DIY Exploding Butterfly Box with Flying Butterflies!

Tutorial for DIY exploding butterfly box made with colorful cardsock and butterflies in the corners.

Learn how to make an Exploding Butterfly Box with moving parts and hidden secrets!

Butterflies are so thrilling to watch in nature, but did you know you can make some of your very own? Yes, you can make butterflies that move on their own (ok, with a bit of help) as part of my new exploding butterfly box! This project was inspired by my endless explosion box, which so many of you have made! One variation — the heart explosion box — just didn’t seem like enough, so now you have another option! This gift box would be especially beautiful paired with my easy butterfly card. Let me show you how to make two versions in different sizes!

Watch the full step-by-step tutorial video on how to make an Exploding Butterly Box premiering Saturday, July 16.

My exploding butterfly is easy to make! We’ll cover how to cut and keep track of the various layers and butterfly pieces to keep your crafting stress-free. I’ll also share one of my favorite craft glues to use on your tabs. It’s perfect for applying just the right amount of adhesive to small spots, even delicate (paper) butterfly wings! 

When it’s all assembled, the exploding butterfly box looks bright and cheery, but it has more in store!

Of course, I couldn’t call this a magic butterfly gift box without a surprise element. That’s where our flying butterflies shine! Just a bit of wire and a rubber band will help them take flight!

These butterflies may look simple, but I’ll show you how to wind them up and place them just right in the box so butterflies fly out when the top is opened!

Here you can see the butterflies flying out of my exploding butterfly box:

If the butterflies are too fiddly for you, or you need to make a larger box, I’ve also included a bigger version. You can buy the magic flying butterflies in the material list below to easily fit inside.

You can cut the cardstock by hand, but a Cricut cutting machine will help this go so much faster! If you use a Cricut, you’ll also want a green machine mat, fine point Blade, Scoring Stylus (or Scoring Tool), scraper, and brayer.

Ready to make this Exploding Butterfly Box gift for yourself or someone else? I’m super excited to show you how! This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.

Quick Links to Information in this Post

Materials to Make an Exploding Butterfly Box 

View my Amazon shopping list with the exact items we used to make this project!

If you’d like to add the butterflies, you can purchase some Magic Butterflies to use with the larger box, or make your own using:

How to Make an Exploding Butterfly Box

Exploding Butterfly Box

Yield: One (1) explosion box with four (4) magic butterflies
Active Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy to Medium
Estimated Cost: $14-$18

Surprise your friends and family by learning how to create a fun exploding butterfly box with magic wind up butterflies that fly out when you open the box!





First, download my Exploding Butterfly Box SVG/DXF/PDF files from my free resource library. It's Design #397.

The SVG folder has two subfolders, one for use with a scoring tool and the other designed to make creases with dashed cut lines. I'm going to show you how to make the files labeled "no-score-tool-needed" but if you prefer to use a scoring tool, follow the directions for my DIY Envelope tutorial to adjust and cut the other version.

In the folder with "no-score-tool-needed" in the name, you'll find the three SVGs we'll use for this project.

The file named "exploding-butterfly-box" has the four boxes and lids with two notecard pockets and two blank notecards per box. The file with "bigger-box" in the title has all the same elements at a larger size. These files can be used with the premade magic butterflies linked in the materials list. The files with the words "magic-flyers" have pieces for four DIY magic butterflies.

Today, I'm going to show you how to make the normal box with dashed cut lines and DIY butterflies, but you can use these steps for other variations, too. I'll show you the easy extra step for the bigger boxes when we get to it!

Upload your chosen box and magic flyer SVG files to Cricut Design Space and add them to your Canvas.

TIP: If you are not sure how to upload an SVG cut file to Cricut Design Space, watch this helpful video training series I made.

If you are on an iPad or iPhone, here is how to download and upload SVG files to the Cricut Design Space app


Here is what both the exploding box and magic flyer designs look like on the Design Space Canvas.

You can zoom out to see everything by clicking on the minus (-) sign on the lower left.

