Introduction: Paperboard Nametag (with Pronouns!)

About: During the COVID-19 crisis, all of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship's religious services moved into an online-only format. I generally organize Sunday school activities for the children of the Fellowship …

Nametags are a really important element of the UU church experience. There are a lot of people in a congregation, so it can be really hard to keep track of people's names. Wearing nametags is a great way to get to know people. Putting pronouns on everyone's nametags is also important! That way, no one ever has to assume what someone's pronouns are.

The UUFC does provide nametags for its members, but they are made of disposable plastic and they're hard to decorate. This guide will teach you how to make a sturdy, customizable nametag holder that will also let you easily swap your name card in and out if your pronouns or your name changes. Names and pronouns evolve as people change and grow, so being able to communicate that important part of someone's identity is awesome!


-paperboard packaging (a box of crackers or a cereal box is a good size)


-Xacto blade (if you have one)


-yarn or other cord


-hole punch (if you have one)

Step 1: Cut Out the Pattern.

You can download the PDF pattern (or access it here). If you have a printer, just print that sucker out! Otherwise, you can trace it (carefully!) on your computer screen or tablet.

If your screen isn't big enough for tracing and you don't have a printer, the next few steps will walk you though how to freehand the shapes, since that's how I designed the pattern in the first place.

If you have a pattern all ready to go, though, flatten your paperboard box, and trace the pattern pieces onto it. Then you can skip straight to Step 8.

Step 2: Cut Out a Nametag-sized Rectangle.

Cut out a panel of your paperboard packaging. Using a straight edge of some kind, draw a rectangle. It doesn't need to be too exact! I think mine was about 2.5 inches on the shorter side and 4 inches on the longer. Cut it out.

Step 3: Trace the Rectangle Twice.

Lay flat the other side of your paperboard packaging. Trace your rectangle twice, one on top of the other.

Set the rectangle aside for now. You'll come back to it in Step 7.

Step 4: Sketch Out the Nametag Window.

Using your straightedge, sketch a smaller rectangle inside the top rectangle. It should look kind of like a TV! This will be a window you'll cut out later so that your nametag can be seen in the holder.

Step 5: Draw Two Fat L's.

Draw a thick L shape on either side of the top rectangle. These will be the side tabs that keep your holder together.

Step 6: Draw a Tab on Top.

Sketch a thin tab on the top of the top rectangle, like a little hat. This will be the top tab that folds down and keeps your nametag in place.

Step 7: Trim Your Nametag.

Grab the first rectangle that you set aside. Trim all around the edges just a little bit. This will make it easier to slip the nametag in and out of the holder.

(If you were able to use the pattern, you won't need to do this! The rectangle is already the right size.)

Step 8: Decorate!

Now you have the shape traced out! If you were able to use the pattern, you should have it all traced out, too.

Decorate the holder with your markers. I just decorated the frame, since that's mostly what people will see, but you could decorate it all over if you want!

On your nametag, you can write your name, and next to or under your name, your pronouns in parenthesis. My pronouns are she/her. Those are two separate kinds of pronouns! "She" is used as a replacement for my name. (Rachel ate a cookie. She ate a cookie.) "Her" is used to indicate when something is mine. (That's Rachel's cookie. That's her cookie.) "Her" is also used when someone is talking about me. (I saw Rachel eating a cookie. I saw her eating a cookie.)

"She" and "her" are often used together. Other common sets of pronouns include "he/him," "they/their," and "ze/zir". This website lists even more!

Step 9: Cut Out the Holder.

Cut all the way around the shape.

Then, cut out the center window. This is easiest to do with a grown-up's help using an Xacto blade, but you can also use scissors! Just be careful to not cut through any of the edges.

Step 10: Fold the Holder.

Fold up the bottom rectangle. You'll need to score the edge to make it stay. You can do that by rubbing the folded edge with the edge of your scissors. You'll want to press hard against the edge and drag the closed blades of the scissors along it like you're scraping it. This will make the fold crisper and more solid.

Do the same thing with all of the tabs.

Step 11: Make the Top Slit.

If you were able to print a pattern, that will show you where the top slit should go, but if not, here's how you can make it.

With the top tab folded down over the back of your holder, trace both edges of the tab with a pencil. You'll have two little angled lines. Put a straight edge halfway between the top of the holder and the end of the lines, and trace it.

If you have an Xacto blade, having a grown up cut the slit is the easiest way to make it, but you can also get a grownup or older sibling to carefully use the edge of one of your scissors blades to poke through the cardboard and cut the slit. You'll want to be careful to not tear it!

Step 12: Make the Bottom Slits.

If you were able to use the pattern, the slits on the bottom are marked, but if not here's how to determine where they go.

Trim the bottom of the L shaped tabs on both sides to taper them a little. You want your tabs to be a little narrower at the ends. (If you used the pattern, you won't need to do this.)

Fold the L tabs in and trace the ends on both sides. Mark lines about a half an inch away from the ends of the tab shapes. Have a grownup help you cut the slits, either with an Xacto blade or the sharp end of a scissors blade.

Step 13: Put the Nametag Together.

Slip the L tabs into the two bottom slits. Slide your nametag into the holder, name side facing the open window, and then tuck the top tab into the slit.

Step 14: Add a Hanger.

If you have a hole punch, you can use it to punch a hole on the top of each L flap. If you don't have a hole punch, get a grownup or older sibling to poke through the cardboard with one blade of the scissors. Tie one end of a piece of yarn to each hole.

Step 15: Wear Your Nametag!

Now you can wear it! When we can meet as a Fellowship in a physical space again, you could wear it then so everyone knows what your name and pronouns are. And if your name or your pronouns change, you can easily slide out the name card, make a new one, and slide it back in.