Popup Holiday Matchboxes




Introduction: Popup Holiday Matchboxes

Decorated matchboxes like these are very popular in my wife's store. She glues interesting catalog and magazine pictures to matchboxes and adds some glitter. Simple, interesting and cool. I thought that adding a popup element could be interesting.

For this contest entry I did a Christmas tree and snowman, but other designs would be possible too. An ornament using foil or wrapping paper, a candle, maybe even a Santa going down a chimney when the matchbox is opened. I used paper from a magazine for the tree, and a thin foam from a window decoration for the snowman. 

There is a small amount of precision needed when laying out the pusher opening and determining the point to glue it to the popup, but it isn't too hard. 

If you like this instructable I'd appreciate your vote in the Handmade Holidays contest. Thanks.

Step 1: Glue Card Stock

The matchboxes I used were printed primarily with black ink so by gluing white card stock pieces the final appearance was better and more easily decorated. The white surface made it easier to draw layout lines as well.

Either cut to exact size before gluing or trim after glue sets.

Step 2: Lay Out Pusher Opening

The "pusher" leg needs an opening in the outer box to move through. Position 1/4 inch from the ends and 3/8 inch wide. Make sure to center carefully.

Step 3: Cut Pusher Opening

With a sharp craft knife and/or a small pair of scissors cut out the pusher opening.

Step 4: Lay Out and Cut Popup Shape

Layout your popup shape on a piece of card stock the size of the outer matchbox. Draw the shape carefully, allowing 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch above shape and below bend point. Cut a relief gap outside the shape. This helps the popup lay as flat as possible when the matchbox is closed.

Step 5: Lay Out, Cut, Bend and Glue Pusher

Lay out pusher piece on card stock with 1/4 inch wide legs. The top of the "T" will be bent into a shallow U-shape. The wide part of the U is the width of the inner box and the short legs of the U the depth. The pusher part of the T can be made longer than needed and cut to size later. The final length will need to be only approximately 1 1/8 inches long.

Bend the cut pusher piece as shown below. After bending glue the short legs of the U-section to the inner matchbox.

If all elements were properly centered the 1/4 inch pusher and 3/8 inch slot will work together perfectly.

If using decorative paper this is a good time to glue it to the matchbox. Be aware that when popped up all parts of the mechanism will be visible. Coloring with a marker or gluing more decorative paper to the top AND bottom of the pusher and popup will give a better appearance than plain white stock.

The bend in the pusher arm is made at a distance half that of the height of the popup, measured from the popup's bend point. The height of the tree and snowman was 1 1/4 inch so the length between the 2 bends of the pusher arm was 5/8 inch. Cut off the excess pusher arm material 1/4 inch from the bend point.

Step 6: Apply Decorative Paper

If using decorative paper apply to the popup shape before final assembly. Glue to the bottom and top of popup shape. Mark the vertical center point on the underside of the popup.

Step 7: Glue Pop Up Layer to Matchbox and Pusher

Before gluing the popup layer to the matchbox check the alignment of the pusher leg's outer bend point and the center of the popup.

Spread a moderate layer of glue evenly on the underside of the popup layer, but NOT on the popup section. Apply a small dot of glue to the short outermost leg of the pusher. Gluing the pusher to the popup is easiest with a thin pair of tweezers.

Position the popup layer on the matchbox and use the tweezers to clamp the pusher arm to the underside of the popup. Hold for a minute or 2 to ensure the glue is set. Make sure the other part of the popup layer is glued down securely and set the piece aside for 5 or 10 minutes. You'll be tempted to try out the popup mechanism, but wait until the glue is completely set or you'll probably have to glue it in place a second time.

Step 8: Finish Off Design With Embellishments, Glitter Glue, Etc.

When the glue is set and the pusher mechanism is working properly all that's left is decorating. Use glitter glue, tiny fake stones, sequins, beads, markers or anything else you can think up that compliments your design.

Don't forget the other side of the matchbox can be decorated too. Add a picture like my Lucky Strikes Santa or a personal message to the recipient (Don't smoke? Don't play with matches? Only you...) and you'll have a simple clever gift that will probably be kept even when the matches are used up.

Virtually any occasion can get the popup treatment: Heart for Valentine's, cake for a birthday, a rocket for 4th of July... use your imagination. I'd love to see variations on this theme.

I've entered this project in the Handmade Holidays contest. If you like it I'd greatly appreciate your vote. Thanks.

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Homemade Holidays Contest

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    3 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Adorable!!  This would also be great as a "classic" wedding favor with an obviously modified theme (i.e., something not about Christmas/Holidays).

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction


    I guess you could do a "cake" popup for a wedding favor, huh? The shapes have to tall (instead of wide) to make use of the opening of the matchbox.

    You could do bride boxes and groom boxes too. Those shapes would be tall/portrait rather than wide. Could be cool...