Quick & Easy Index Card Boxes




Introduction: Quick & Easy Index Card Boxes

Since I don't often buy art materials, making gift boxes simply becomes a chore in my attempts to hunt down paper (for my lack of cardstock or anything of the kind) that is strong enough to hold materials. However, one day when I was preparing for school, I had an epiphany about one of the most obvious things in the world--index cards are just small pieces of cardstock. Make a few cuts and add a few drops of glue, and we can be onto something big here.

Well, not really.

But these gift boxes did turn out very nicely, and they would be useful for any kind of little gifts such as candy bars on Halloween / Valentine (whichever you prefer--the grotesque or the grotesquely romantic), little presents to count down Christmas, gift cards, little toys for small kids, any small pieces of jewelry, or a brick of tofu...basically anything that is small enough to fit inside an box made out of an index card.

Of course, these boxes can be made from any tough paper besides index cards, but if I admit that then the title of this entire instructable kind of loses its meaning.

ANYWAY, on to our list of materials!

- 2 index cards (or 2 pieces of cardstock, construction paper...you name it)
- glue or double-sided tape (unless you prefer regular scotch tape, though it wouldn't look very neat)
- scissors
- ruler
- pencil
- decorations to put on box (optional, though it makes the box a lot more fun)

To be honest, the pencil and ruler are rather optional too, as all you need them for is to mark out where you will fold your paper. However, unless you're a saint at eyeballing measurements, I would recommend using a ruler and marking out lines with a pencil.

Step 1: Step 1: Sketch the Outlines of the Box

Do exactly as the step says. Sketch your box onto your index card. Since we are doing the top and bottom as two separate pieces, this can easily be done by measuring out the dimensions for the bottom of the box to your taste, making sure that the edges around the box you sketched out are even. Refer to the diagram if you are having trouble comprehending my somewhat confusing directions.

Be careful so that your box will actually fit onto your paper . If you are a math guru, you would know that the width of your box (y, in the diagram) + 2 * the height of your box (z, in the diagram) should not exceed the width of your paper, and the length of the box (x, in the diagram) + 2 * the height of your box should not exceed the length of the paper.

For those who are just too unwilling to think mathematically, you should still be able to get the directions fairly easily, though if not, try experimenting with different sketches until you find the one that gives you the dimensions you want.

Step 2: Step 2: Cut, Fold, and Glue

Now take your scissors and cut along any ONE side of the small squares that are in each corner of your sheet of paper. Looking at the diagram, the red indicates where I made my cuts for the Instructable, while the blue shows an alternative way of cutting. In reality, however, you can cut the flaps in any way you want, as long as you make sure that you do not cut the flaps off. Because...well, let's just say that it would pose a slight problem as to keeping the box...INTACT.

After making your 4 cuts, make valley folds along the remaining lines, so each section stands up.  Score the lines before trying to fold it if you are working with extremely tough paper or if you want precision and neatness. Personally I find that it's slightly unnecessary when you are simply working with soft index cards.

You should now see the shape of your box beginning to form. Apply tape or glue to the outside of the flap, and attach firmly to one of the walls of the box. I'm sure everyone can figure this step out by themselves, so I won't go into detail. Now you should have a completed box...or at least the bottom half of it.

Step 3: Step 3: Make the Lid

Every gift box has a lid to hide the surprise, right? So now--WE SHALL MAKE THE LID. Cue the dramatic music.

The steps to make the lid are exactly the same as the ones to make the box, except this time increase the length and width of the sketch of the bottom of the box by about 1/16 inch, or about 1.6 milimeters . After all, you want the lid to actually be able to fit over the box. However, do not increase the bottom dimensions by more than 2 mm, or the lid will be too large.

In order to fit this slightly larger rectangle on a sheet of index card that is the same size as the one that made the bottom half with the smaller rectangle, you must make the "walls" slightly shorter. Whether the walls should be short enough so that you can see part of the side of the bottom box is up to you (I personally think it looks more natural if you can see some of the bottom box from the side, peeking out from underneath the lid). Once you shortened the walls, it is highly likely that now you will have a thin strip of paper that is unused somewhere on the side of the note card. Trim this slip off so your walls will be of even height.

See diagram for a rough illustration.

An alternative to having to re-measure all the walls and box is to simply put the finished box in the center of your note card and trace. Remove the box and use a ruler to fix your rough sketches, moving out from your tracing for about half a milimeter to ensure that the lid is slightly larger on all sides. Then, simply add the lines for the walls around your rectangle. See the last diagram.

After you have the outlines, cut your lid out. Repeat the procedures for the bottom box--cut and glue. Now you should have a lid. Before you start decorating, put your lid and box together to make sure they are a perfect match. If the lid is too loose or too tight for the box, redo either the lid or the box.

PS: for those of you who were wondering, yes, I did do the lid of the box first (more of an accident than anything). It technically doesn't matter which you do first--the lid or the box, though I find making the box first to be more...natural.

Step 4: Step 4: Decorate

This is probably one of the easiest steps to comprehend.

Decorate! Cover it with ribons, bows, stickers, glitter, paintings, doodles... Whatever that tickles your pickles. Go crazy with it.

One word of advice, however. If you would like to use stamps to decorate the boxes, stamp the paper before you assemble it into a box, because it's just easier to get a good print when the paper lies flat than when it is in box form. The same goes for painting and drawing, though I find that as long as you're not trying to create a masterpiece on that little piece of rectangle on the lid, you should be fine with drawing it directly onto the box.

- Add a tag. Everyone likes personalized tags. Just glue it on under a bow, thread it through a punched hole on the side with a ribbon, or even add it directly onto the box.
- Add a "loop". I have a picture of what I call the "loop" (not the restaraunt. Sorry guys) in the picture below, on the orange box. Basically it is just a long strip of paper creased and glued so that it can be looped around the box, in case what is in the box will weigh the bottom down so much that it would just drop when someone is holding it by the lid. Of course, you can also remedy this problem by wrapping ribbon around both the lid and box, or simply adding another layer of wrapping paper outside the little box.

Decorations from my other Instructables...
The Origami Rose on bluish-greenish box
The Paper Bows -- COMING SOON!

Step 5: Variation: Mini-cubes

To say that this is a variation of the box is a little too much. However, these little guys are a heck lot smaller and a lot cuter (at least that's what I thought, anyway). The basic directions for these small buddies are the same for regular boxes, though it may be easier to cut the paper differently.

In order to cut the flaps on these tiny cubes (mine were 1 in * 1 in * 1 in, since I used a regular 5 * 3 card; this wouldn't really matter as much on large cubes), I rotated the paper each time I made the cut, so the cuts ended up in a sort of spiral around the page (see diagram; red marks my cut lines). This way each time I glue a flap down, the flap ends up attached onto a different wall of the cube, so no two sides are outrageously thick. By the end, each wall of the cube should be double layered -- one is the original wall, the other the flap that was attached to it.

It's a personal preference to do small cubes this way, though it is fine to do it the previously mentioned way also.

The steps to make the lid are the same as for regular boxes--slightly larger base, shorter sides. Cut, glue, decorate.

I hope this has helped! Have fun making boxes! (Wow...is it just me, or did I completely make it sound like every one of us here has nothing better to do with our lives than to churn out index card boxes?)

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    7 Discussions


    4 years ago

    This is not cool what are you guys saying this is amazing good job bro


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Would sure like to see more of your work! Maybe you have some great ideas for Christmas! Sunshiine


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is incredible!
    Totally perfect. I no longer have to buy little gift boxes for jewelry!
    Thanks so much! :D