, where it's easier to see the place that's folding inward.) The corner fold is going to fold over these inward pointing bits in order to form the wall. Fold the tab up so that it's also at 90 degrees with the paper, with the opened corner pointing up. Then bend that tab over so that it forms the inside wall of your box, with the tip of the corner fold meeting at the center of the inside floor.
Lift the second opened corner fold tab and fold it over in the same way. The four corners should meet at the center of the floor of your box. If you started with a square paper and folded well, these tabs should actually hold each other in place because of how close together they are. (Don't feel bad at all if they don't quite stay put. You can fix that by adding a piece of tape underneath them, if you need to.)
Step 7: Making a Lid
Folds 1 through 6 (the book and corner folds) are the same when it comes to making a lid for the box. However, when you get to the cupboard folding steps, you should fold the sides a tiny bit short of the center (as seen in the above pictures). This will result in the lid being a little bit bigger than the bottom, so the two can actually fit together.
The exact gap is up to you, depending on how tightly you want the box to close. If you cut your own paper, adding a little extra room can help make up for some slightly sloppy folding. As you get better at making crisp folds, and if you start with professionally cut paper, you can get super precise with the distance and make a well-fitted lid. Adding a piece of string tied around the box as a bow can help keep the lid on, if you're worried about leaving too big a gap and having a lid that's too loose fitting.
Step 8: Fancy Box Tips:
To keep the tabs that make the inside floor of the box from popping up, you can temporarily lift them and put a piece of tape on the underside.
To make the base of the box a little bit more sturdy, you can cut a piece of cardboard and place it underneath the four tabs that form the inside floor of the box. If you're using tape to keep the floor firmly down, place that tape on this piece of cardboard. Any scrap of cardboard will do; I just cut a square off an empty box of crackers.
Once you've put a little gift inside the box, you can use a piece of string to wrap around the whole thing to keep the bottom and lid together. If you're giving a gift card and the paper used to make your box results in a space that's too small for it to lie down, you can place the gift card in the box standing up, from corner to corner. This can add some support to the structure of the box (in case it's going to be tossed in among other things as a stocking stuffer), and after you use a fancy piece of ribbon to tie the lid together with a bow, it can make the box appear less flat.
Step 9: Congratulations!
You've made a box!
This particular design is sometimes called a masu box. It's possible to start with a piece of paper that isn't square, and the resulting box will be bigger. It's also possible to make more interestingly shaped boxes. However, this simple start should help you feel that origami is something you can actually do. Don't be intimidated if images of fancy things make it appear that origami takes great skill just to get started! As you practice making this box, you'll get better at making folds. Then you can look up other designs and make flowers, swans, and all sorts of fun little things.