How to Make a Treasure Box With Your Kids in 5 Easy Steps

Do your kids need a box to collect valentines at school?

Would they love a cool, customized container for their other treasures?

Don’t panic or get stressed about the overly complicated (or overly girly) boxes you find on Pinterest!

It’s easy to make a custom-decorated treasure box your kids will love. All you need is an empty shoebox, some duct tape and an X-acto knife.

In this article I’ll show you how to create a duct-tape treasure box with your kids that’s perfect for Valentine’s Day and beyond.

Create a duct tape treasure box with your kids that's perfect for collecting valentines at school on Valentine's Day and beyond for other treasures.

Why Make a Treasure Box?

What is it with kids and trinkets? Whether it’s pennies, Pokémon trading cards, notes passed in class, valentine cards, rocks or one of a million other kinds of small objects, kids love to collect things.

What may seem meaningless to you is priceless to them (at least at the moment).

A treasure box is a special way for children to claim “their important stuff” and it’s something fun for you to create together.

The first duct-tape treasure box we created was for my son’s Valentine’s Day party in his preschool class. Each year, I receive a note from my children’s school asking us to decorate an old shoebox to hold valentines. (I’ll bet you get the same note!)

“What fun,” I thought. It was something we could do together.

At first, I thought we would use gift wrap. But the feminine colors and birthday patterns I had didn’t exactly meet with my opinionated five-year-old son’s approval. Then we tried to wrap the box in brown paper and paint it.

These options weren’t bad, but it was hard to engage my child in the process. It takes a fair amount of fine motor skills to cut, wrap and tape a box with wrapping paper. He kept ripping the paper and getting discouraged. Not exactly fun.

sample treasure box

Here is a sample of a treasure box with a masculine influence.

Last year, we tried a new approach: duct tape. We chose one with a green camouflage pattern and accessorized it with red duct-tape hearts and letters. He loves his box to this day, and uses it to collect all sorts of valuables.

Your kids will love to make a special treasure box, too.

Duct tape is easy to work with. I’ll never go back to wrapping paper.

The duct-tape styles are endless. Your kids get to be creative. And the duct tape will reinforce the box to make it really strong.

You Will Need

  • Shoebox
  • Utility knife
  • Duct tape in various colors and patterns
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting board to protect your table surface
  • Ruler (optional)

    duct tape samples

    Duct tape comes in so many patterns and colors, your kids are sure to find some they love to cover their boxes.

Preparation Time

Approximately 10 minutes to set aside a workspace and gather materials

Activity Time

30-60 minutes, depending on the intricacy of the design

Location

Work table

empty shoebox

Start with an empty shoebox.

Go find an empty shoebox and let’s get started. (If you need to buy a new pair of shoes to get a box, I won’t tell.)

#1: Cut a “Mail Slot” on the Top of the Box

Before you begin to make your box beautiful, you will need to cut a hole approximately four inches (10 cm) long and one inch (2.5 cm) wide at the top. This will allow for valentines and other such notes to be dropped through the top.

Caution: An adult should cut the slot. It requires steady hands and a sharp knife.

Use a sturdy utility knife to cut through the cardboard. If you want straight, even lines, trace a rectangle on the lid with a pencil and ruler first.

cut a mail slot

Start by having an adult cut a slot in the top of the box with a utility knife.

If you have one, you can use a metal ruler to guide your knife as you cut. I prefer to cut my slot freehand. It’s faster!

#2: Decorate the Box With Duct Tape

Now that you have a mail slot, you are ready to decorate your box.

Have each child select two to three colors of duct tape per box.

duct tape options

You may choose a patterned tape for the top and a solid color for the bottom, or vice versa. Use your imagination!

This is where the fun begins.

Cover the top of the box with duct tape first. The bottom is bigger, and will need more tape to complete. If there is any chance of running short, you will have the most visible part completed if you start with the top.

Decorating your box is pretty straightforward at this point. Follow the lines of the box.

Pull the duct tape all the way across the length of your box.

Be sure to tuck the ends of the tape under the edges of the lid so you don’t tape the box shut.

start taping

Be sure to leave the ends long enough to wrap under the edges of the lid.

