What is an Explosion Box?
An exploding picture box is a way of taking a typical, boring card to the next level! Basically, a DIY explosion box is a gift in and of itself! How fun, right? The gift is a little box that when the lid is removed, the box sides “explode” out with over twenty sides to cover in creative ways. Think pictures, doodles, sweet love notes, and even stickers!
The good news? We have made creating your own DIY exploding box super easy with step-by-step instructions, ideas, and even templates! Don’t spend a dime and instead use our FREE printable exploding box template to make your own picture box! We PROMISE it is easier than it looks, and the receiver will LOVE it!
DIY Exploding Box Step-By-Step Tutorial
Ready to make something meaningful, but also quick and easy? This DIY surprise box looks complicated, but it is easy as can be! With our free templates, and the fact that you don’t even have to buy fancy paper or measure anything, you’ll have an adorable explosion box in no time! Just print, cut, glue, and personalize! We have made it super easy for you to make these exploding cards! You’re welcome! 😉
By the way, this explosion box gift idea is so easy to whip up, you’ll be glad you saved the money and made it by hand. Certainly, there are many options for buying an exploding box, but why waste the money when handmade gifts are more personalized and more special?
The explosion box is packed with all of your love and memories! Let’s make one!
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Exploding Picture Box Supplies
When making your own box card, you will need to grab the following supplies:
- PDF for explosion box printable template (free download at the bottom of this post!) OR 4 12X12 sheets of card stock
- Adhesive: wet glue or double-sided tape
- 4 paperclips (optional)
- Anything else that you want to decorate the box with. Pictures, colored paper, favorite quotes, stickers, etc.
How to Make an Exploding Picture Box
Exploding cards are cheap, cute, clever, and much more meaningful than a regular card. In a single box card, you have created a meaningful gift that can be kept forever! So, let’s get to it! Here’s exactly how to make an explosion box.
Step 1: Print the Templates
Download and print the free PDF printables from the link at the bottom of this page. Your explosion box templates will include three slightly different sized layers, a lid, and an outside layer. All of these pages are pre-measured and labeled so all you need to do is print and cut them out.
Step 2: Fold Your Explosion Box
Carefully fold each of the square edges of the box card template. We made it super easy for you to see where to fold by changing up the color for each square. You can use a ruler to make your lines crisp and straight. Keeping everything as straight as possible will be very important in this project.
Step 3: Glue the Layers Together
Now, you need to put all of your layer pieces together. Start with layer 3 on the very bottom and position layer 2 so that it is nestled on top of layer 3. Use adhesive to glue the backside of the center white square of layer 2 to the front side of the center white square of layer 3.
Do the same steps to attach layer 1 to layer 2. Make sure that they are centered nicely and fold the sides in again.
Step 4: Assemble the Outer Shell of the Box
In order to have your explosion gift box be colorful on the outside as well as the inside, we have one more layer for you. Apply adhesive to the entire backside of the outside layer and carefully press the outside layer onto the backside of the most bottom layer of your box (layer 3).
This will give layer 3 a two-sided look and give your box a fun pattern (even when it is closed.) ***Important note: If you are using your own paper and it has color on both sides, you can skip this step.
Step 5: Make Your Explosion Gift Box Lid
Finally, you will want to make the lid to be able to close your box. Go ahead and fold along all of the lines distinguished by a new color/pattern. Then, apply adhesive to each of the pink squares.
Now for the trickiest part of all. Take a pink corner square and pinch it so that the patterned sides come together and the adhesive presses the two pink sides together. This will convert the pink square into a small triangle on the inside of the box. Secure with a paper clip until the adhesive dries and repeat with the three remaining pink corner squares.
Now, fold the sides of your exploding box toward the center and place your lid on top to hold it all in. When that lid is removed it should all explode out!
Step 6: Personalize Your Explosion Box
Now it is time to personalize your explosion box card! This is what I love most about this card. This isn’t a card from the store that has one distinct place to write a message. This unique love note has twenty different flaps that you can customize with special pictures, mementos, or personal messages from you – whatever YOU want to make it special.
To really give your project that extra special touch, we have created several interactive elements and printable decorations for you that you can add to the flaps of your love note. The sweet phrases and images are easy to add and will give your DIY surprise gift box a finished, cohesive look (printable linked below!)
Extra Exploding Gift Box Ideas
I just love the uniqueness of this gift / card, but also all of the options. The possibilities for what you could do with this box are endless! You could make an explosion box card for just about any special occasion: birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day—you name it! You could even do this “just because” as a way to say “I love you.”
For the record, the possibilities are endless for what you can add to the sides of your explosion box. The first exploding box card that I ever made, I wrote something I loved about my spouse on about half of the flaps and the other flaps I placed pictures of us together. This time, I tried to write things I love about him as well as favorite memories that we have shared together (to coordinate with the pictures!).
We hope you enjoyed making your DIY explosion box! See, it wasn’t so bad, was it? 🙂
Now that you have made your own explosion box, let’s find you more great ideas. If you are on the hunt for more simple, creative ideas for showing someone love, check out our:
- Candy Bar Bouquet
- Romantic Crossword Puzzles
- Reason I Love You Jar
- Personalized Love Story
- Make Your Own Love Coupons
- How to Fold a Dollar into a Heart
- Cute Candy Sayings
- Love Letter to My Husband
- Gift Ideas
- Easy Romance Ideas
Wow! Thank you so much for such a well-thought out project!
You take so much time and energy to create such fun and unique activities and products for us – you guys are truly a blessing – thanks again for all you do!
You are so welcome!! Hope you enjoy 🙂
How did you size the pictures for the exploding box?
Good question! When the box was all done – pictures trimmed to 2.5″ x 2.5″ fit nicely! I hope that helps!
Hi Sarina, I love this idea! But can I know the measurements for each layer if I am using 12×12 cardstock and not printing the pdf? Thanks!
That is a tricky question that requires some math above my level. What I can tell you is that the original pdf has these dimensions:
These are perfect shaped squares with these original sizes on an 8.5 x 11 page:
Design #1 (Outer Layer) the squares are all 3”
Design #2 (Middle Layer) the squares are all 2 ⅞”
Design #3 (Inside Layer) the squares are all 2 ¾”
I assume you would just increase each of the layers but keep the ratios similar.
I absolutely love this! My husband is an over the road heavy hauler and he’s finally coming off the road after like 12 years of doing it and being gone all the time. We are super excited for him to have a local job & be home with us every night. I’ve aways wanted to make one of these. I thought it would be a great idea to make this for his first day of work and maybe leave some fun notes of encouragement and such. Such a wonderful idea! I love this.
Jessica, I am so happy for you that he will be home! Yay! These are really fun and I hope you try it out! XO
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