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open-ended paper heart box

Ah, Valentines’ Day. The 24-hour span responsible for the greatest number of breakups in the year. A day that drips with soggy Hallmark declarations, bursts with the emotion of panicked last-minute lovers in flower shops, rings with the voices of a million untrustworthy women saying, “No, no, you don’t need to get me anything.” A day of nightmare.

Are we all in a nice romantic mood now? For the past four Valentine’s Days I’ve been happily in a relationship, but have steadfastly refused to mark the holiday with anything more than a cursory acknowledgement. Last year my boyfriend and I watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is a Valentine’s movie, in a dark, depressing way. It was great. This year we’re going to order in Chinese food and watch a movie. Probably – knowing us – something violent and gory, like Kill Bill.

But I’ll admit, the crafter in me does enjoy another chance to decorate, to wear outrageous amounts of red (my favourite colour) and to make cute stuff for people. I do like the excuse to get my boyfriend a token gift of some kind. But that’s the point, people: token. Something small, something caring, something that the other person will like.

An old roommate once came home furious at her boyfriend because he’d given her roses on Valentine’s Day. She wasn’t angry because of the flowers in and of themselves, but because he’d clearly given them out of a sense of romantic duty, and she didn’t really even like flowers that much. It was actually pretty funny, in a dark, semi-depressing way. (Are you seeing a Valentine’s Day theme emerging here?) Meanwhile, my boyfriend gave me a book of Neil Gaiman’s short stories, with a sweet little message written inside. My roommate’s boyfriend – in her estimation – did not compare favourably.

So if you’re going to give Valentine’s gifts, ignore the dull clichéd ideas of flowers and chocolates and teddy bears (unless they’re awesome pirate teddy bears – see below) and just go with something your significant (and hopefully to remain that way past midnight) other will really appreciate. A book, a CD, a gift card to the coffee shop they stop at every morning, a special home-cooked dinner, a 6 pack of imported beers or a bottle of good wine. Or something that you’ve made. Whether or not you’re very good or practiced at making things, it means a lot to people to receive something you put time and effort into.

Or ignore everything I’ve said and just give them chocolate and a sappy note. In which case, you can put it in a disgustingly cute little heart container, which you make like this:

What you’ll need:

  • coloured cardstock
  • a printer (or you can draw your own template on your paper)
  • my open-ended heart box template  – number 5. under “Paper patterns and templates”
  • scissors
  • glue OR tape
  • ruler
  • mechanical pencil
  • [optional] crayons, markers, stamps and inkpad, ribbon, and any other embellishments you care to add
  • filler – y’know, stuff to put in the box once it’s made

Putting it all together:

1) Print the heart box template onto your coloured cardstock, and cut along the solid black lines. To design your own template, you just need a heart whose sides are completely straight lines for about the bottom 2/3 of its height. Trace said heart, leave a rectangular gap, and trace the heart again, straight sides parallel to each other. Then add another rectangular gap of the same width on the outer side of one of the hearts, and draw another narrow rectangle next to that for the tab that glues the two hearts together. Just look at the template image – it’ll make way more sense than the jibberish I just wrote.

2) [optional] Use crayons and markers to colour bits of the box. It’s easier to do this now than when the heart is all folded and 3 dimensional. (Remember that you’ll be folding this so both the back and front of the paper will be visible, so decorate both sides of the paper.)

3) Using your ruler and mechanical pencil, score the dotted lines on the template. This means dragging the metal tip of the pencil, with no lead showing, along the dotted lines to create an indented line. This helps the paper fold neatly.

4) Fold (inward) along the dotted lines.

5) Apply glue to the narrow tab on the left side of the template, then secure it to the inside of the opposite heart shape. Or you can tape it in place.

6) Decorate as you see fit. Write a note on the front or back, glue a gaudy sequence of feathers and flowers and sequins all over the box, colour it black and cover it with Dashboard Confessional lyrics in invisible ink while crying softly to yourself – whatever floats your boat.

7) Fill with goodies and give the sweet heart to your sweetheart. See what I did there? Isn’t it gross? Doesn’t it make you want to gag? Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

Leave a comment


  1. Monica

     /  February 12, 2011

    Ooooh I saw another heart-shaped box earlier today and this one looks much simpler, which means it’ll come out a lot cleaner! Thanks!

  2. I thought of popcorn when I saw the final picture. I can see cinemas stealing the heart box idea and using it for valentine’s day.
    hmm, aren’t you afraid that Jerermy will see the box on the blog, so he’ll know what you’ll give him in advance? wouldn’t you like to wring all the adulation of the heart box out of him as is possible?
    this is neat, though! and was that gorgeous pirate teddy hand crafted?

  3. Marita

     /  February 13, 2011

    If only all of my past and future boyfriends could get me like you do Tally…

  4. admin

     /  February 16, 2011

    :D I try, Marita, I try. Maybe you should send them over here for a few key tips.

    N, I totally had this problem at Christmas, when I couldn’t post tutorials for all the gifts I was making, since many of my friends and family actually read my blog. On the other hand, now I can post them for next Christmas, while I make new stuff, and post that the next year, and so and so forth. It wasn’t a problem with this post, though, as I had other plans for Jeremy. I do love the popcorn idea, btw.

  5. shop directory

     /  November 22, 2012

    Wow that was unusual. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing
    all that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say fantastic

  6. Lizzy_Here

     /  July 5, 2013

    Hey! I saw this tutorial and it looks so cute. My cousin has given birth to a baby boy so i bought a book for him which is big and rectangle so if i want to make a box in which i can easily slip that book. should rectangles be straight or a little turned like you did with the hearts one. Please reply fast as I have to visit my cousin after two days.
    Love, Lizzy

    • Liza_inluv

       /  July 5, 2013

      Well I think she turned the hearts because they had curved sides, but in rectangle all sides r straight so i don´t suppose you must turn it you kan keep it straight. Well this is my opinion, otherwise you can ask the others.

    • Tally

       /  July 9, 2013

      Love the book box idea – so cute! IF I’m understanding your question correctly, the answer is that you should be fine leaving the rectangular tabs straight if you’re making a totally rectangular box, like for a book.

      Good luck with the project, and enjoy meeting the new member of your family!

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