How to Make a Pop-Up Card in Three Easy Steps

Do your relatives love getting hand made cards from your kids?

Want your family’s holiday greeting or birthday card to stand out among the rest?

Make an impact on someone’s celebration with a 3-D card your kids can make themselves.

In this article, I’ll show you how to make a pop-up greeting card with your kids in 3 easy steps.

Showcase your kids' drawings and show someone special that you're thinking of them with a handmade pop-up card.

Why Create a Pop-Up Card?

How many times have you said something like this?

“Go make Grandma and Grandpa a special Christmas card, just from you.”

“Be sure to write a thank-you note to your aunt for the…”

“I forgot to buy a birthday card. Can you make one for your friend’s party, please?”

Kids and cards go hand-in-hand.

finished card

You’ll learn to make a simple, kid-friendly pop-up card like this one.

We’ve all received handmade cards from children. We appreciate the effort they put into them, no matter how indecipherable the drawing on the front may be.

Wouldn’t it be great to help your children shock their grandparents with a card that truly surprises them? Thank their aunts, uncles or family friends with a thank-you that’s as thoughtful as the gift? Blow their friends away with the coolest birthday card ever?

Then let’s get popping with a pop-up card!

Pop-up cards add a little something extra to your standard greeting that will make the recipient stand up and take notice. They’re different, they’re cool and they’re oh-so-impressive.

popup cards on pinterest

Pop-up cards can be very elaborate. There are hundreds on Pinterest.

What a great way to showcase your kids’ drawings and show someone special that you’re thinking of them.

Making a pop-up card is a fun way to spend some time together, too.

You Will Need

  • 2 pieces of 9″ x 12″ (23 x 30 cm) colored construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Elmer’s glue or glue stick
  • Crayons or markers
  • Download and print the Snowman and Reindeer picture (PDF) to make the card featured in this article (or use your child’s original background and foreground drawings)

Preparation Time

A few minutes to gather supplies and print out the PDF (optional)

Activity Time

20-30 minutes

Location

Anywhere you can do a craft project

In this article, we’ll make a winter-themed Christmas card using the PDF you can print above.

Feel free to use your child’s original artwork instead to make a card for any occasion. Just have the kids draw something for the background and something else that will “pop” in the foreground.

supplies needed

You probably have all the materials at home already.

Gather the materials needed to make a pop-up card and get started.

#1: Color

A greeting card is nothing without a little color. Let your little ones color the snowy background and the reindeer/snowman foreground to their hearts’ content.

Have them write a Christmas greeting between the two holiday mascots. You can help if they’re not able to write yet.

We had a little help from Fluffy the bearded dragon. (Remember Fluffy from the How to Make a Comic article?)

coloring card

My daughter Isabel’s bearded dragon Fluffy oversaw the coloring process.

#2: Cut

Fold one piece of construction paper in half to make a card.

folding the paper

Match up the corners and fold carefully.

Draw two 1.5″ (4 cm) lines perpendicular to the crease. Draw the lines in the middle of the folded side, 1″ (2.5 cm) apart.

measuring

Mark two lines perpendicular to the fold. These will become your pop-up mechanism.

Now cut along those two lines but don’t cut across the center. You’ll need that tab to create the pop-up.

cutting tab

Cut along the drawn lines only.

Open the card and carefully bend the tab toward the inside so it makes a box.

finished tab

Push the tab toward the inside of the card.

Congratulations, you just created a pop-up card mechanism!

#3: Glue

Cut out the background and foreground drawings (in this example, the snowy hillside is the background and the snowman and reindeer are the foreground).

cutting the drawing

Cut out the drawings.

If necessary, trim the drawings so they’ll be smaller than the construction paper when the card is closed. You won’t want them to poke out from the finished card.

Have your child spread glue across the back of the background art and stick it above the box tab you’ve created.

glueing background art

Glue the background art.

It will make a nice backdrop to the pop-up image you’re about to make.

background glued

Make sure the background art fits on the construction paper before you glue.

Next put some glue on the bottom (front) half of the tab. DO NOT glue the top half of the tab or the foreground artwork itself. If you do, the card will stick together when it’s closed.

glue on tab

Put glue on the front half of the tab, not on the foreground artwork.

Now press the snowman and reindeer to the tab. Make sure the bottom of the artwork is even with the bottom of the tab so it will stand up straight when the card is open 90 degrees.

snowman and reindeer

The 3-D card is nearly complete.

Voilà—You’ve got a pop-up card!

This type of pop-up card has one slight problem: the outside of the card has a hole in it where the tab was turned toward the inside.

Cover the hole with a second piece of colored construction paper. Cut it slightly smaller than the first. Fold it in half and slip it over the outside of the card, covering the hole.

second color

Cut the second paper smaller than the first to leave a colorful border.

Glue the smaller piece to the larger piece—front and back—and no one will see the pop-up mechanism. It’ll be a great surprise when they open your card.

trim your paper

We left a wide red border. Trim your paper to the size you like.

Complete your card by adding a greeting to the front and your masterpiece will be ready to make someone smile.

addressing card

Address your card to someone special.

Grandma or another lucky recipient of your handmade pop-up card will be thrilled and impressed by the artwork, as well as the engineering that was put into making it.

You and your kids will feel a sense of accomplishment for making something so cool.

final card

Isabel’s card is ready to wish her Grandma a very merry Christmas.

Some Final Thoughts

Don’t stop after just one card. Experiment with different foregrounds and backgrounds (try using photos), cards for different occasions and different-sized (or even multiple) pop-up tabs. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.

What do you think? For whom would your kids like to make an extra-special card? What holidays can you help celebrate in an out-STAND-ing way with a pop-up card? If you make a card of your own, please share a picture with us below. We’d love to see it and hear about your card-making experience in the comments.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Michael Corley

Michael Corley is a professional magician, storyteller, voice actor and cartoonist who writes and draws the online comic strip Vox in a Box. Other posts by »


  • Pingback: Vox in a Box - How to make a Pop Up card in Three Easy steps!

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

    I just read my daughter a pop up book last night and she asked how it was made. I showed her how it worked and we talked about making our own. So fitting I would see this today! These posts are fantastic for parents!

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

    Thanks, Michael! Now I want to do this for my Christmas cards, but not times 100! We’ll have to make a special one just for the grandparents. Great idea.

  • http://www.voxboxcomics.com/ Michael Corley

    That’s great it happened to post at such a fortuitous time, Crystal. I hope it is helpful in making one with your daughter!

  • http://www.voxboxcomics.com/ Michael Corley

    Thanks, Jennifer! And you’re just right, a specific few folks would be perfect for a project like this.

  • Pingback: My Kids' Adventure Contributor! | Fine Art Mom

Check out the Parenting Adventures podcast with Michael Stelzner
How to Have an Outdoor Photo Scavenger Hunt With Your Kids
How to Create Glow-In-The-Dark Bowling In Your Home
How to Create a Backyard Treasure Hunt, Minecraft Style
How to Make Slime: 5 Easy Recipes
How to Entertain Your Kids for Hours With Adventure Tubs