The proportions of the designs are important, so I don't recommend resizing it. You can experiment with changing the colors, but I suggest you first make one that uses the same colors as my demonstration. There are a lot of pieces, and this way the instructions will be easier to follow!

Everything is ready to cut! Make sure you have the right machine selected and click "Make It."

If prompted, click "On Mat," "12 in x 12 in," and "Continue."

To save cut time and materials, you can combine the elements on Mat 10 on to Mat 9 and Mat 14 on to Mat 13. Just select a shape you want to move, click the three dots and click "Move object." Then, click the Mat you want to cut the shape on and then drag it to an open space. Repeat for the other items and mats.

This will give you fourteen total mats.

Click "Continue" in the bottom right.

For the black box layers with butterfly wings, I found that the "Cardstock (for intricate cuts)" setting worked best. To find it, click "Browse All Materials" and type "Intricate" in the search bar. Then select the result, click Apply, and leave the Pressure at "Default."

For all the other mats, I used the "Medium Cardstock" setting with More Pressure.

Make sure your Cricut Fine-Point Blade is clean and in Clamp B.

Place your first mat's cardstock on a green Cricut StandardGrip Machine Mat. Use a brayer to adhere it well. Load your mat and press your machine's Go button.

Once the mat is finished, unload it, flip it over on your workspace, and gently roll a corner back to release the cardstock. Complete the process for the rest of the mats, loading the colors in the order indicated on your screen.

TIP: When removing the intricate wing pieces from your mats, go slowly and use the spatula to gently lift them so they don’t tear.

Keep in mind that all pieces are shaped exactly the same for each box. They're just different sizes. The largest pieces will go with Box 1 and the smallest will go with Box 4. You'll also have some additional pieces for the magic butterfly wings and the accents for the outside and lid of Box 1. As you cut each mat, stack the items by box number. Refer to your Design Space Canvas if you are ever unsure which pieces go with which box.

TIP: You can save three of the small butterfly shaped cutouts from the squares and attach one to the top of each of the inner box lids for an extra finishing touch.


NOTE: If you made the "bigger-box" version, you'll need to glue the large black box and side pieces with attached butterflies and tabs together before you start the assembly.

Take the largest black box without dashed cut lines and place it in the middle of your workspace, face down if there is a difference on your paper. Then, find the four largest side pieces with attached butterflies and tabs and place them face down around the box. Position each side piece so the dashed cut line on its tab matches an edge of the large box. The butterflies should then be at the four corners.

Place a line of glue along the underside of each tab and press it in place so they will be on the inside of the box.

Repeat for the rest of the boxes, making sure you use the same size butterflies for each. Then continue with the directions.

First, find the pieces for your largest box.

Place the main box piece on your work surface with the exterior face up. Apply a very thin line of glue just around the outside edges of the top wing area in one of the butterfly corners. Then, apply a top wing piece face down. Be sure to align it with the edges of the piece attached to the box below before pressing down. Flip your main piece over to make sure no glue seeped out underneath. If you see any, just wipe it away gently with your finger or a paper towel.

Make sure your box is face down and apply a thin line of glue around the outside edges of the bottom wing area, avoiding the dashed cut lines connecting the wings to the box. Attach a bottom wing piece following the same method as above.

If you're using the same colors of cardstock as me, you can rotate the colors you use in each corner to give your box a more uniform look. Repeat this process for the other three butterfly corners.

Now take the main box piece and begin folding the four box sides on the dashed cut lines with the inside of the box face up.

Push in the corner wings as you bring the two sides of the box together. It helped me to use a scraper tool to crease the wings neatly down the center. Repeat this process for the remaining three corners of the butterfly explosion box piece.

This is what Box 1 should look like with everything folded.

Now take your two square pieces with rounded corners and put glue on the back. Glue one in the center of the left box piece's inside wall and the other on the right box piece. Make sure you have an equal amount of the main box piece showing around all edges of each square.

