Learn to make an explosion box gift for the holidays with this detailed step-by-step tutorial and free SVGs
This explosion box has three layers, with pockets for photo ornaments and petal envelopes for photos or little gifts!
The Holiday Explosion Gift box is sure to delight anyone who gets it!
There are lots of steps to make the explosion box, but I’ll walk you through each step with lots of details. It’s easy to customize this explosion box gift for any occasion by just changing the card stock colors.
This free project is part of the Holiday Showcase! On November 15th, links to all of the projects here will be added.
💜 Click here for a comprehensive list
of materials and supplies needed
to make an amazing explosion box. 💜
Materials need to make the Holiday Explosion Box Gift
- The free SVG file downloaded from the Free Files Folder; it’s design # 59 – the Holiday Explosion Box.
- Bone Folder (I bought this one at my local crafting store)
- Glue – such as Art Glitter Glue or Beacon’s 3-in-1 Craft Glue
- Spray Glue, such as Elmer’s Multi-Purpose Spray Adhesive
- Lightweight paper for the base (12×12 or A3 size, copy weight) – this scrapbook paper is perfect (also available at Walmart!)
- Multiple colored scrapbooking paper or cardstock, such as Recollections 65 lb. cardstock
- White or Silver glitter card stock for the snowflakes
- Posterboard for ornaments (heavy cardstock will also work)
- Baker’s twine or other string/ribbon – for the ornament hangers
- Brayer (I have the Speedball soft rubber brayer; it’s metal and rubber so very sturdy and comfortable to hold)
- Photo paper (Glossy) or print out at Social Print Studio
- Laminator (to seal your photos and make them last longer)
- Gold glitter cardstock (for the stars on the mini-Christmas trees)
- Red glitter HTV (just a small amount for the mini-Christmas tree decorations)
- Cricut EasyPress Mini
- Cricut Maker or Maker 3 (if you are using the Explore, just score instead of perforate)
- Cricut Scoring tip
- Cricut Perforation blade
* Links to products are for your convenience in finding tools and materials, however, they are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. *
✅ Step 1 – Before you start cutting:
Choose your theme or papers.
This is going to be a Winter-theme/Holiday Explosion Box, so I’m using all different types of blue and white papers. It makes it much easier to coordinate colors when you have a set of paper to choose from.
Otherwise, you might be spending a lot of time thumbing through your entire paper collection (or perhaps that’s only me…)
Heavy cardstock (such as scrapbooking paper or paper that’s 200-300 gsm) works well for the sides, lids, pockets, and petal envelopes.
I like to use poster board for the ornaments because it’s sturdy and cheap! Cardstock works well too.
For the box bases, use light paper. It should feel almost like copy paper. It folds easily, and falls down easily as well, which is one of the tricks to make your box really explode.
✅ Step 2 – Prepare the base and lid layers for cutting in Cricut Design Space
Download the free SVG file from the Free Files Folder. It’s design #59 – the Holiday Explosion Box. Double-click to unzip the file. There are five separate SVG files inside.
Upload the file “1-base_lids_sides_exp_box_minorDIY_SVG” to Cricut Design Space.
(Click here if you need to see step-by-step instructions for how to upload an SVG to Design Space.)
Insert the SVG file on the canvas and Ungroup.
Change certain cut lines into score lines. The cut lines that look like outlined squares are the layers that need to be changed to Score.
Click on the layer you want to change to highlight it. (Select multiple layers at once by holding down the shift key as you click.)
Click on the Operation menu on the top left of the screen, then choose Score from the drop-down menu.
Next, Attach each score line to the shape below it.
Highlight both the Score layer and the Basic Cut layers, then click on the Attach button in the bottom right corner.
All three base layers and three lids should have score lines attached to the piece.
The rounded squares are decorative side pieces. There are two layers because I like the way that patterned paper looks when it’s over a solid color (as shown by the black squares.) You can only cut one side piece if you prefer.
✨ Tips for cutting paper: ✨
- Use a blue (LightGrip) mat. It shouldn’t be brand-new and very sticky, or the light paper will tear when you try to remove it.
- Make sure the mat is free from bits of debris, such as glitter or tiny bits of paper from a previous project. (Use a baby wipe to clean it, if needed.)