You should be able to rip the tape with your fingers. Let your child practice on an extra piece (or some of the cheap silver stuff) so he or she can get the hang of it. Use both hands and pull in opposite directions (one toward you, one away from you). You can also use a pair of scissors to make a neat cut.

Use extra tape on the top to cover any exposed edges. Bend them over the lid and out of sight.

#3: Finish Decorating Around the Mail Slot

When you apply tape to the top, cover most of the mail slot with tape. Then, with scissors, cut two short slits in the tape all the way to the edges of the mail slot. Fold the tape inside so the raw edges of the slot are covered.

tape around mail slot

Cutting a clean line and carefully folding the tape inside the mail slot will give your box a finished look.

The top of your box should be coming together nicely by now, and taking on a festive look.

#4: Tape the Sides of the Box

Use a solid color or complementary pattern on the sides of the box to bring visual interest to it.

Continue to tape the box as you did the top until it is completely covered.

tape the bottom

The top of this box has a funky camouflage tape, so we chose a basic red tape for the bottom.

It’s fine to leave the bottom of the box alone. When the sides are finished, you’re ready to customize.

#5: Make the Treasure Box Yours

This step may require help from an adult or an older child.

Use a cutting board, X-acto knife and possibly a ruler to cut tape into various letters and shapes.

heart accessory

We secured two strips of red tape by slightly overlapping them, and then cut out a heart. You could also create squiggles, Xs and Os, stars or other interesting shapes.

Roll a short piece of duct tape onto a cutting board. Using the X-acto knife, cut “bubble letters” from the tape to spell something. Ideas for letters may spell the child’s:

  • Name
  • School
  • Favorite sports team
  • Fun words such as Love, Winner!, Be Mine, or XO (universally stands for kiss and hug).

Carefully pull your designs off of the cutting board using the X-acto knife. It will be tempting to pull them off with your fingers, but this can stretch out the designs or cause ripples and wrinkles. Use your X-acto knife to lift them—it’s cleaner.

red heart on box

Lift the edge of your tape embellishment with the X-acto knife to prevent pulling and stretching.

Gently set the tape letters and shapes on your box without pressing them down. Move them around until you find a position you like for everything, being careful not to stretch the delicate shapes too much.

This is where you can make your box truly unique. Try something different!

cut extra pieces

You will want to go back and snip off any straggling pieces of adhesive after you cut out letters or shapes.

Mix different tapes to add visual interest to the spelling of your name.

Overlap strips of tape to make wide pieces from which you can cut large embellishments such as a big heart or a bold monogram.

When you have everything in place where you like it, tap the pieces down until they are fully secured.

Some Final Thoughts

You know what people say about duct tape, right? Indestructible and fixes a multitude of household problems. We even used duct tape for a few months to hold together a car bumper! Your boring shoebox is now bold and brazen, ready for an onslaught of valentines and much, much more.

What do you think? Duct tape has so many uses. What has your family used it for? What will your kids store in their treasure box once Valentine’s Day is past? Share your words and pictures below.

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About the Author, Robin Bermel

Robin Bermel socially markets small businesses and serves in various children’s ministries. She especially enjoys feeding and goofing off with her husband and three, school-age children. Other posts by »


  • http://www.mykidsadventures.com/ Jennifer Ballard

    Thanks, Robin! Great idea! My son has all sorts of collections. I bet he’ll love to customize a box for each one.

  • Robin Bermel

    Yes, great for collections. I am using ours now for the half-finished Valentines that the kids are writing out. Some have stickers and tattoos with them. My son has pencils that go with his Valentine. I find tossing them in their box is a handy way to keep all those pieces contained, until their class party.

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    I have a shoebox set aside that needs decorating for Friday! I was thinking of using duct tape, now I am for sure!! Great inspiration!

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    OK – Valentine box is done!! Wanted to share it with you!

  • Robin Bermel

    Way, way cute!! I love the heart stickers. Maise did a fabulous job! The pink & black complement each other well too! It sure looks like you had fun.

  • http://www.fineartmom.com/ Crystal Foth

    Thanks for the comment. I know it looks black in the photo, but it was actually silver tape – so it was shiny! She loved it and had a great time at school sharing it!

  • Robin Bermel

    Oh… shiny is even better. Gotta have the bling!

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