When I began planning for my wedding, I decided that in lieu of a permament keepsake at each place setting, I wanted every guest to get homemade candies in some sort of cute vessel. I've always loved the shape of pillow boxes, with a curved body and curved ends. When I starting pricing out the little boxes for over two hundred guests, however, I realized it would be cost prohibitive. The smallest size available, in plain white cardstock, would have cost about 50 cents per box. That may not seem like a lot, but when you figure in the cost of decorating and filling the boxes . . . I knew we needed a better solution. Hobby Lobby to the rescue! Craft stores sell posterboard in a wide variety of colors and finishes, and I chose a metallic silver for my favor boxes. After some trial and error, I came up with a template that had just the right curve and allowed for enough space inside the box for homemade toffee or chocolate-covered pretzels. My grandfather, a fabrication genius, transferred my template into a durable, two-piece plexi glass template because we had so many boxes to make. My grandparents and parents did the cutting and gluing, and my husband and I did the decorating. These homemade pillow boxes were about five times cheaper (and a hundred times cuter) than the plain ones available online.
To begin, I created a template. I folded a piece of copy paper into fourths. In the photo, I am using a paper grocery bag because I am making a much larger box for a Christmas gift; for a small favor box, sheet of computer paper should be sufficient. This part requires some visualization: with the folded corner at your lower left, mark out the box. You should make it the width you want for one side and half of the height desired for one side. When you open the paper, there will be two sides (a front and a back) and it will be twice the length you marked. Next I marked the curve. This part is tricky: the open space inside your box will be the space between the BOTTOMS of the curves. Make sure to take this into account and leave enough room. Use a rounded object wider than your box to mark the top of the curve. It may take several tries to get the proper radius (the shallower the curve, the easier it will be to fold, but it will also leave less space inside the box). I always find that I initially use a radius that is too small and I need to make the curve more shallow. For example, in the pictures taken of the brown paper template, that curve was too sharp and I ended up adjusting it before I transferred the template to the posterboard. After drawing in the top curve, do the same with the bottom. There should be a football shape on top of your straight sides now (see picture). Cut out the template from paper and spread it out on the posterboard. Use a ballpoint pen to trace around the template, making sure to go over the center line and the bottom curves with the pen (you could also use an embossing tool to go over these lines, it is very important to leave an impression of the curves on the posterboard). Before cutting the box out, add a tab on one edge (the whole length of the edge with angled ends) so that your box can be glued together. Cut out the box, fold along the center line, tabbed edge, and each concave curve. On our wedding favor boxes, we used rubber cement to glue the folded tab to the top edge of the box, but for the box in the photos, I used hot glue. Once the edge is glued together, fold in the curved ends, gluing one end closed if desired.
There are endless possibilities for decorating these pillow boxes. For the wedding, we selected ribbons that matched our colors and placed a wax seal where the ends of the ribbon joined. For the box that I made for the photos, I ended up using velvet ribbon and silver beads to create a poinsettia, appropriate gift wrap for the Christmas present I would like to enclose in the box (pictures to follow in a later post). These boxes would provide a special way to package gift cards for the holidays or birthdays. Select blue or pink heavy paper and decorate them with baby-themed items (rattles, passifiers, ducks, large safety pins, etc.) for a baby shower. Use black posterboard with orange ribbon and plastic spiders for Halloween party favors. Be creative and enjoy!