- Use a brayer to attach the paper to the mat well. (I really like this Speedball brayer. I used to just pat the paper down with my hand, but there is a significant difference when you use a brayer.)
- After the cut is finished, check to be sure it cut all the way through before you unload the mat. If some of the design is not coming away easily, just press the triangle button to repeat the cut. It will cut precisely on the same lines again.
- Always use the Cricut scraper to gently separate the paper from the mat. Put the mat upsidedown on your table, and peel the mat away from the paper. Hold the paper on the table if needed. Your paper won’t curl if you use this method.
✅ Step 3 – Cut and Assemble the Base, Lids, and Sides
Score and cut the three base pieces, as shown below. Use light, 11×17 inch (or A3) size paper. Thin scrapbook paper would also work.
Use a bone folder to score the lines. Fold them one way, press, then fold the opposite way and press again.
Repeat this several times on each fold. The paper should be getting weaker on the fold lines. This will help the box to fall open nicely.
Fold and score the corners several times too.
Next, cut out the pieces for the outside side pieces and the lids. Use heavier paper, such as scrapbooking paper or card stock.
The black squares pictured below are cut from poster board.
Crease the sides of the lids in.
Put a drop of glue on each tab.
Align the edges of the tab and lid, and hold it in place with a clothespin. This way, you can continue gluing without having to wait for the lid to dry.
Glue the sides into place on the bases.
Here is the base of our explosion box. These are the outside of the three base layers, with the side decoration and lids.
✅ Step 4 – Add the Corner Snowflakes
- Group everything from the previous steps together in Design Space, then hide that group by clicking the eye icon next to it. This way, you still have everything on the canvas if you need it again, but it’s hidden out of the way.
Upload the “2-snowflakes_SVG_minorDIY” file.
Insert it on the canvas. Ungroup.
On the white snowflake, change the line to Perforate.
Do the same for the shadow.
Attach the Perforate layers to the Basic Cut snowflake layers.
Select the snowflake and shadow, and duplicate it three times. You should have four snowflakes and shadows with perforation lines.
These will go in the four corners of the base piece.
Cut out the snowflakes and shadows. I found 10 sheets of white glitter paper at Walmart for $4.88, so that’s what I’m cutting my snowflakes out of.
I’m using Recollections 65 lb. cardstock for the shadows. Having the black shadows behind the white glitter snowflakes really makes them pop.
After everything is cut, fold the black shadows in half on the perforation lines.
Now, glue them in each corner. Fold the corners of the paper base up while you are gluing, to ensure it can still fold up correctly.
Then unfold the corner, so the snowflakes slips a little. The glue should dry while it is mostly folded. The bottom of the shadow probably will not be flat on the paper.
Next, fold the glitter snowflakes in half on the perforation line.
Use a spray adhesive to coat the back of the snowflakes, then glue them to the paper.
Use the same folding technique as you attach them in the corners.
Glue the other snowflakes on to the other corners, using the same method.
✅ Step 5 -Additional Snowflake Decoration
I am going to put two snowflakes on the outside of each box, so I resized and duplicated a few of the other snowflakes. (This step is totally optional! I found that too many glitter snowflakes caused the paper to stick together and not fall down nicely when the box is opened.)
The snowflakes cut well from the glitter cardstock, but I could have also used HTV.
Yes, you can use HTV on cardstock! It’s especially helpful to use this method when you have small, fine designs. I’ll show you how later in this explosion box gift tutorial.
Here’s what the outside of the holiday explosion gift box layers look like at the end of this step.
✅ Step 6 – Make the ornament pockets in the holiday explosion box
Add to the Canvas, then UnGroup it.
Change the three cut lines to Score, as shown below.
Now, Attach those Score lines to the layer below it.
Next, Duplicate each pocket as many times as you need.
Both the round and square ornaments fit into the pocket. You could also tuck in photos, notes, or even cash!
Cut out the pieces.
Score each fold line using a bone folder.
Glue each pocket to the sides of the correct layer.
Make sure that the bottom tab is glued to the side closest to the center of the box, as shown below. This is so that when the sides are folded up, the ornaments won’t fall out of the pocket.
✅ Step 7 – Make the photo ornaments for the explosion box
The red squares and circles indicate the photos in the ornaments. You can also use the red shapes to cut your photos to exactly the correct size.
