Fold a Gift Box

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		 to enlarge imageNearly 4,000 years ago, Egyptians living along the Nile River used a water plant called papyrus to make sheets of a material they could use for writing. However, it wasn't until 100 B.C. that the Chinese invented something similar to the paper we know today.

Paper is made of cellulose, a material that's found in all plant cell walls, but most paper fibers in North America come from wood. Making nearly a third of all paper manufactured, the United States is the world's leading producer of paper. Americans also throw away a lot of paper. In fact, 40% of the space in our municipal landfills is taken up by paper and cardboard.

Fortunately, paper is easily recycled, but a better way to manage solid waste is to reuse materials. We'll learn how to use an old greeting card to make a small, gift box. Reusing cards is a great way to save money, energy, and landfill space. Also, since reuse helps save trees, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is decreased.

You Will Need:

How to:

Click to enlarge image Greeting cards are wonderful materials to use in making boxes. Made of cardstock, a heavy paper that's composed of many plies or layers, the cards are sturdy, and they often have beautiful designs on their covers. With a few simple folds, and a cut here and there, you can make just the right container for small gifts or treasures.
To begin, cut on the fold to separate the front of the card from the back. The front will become the box's cover or top. In order for the bottom (back of the card) to fit properly, the cardstock will need to be slightly smaller, so cut 1/8" from one end and 1/8" from one side of the card's back. If you use a paper cutter, have an adult do the cutting for you. Click to enlarge image Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image Click to enlarge image To make the lid, turn the front of the card face down. Place the ruler diagonally on opposite corners, and lightly draw a pencil line between them. Repeat for the other two corners, making an X figure. Fold one side up to the center of the X, crease, and unfold, as shown. Repeat this step for the other three sides.
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Click to enlargeClick to enlarge image On the short ends, mark the creases and cut as shown. Stand up the short side, and slide the tab behind the end of the box, and glue in place. Repeat for the other end. Fold the remaining part of the card down over the end, and glue. If necessary, use paper clips to hold the cardstock in place while the glue dries. 
To make the bottom of the box, repeat these steps using the back of the card. Draw the guidelines on the inside of the card or the side with the greeting printed on it. Fold the box bottom as before, and cut in the same way. To assemble the bottom, fold and glue as you did for the box top. To make the inside of the box neater, glue small rectangles of paper or felt over the inside of the box's top and bottom.  Click to enlarge imageClick to enlarge imageClick to enlarge imageClick to enlarge image
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Tips and Tricks:

A good source of free cards is a printing company. When greeting card sample books become outdated, they're thrown away, but people who work at printing companies or quick print shops usually are happy to give them to you. Also, ask friends and relatives to save their old greeting cards.

Visit to learn more about the American Forest and Paper Association site to learn more about paper, its history, and recycling. You can play games, make art, do science activities with paper, and learn some interesting facts about this valuable product.

© 2008 Marilyn J. Brackney (updated 2018)

Volume 21 No. 2

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