Step-by-Step Guide for How to Make a DIY Explosion Box

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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! 😉

Tutorial for how to make an explosion box gift
Give an exploding box card as a unique, cheap gift idea. | The Dating Divas
Step-by-step tutorial for creating a DIY explosion box.

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?

Make your own DIY explosion box gift. | The Dating Divas
Free printable exploding box card.

The explosion box is packed with all of your love and memories! Let’s make one!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. To learn more about ’em, click here

Exploding Picture Box Supplies

When making your own box card, you will need to grab the following supplies:

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.

DIY explosion box tutorial templates for creating your own DIY surprise box. | The Dating Divas
Printable templates for creating a DIY surprise box.

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.

Putting together a picture box gift. | The Dating Divas
Assembling your explosion box DIY project.

Do the same steps to attach layer 1 to layer 2. Make sure that they are centered nicely and fold the sides in again.

DIY Explosion Box Tutorial Step-By-Step. | The Dating Divas
Step-by-step guide for creating an explosion box DIY card.

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).

Folding step of a DIY picture box gift.  | The Dating Divas
Picture box creation DIY.

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.

How to make an explosion box card tutorial. | The Dating Divas
Colorful, DIY surprise box for a birthday or anniversary gift.

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.

DIY explosion box tutorial lid. | The Dating Divas
Gift Box Lid Tutorial

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.

DIY exploding box tutorial guide. | The Dating Divas
How to make a gift box lid.

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!

Explosion box DIY gift idea. | The Dating Divas
Explosion box DIY gift idea for him or for her.

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.

Interactive elements and printable decorations for creating your own DIY gift box. | The Dating Divas
Interactive elements and decorations for your DIY explosion box.

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!)

How to make a unique card that is cheap and includes a free printable. | The Dating Divas
Free printable card ideas for special occasions.

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.”

Unique, easy, cheap, cute DIY gift idea for birthday or anniversary. | The Dating Divas
Unique, affordable, free, cute, DIY gift idea.

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!).

Unique Explosion Box Gift Idea and Tutorial  | The Dating Divas
Love note in the form of a DIY surprise box.

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:


Free Download

Explosion Box Love Note Card

Printables Designed by Carisa @ Messes to Memories Exclusively for The Dating Divas


I met my husband, in a beginning ballroom dance class at the age of 15. He was my first crush, my first date, and twelve years (to the day) later we married. Together we enjoy traveling the world, and, of course, going on creative dates! I am a former theatre teacher who now stays at home with a spunky little boy. I love dancing, hosting parties, photography, organizing & chocolate!

Learn more about Sarina
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Recent Comments

  1. 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!

    1. Good question! When the box was all done – pictures trimmed to 2.5″ x 2.5″ fit nicely! I hope that helps!

  2. 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!

    1. 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.
      Good luck!

  3. 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.

    1. 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

  4. Really great idea, I’m thinking of making this for Father’s Day for my husband… hope I’m successful!

  5. What a fun idea! I am not a very crafty person, but I love to surprise my husband with fun things like this. It seems simple enough to figure out!

    1. Breezy, did you try it out? I hope you did and found it is definitely simple enough to figure out. 🙂

  6. I LOVE the update on this post! This was the first ever post that I found of the Divas 5 years ago!

  7. I fell in love with this idea! I am not really crafty but it seems I can do it! Thanks

  8. I love this project! I made the box and it turned out incredible! my only question is where how did you print out the photos so small? most places Ive been have the option as 4×6 as the smallest:(

  9. I’ve been looking for more ways to send creative letters. My husband is in basic training for the Army and I can’t send him anything in packages. This way he can get a box and feel all the love I put into it at the same time!

  10. By going by the instructions, how big is the flaps. I wanna print pictures, but I wanna make sure that I have the right size..

  11. Did this for my sweetheart on our anniversary and he ADORED the creativity and thought that was put into it!

    Such a great twist to your typical card.

  12. Hi, I’m interested in making these and was wondering if anyone could tell me where I could find the centre decorations e.g. on some there are little cakes in the centre of the box or flowers, I was just wondering if anyone knows where I can buy them as I wouldn’t be any good at making them myself.

    Kind regards


    1. Laura – I would love to help you find what you are looking for, but I need some more clarification on what it is you are referring to with “Centre decorations”. Are you referring to the pictures above or just in general?

  13. Thanks for posting this! I have been clueless about what to do for my guy this Valentine’s Day, but I think he’ll love this!

  14. This is so sweet! I am thinking I will do one for my husband for Christmas. Last year I did the 52 reasons why I love you and made it with the deck of cards. He loved it. I’m also thinking this might be a good gift for my mom, obviously expressing my gratitude for being an excellent mom and example of what a wife is. 🙂 Love this!

  15. I know this sounds bad, but I really need advice. I love these ideas, but my hubby states that he is needing me to express my love for him verbally. We are doing the long distance thing right now do some recent changes. Apparently I am good at expressing my love in letters, but he doesnt say how. But he states he needs to hear it more. What else can i say besides i love you and miss you. I tell him jow his voice brightens my days, but appaently he wants more…?? What are some of the things you write on these gifts?

    1. That is a great question! Everyone gives and receives love differently. According to one of my favorite books on marital communication, “The 5 Love Languages” it sounds like your husband prefers words of affirmation. The most important thing is that you are willing to speak his “language”
      One idea that may work in your relationship is a tradition that I call “I love you today because” Every night right before the last goodnight each person shares 1 reason why they love the other that day. Each person goes to bed feeling good & throughout the day you are thinking ahead about what you can share. When it is a night expectation/tradition – it is easy to incorporate in conversation.
      Specifically for this box – I tried to write the things that I appreciate most about my husband. Some of these included: taking care of me when I am sick, expressing his love for me, helping around the house, lifting my mood & working so hard to provide for our family. I also included quotes about love & marriage as well as lyrics from songs that are special to us.
      I hope that this helps! I strongly suggest checking out our review of the book:

  16. I LOVE this site………!!!!!! What a great idea….. I am going to use this for my husbands birthday that is coming up! LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you guys Keep up the GREAT work!

  17. I am Sarina’s husband and I just wanted to say how special this exploding love box made me feel. It was the perfect gift that remains true to its title of “Exploding Love Box.” Every time I think about, or see, this gift I can’t help but explode with love for my extraordinary wife. I love you so much Sarina and thanks once again for putting so much love and effort into our relationship.

  18. I love this! This is so cute and seems like a craft I could easily do, especially with all your detailed instructions. I am excited to try this for my hubbies birthday!!! xox <3

  19. Super cute, Sarina! Just in time for Jamie’s birthday! Gosh, I can use a LOT of stuff we are posting this week for his birthday! lol {It’s this Saturday!} Fab pics, too! xoxo