I print out photos on my Epson Expression Photo HD XP-15000 Wide Format Printer on glossy photo paper. (I highly recommend this printer! It prints large images, up to A3 or 11 x17 inches in size.)
Then, the photos are laminated so that the ink will never smear.
Laminating your photos has a few benefits.
- If an inkjet print gets damp, the photo will be ruined.
- If glue gets on them while making the ornaments, it just wipes off.
- The photos will last much longer when laminated.
You can also have photos printed online and mailed to you.
I especially like Social Print Studio, because your photos can be printed in small sizes in a variety of different formats.
The photos shown below are all from Social Print Studio.
Next, cut out the ornament shapes. Glue the photo to the solid back piece, then glue the frame over it.
Add a hanger and your ornaments are ready to be tucked into the pockets in the holiday explosion box.
✅ Step 8 – Cut and assemble the petal envelopes
Upload the “4-petal_envelopes_SVG_minorDIY.svg” file to Cricut Design Space. Ungroup.
Change the square lines to Score. Then Attach each Score line to the shape below it.
Next, select everything and Duplicate it (if you are making two petal envelopes per layer.)
I cut all of the envelopes and half-circles from the same scrapbook papers.
Use the bone folder to crease along the score lines, so that the petals all are closed.
Glue each half-circle to the petals of each envelope.
Fold each petal in, on top of the previous petal; then, tuck the final petal in underneath the first petal.
Glue each envelope in place on the base.
After the glue is dry, open each envelope and glue the photo in, making sure the photo is facing the direction you want it to.
I prefer to have each photo facing the outside of the box, so the top photo in the example below needs to be “upside down” right now.
Tip: Don’t close the envelopes up until the glue is dry. If a bit of glue seeps out from underneath the photo, you might accidentally glue the envelope shut.
✅ Step 9 – Optional Extra Snowflake decorations (or other icons)
The blue photo pockets look too plain, so I’m going to add a glitter snowflake to each one.
Glitter white HTV (heat transfer vinyl) is what I’m using for this.
Yes, you can use HTV on cardstock!
It’s especially helpful when you have small, fine designs, like the small part of the snowflake here. It’s hard to weed the small bits out; cardstock would probably rip when it was being cut out.
After you weed the design, place the HTV (with the clear plastic sheet side up), on top of the cardstock.
Place a sheet of parchment paper over the HTV. Use the Cricut Mini-Press to adhere the HTV to the cardstock.
Then, glue the cardstock in place.
It’s almost done!
✅ Step 10 – Add the secret to make an explosion box “explode”
The base layers have a lot of paper between them.
If we glue them together at this point, the sides will always be kind of sticking up.
To help the sides fall down more easily, glue a small square of corrugated cardboard under the middle and smallest layers.
You can either cut this small piece by hand, or use the “cardboard-boosters.svg” file included in the download.
Learn to cut corragated cardboard with your Cricut in this tutorial.
After gluing the cardboard risers in place, glue the second layer on top of the first.
Then, glue the smallest layer in place.
✅ Step 11 – Making the Centerpiece
Upload the “5-mini_christmas_trees_SVG_minorDIY.svg” file to Cricut Design Space. Ungroup it.
Change the cut lines on the trees to Score. Attach those lines to the tree piece below it.
Attach all of the red balls together. (If you don’t attach these, Design Space will cut each ball right next to each other, in one long line. You don’t want to have to place each ball individually.)
Cut the stars from gold glitter cardstock. Use green cardstock for the trees.
Cut the Christmas ornaments from red glitter HTV.
Weed the HTV, and then use the Cricut Mini-Press to attach the red ornaments to the green Christmas trees.
Fold the tabs at the score line, so that they face away from each other. (The tabs are the supports that hold the trees in a standing position.)
Glue the backs of the trees together (but not the tabs.)
Glue the gold stars in place.
Glue the smallest tree between the two bigger trees.
Finally, glue the tabs to the center of the holiday explosion box.
Congratulations! You’ve created an amazing, totally unique holiday explosion box.
Due to many requests, I’ve added a few different miniatures for the center.
Options for the center of the Holiday Explosion Box include:
Do you want to sell handmade Explosion Boxes?
Many crafters asked if they could create explosion boxes to sell, so I’ve created a commercial use license.
Click on the product for more details.
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