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What better gift for the little girl who has everything than a place to put it all? Whether it’s for a tangle of costume jewelry or a budding collection of charms and bracelets, a homemade jewelry box is a sweet — and practical — one-of-a-kind present. And by sourcing the supplies from around your house, you’ll be giving a green gift to boot, a recycled treasure chest that is sure to inspire any girl to get organized. (Of course, a jewelry box is a handy item for moms and sisters and girlfriends, too.)

A cardboard jewelry box is simple to make, but it offers endless possibilities for embellishing — which makes it a perfect DIY project. Think creative, but also think useful; you’ll want your jewelry box to keep different pieces separate, to prevent necklaces from tangling, and to keep pairs of earrings together. Think about the recipient of your gift and what kind of jewelry she has and likes, and then get your creative motor running.

Basic supplies for making a cardboard jewelry box:

  • Cardboard box with a lid (a shoebox works great)
  • Material to “wrap” your box and lid (fabric, wrapping paper, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Thumbtack and ice pick or nail for punching holes in the lid
  • Ribbon for the handle
  • Piece of cardboard the size of your box lid
  • Three small rubber bands (or three lengths of elastic)
  • Cardboard egg container
  • Flower-arranging frogs (also called floral foam; available at craft supply stores)
  • Embellishments (rubber stamps, ribbons, beads, paint, markers, etc.)
Instructions for making a cardboard jewelry box: 

1. Wrap your box and box lid separately. For paper, use double-sided tape; for fabric, use hot glue. If you use fabric, make sure it’s not too thick for the lid to fit over the box. For a funkier approach, reuse old maps or wallpaper scraps, or decoupage a collection of photos and other paper memorabilia onto the box.

2. Make the handle. Use a thumbtack to poke two holes a few inches apart in the center of the lid. Increase the size of the holes with an ice pick or nail. Knot one end of the ribbon and pull the other end through one hole, with the knotted end on the underside of the box. Then thread the ribbon through the second hole and knot the end, leaving enough slack on top of the lid for a handle.

3. Make a necklace holder. Take the piece of cardboard the size of the box lid and trim it so that it is a half-inch smaller on all sides. Make sure it fits to the underside of the lid and that room remains for the lid to fit snugly on the box. Wrap the piece of cardboard in the same paper as the box, or contrasting paper. Wrap the three rubber bands around the short length of the cardboard, equal distances apart. Make sure the rubber bands are tight to the cardboard so that necklaces will be held securely in place. (Unclasped necklaces can be tucked lengthwise under the rubber bands). Or you can glue lengths of elastic to the cardboard for the same effect. Use a glue gun to affix the wrapped and banded cardboard to the underside of the box lid, covering the handle knots.

4. Make compartments for the jewelry. Trim the bottom of your egg container so that it sits inside the box, creating little cups for earrings, rings, bracelets, charms, etc. Cut pieces of the floral frog so that they fit inside the cups; glue the frogs into a few of the cups for holding pairs of earrings in place. You might also want to line the cups with velvet or another soft fabric by hot-gluing it to the inside of the cups.

5. Decorate your jewelry box. The options for embellishments are endless; just remember to keep your giftee in mind. Some ideas: Use rubber stamps to spell out her name, glue beads onto the lid and sides of the box in the shape of flowers, or reuse ephemera from around your house: photos, charms, buttons, etc.

Your girl’s jewelry box is complete! If you want to add to it, place a piece of handmade jewelry or a hand-me-down inside for a surprise.

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