Now take your two pocket pieces -- which mimic the shape of the top of a butterfly's wings and head -- and fold the tabs inward. Use your scraper tool to get nice, sharp creases.

Apply glue along the tabs and place one pocket on the top box piece so there's an equal amount of the main box piece showing to the left, right, and below it. Press down to adhere the tabs. Take one of your white notecards and place it inside the box. Follow this same process for the other pocket and notecard. Here's what the inside of my first box looks like with all the accessories attached.

Flip your box over so the outside is facing you. Take your four squares with butterfly pieces cut out of the centers and apply glue to the back of each one. Attach them to the sides of the box, making sure the butterflies all face outward. If you're unsure which direction a piece should go, pick up the box and hold it with the sides closed. Position your square piece on the side so the butterfly is facing up and hold it in that position. Now flip the box back over and make sure to glue the piece on the outside facing in that direction.

Now let's assemble the lid!

Find the butterfly-shaped piece with cutouts and the two pieces for the top and bottom wings. Apply glue to the back of the butterfly along the outside edges, just like you did for the corner wings. Attach the wing pieces, making sure they're aligned before pressing down. Set this piece aside to dry.

Grab the lid piece and place it face down in front of you. Fold the four sides inward. Now flip that piece over. Take the two triangle shaped pieces and apply glue to their backs. Place one in each corner of the lid's center, making sure they don't overlap the dashed cut lines.

Take your assembled butterfly and fold the wings upward slightly. Put a line of glue along the underside of the body section. Place it in the center of the lid and press down to adhere it.

Now add glue to the tab at the end of each side of the lid. Place each tab under its adjacent lid side and press the pieces together to adhere. Repeat this process for the remaining three corners.

You're done with Box 1!

Now you can follow this exact same process to assemble the other three boxes. The only differences will be the boxes' outsides and the lids. You won't be attaching anything to the outside of the three inner boxes, and the inner lids won't have triangle shaped pieces or butterflies to attach. So these boxes should come together much quicker than the first one!

When you're done, you'll place Box 4 (the smallest box) inside of Box 3, Box 3 inside of Box 2, and Box 2 inside of Box 1 (the largest box).

Here's what all of my boxes look like once they're assembled.


If you're making your own magic butterflies, here's how you assemble them!

First, use your tape measure and a pen or pencil to measure a popsicle stick and make a mark at 2". Use your wire cutters to cut the stick at this mark. You may have to press down a few times with the cutters depending on how sharp they are. If you're having trouble getting it to cut all the way through, you can bend and break the stick at the mark made by your cutters.

Now take one of your bottom wing pieces, which resemble upside down hearts, and put a line of glue down the center of the back. Place the popsicle stick onto the glue so the wings are at the bottom curved end. The end you cut will be sticking up above the wings. Position the stick so just a bit of the bottom extends past the center of the wings.

Now plug in or turn on your glue gun so it can heat up while you work on the next step.

Take your wire and cut a piece about 2" long. Flatten it out as best you can with your fingers. Now use the very tip of your round nose pliers to hold it in the center. Wrap the wire's ends around the pliers until they meet at the bottom, keeping them as straight and parallel as possible.

Use your needle nosed pliers to pinch the rounded end of your wire to make it as narrow as possible.

Use your round nose pliers to fold the rounded end over by about a quarter of an inch. This will make a hook shape. Cut the loose ends of the wire to even them up if necessary.

Apply hot glue to the bottom of the popsicle stick and press the loose wire ends into it so they touch the very bottom of the stick. The rounded end of your hook will be facing down. Set this piece aside for now.

NOTE: Be careful not to burn yourself when pressing the wire into the hot glue. Wearing heat resistant gloves or using finger protectors can help.

Cut another piece of wire about 3" long. Straighten it with your fingers. Use your round nose pliers to hold the wire in the very center again, but this time make sure to position the piece of wire at the widest part of the pliers. Wrap the wire around the pliers to make a loop with the ends facing straight out in opposite directions.

Now use your needle nosed pliers to grip one of the ends just outside the loop you made. Bend this end down so it's perpendicular to the loop. Do the same thing with the other end so they are parallel with each other. You may have to adjust the ends a bit to get them parallel with each other while keeping them perpendicular to the loop. Just make sure your loop stays in a circle shape. If your wire gets misshapen in the process, no worries! Just cut another piece and try again.

We're going to glue this wire piece to the back of the popsicle stick, on the opposite side as our first piece. Hold the wire piece on the back of the stick at the top with the loose ends against the stick. Allow the end with the loop to extend up above the top of the stick. Make sure the loose ends don't overlap your bottom wings. If they do, just cut them shorter. Make sure both ends are the same length.

Now apply hot glue to the back of the stick in this area. You can use a generous amount because we want to make sure the wire stays in place while we're winding up the finished butterfly's wings. Attach the wire to the stick and leave the top looped part overhanging it.

Cut another piece of wire 4.5" long. Straighten it with your fingers. This one will need to be as flat and straight as possible, so use the flat part of your needle nosed pliers if needed. Use the very tip of your round nose pliers to hold the wire in the center. Wrap the ends around the pliers until they meet at the bottom, keeping them as straight and parallel as possible.

Using your needle nosed pliers, pinch the rounded end together to make it narrow enough to fit inside the loop of the top piece of wire attached to your popsicle stick. This will be the hook we use to wrap the rubber band around, so a rubber band will still need to fit through the hook after you've shaped it.

Use your needle nosed pliers to pinch one of the loose ends about a quarter of an inch from the rounded hook. Bend the remaining wire out at this point so it's angled upward at about 45 degrees. Try to keep the piece as straight as possible. Do the same thing with the other end piece so it's facing in the opposite direction but the same angle. Lay the shaped wire down on your work surface and make sure it's flat. If any part is bent or sticks up, push it down or flatten it with your pliers.

Now take your two cardstock pieces for the top wings and fold them in half along the dashed cut lines. Make sure the paper's pretty side faces out. Put a line of hot glue along the fold on the inside and on one side of the wing. Slide one end of the wire into the wing piece along the fold and close the wing around it so it's sandwiched inside.

Make sure the wider part of the wing faces the same direction as the rounded hook. The end of the wire should be positioned just at the tip of the wing, leaving a bit of wire showing at the other end next to the hook. If any of the loose end of the wire sticks out past the paper, just cut the excess off with your wire cutters.

Follow the same process to attach the other wing to the remaining wire end.

Now we can attach the rubber band!

Take a blue rubber band that's 1/8" thick and fold it in half around the hook in your wire piece attached to the top wings. Now pinch the ends together and push them through the loop at the top of your popsicle stick. Slide the looped ends over the hook at the bottom of your popsicle stick to fully attach the rubber band to the bottom wings piece. Now it looks like a butterfly!

Repeat the process above for the other three magic butterflies.

Once you're finished making all four butterflies, you can wind them up one at a time and place them inside Box 1. Since the butterflies will want to unwind as soon as you let them go, you'll need both hands free to place them inside the box. Our explosion box doesn't stay closed on its own without the lid, so I found that wrapping a rubber band around the box helped.

Take a magic butterfly and wind the top wings around 25 to 30 times. The rubber band will start to bunch up and that's okay. This will create more tension and will help the butterflies fly out of the box when it's opened. Once you have it wound up, don't let go of the top wings. Hold them in place until you get them down inside the box.

Slide the butterfly down in between the inside of Box 1 and outside of Box 2, being careful to avoid the corner wing and pocket pieces.

Repeat for the other three butterflies, You can place one butterfly on each of the four sides of the box.

TIP: If you place a butterfly inside the box and it's too wide or tall to fit, pull it back out and let it unwind. Then, bend the top wings up or down more (increasing or decreasing the angle of the wire on both sides) until you get it to a size that fits nicely in the box.

Once all four butterflies are wound up and tucked away inside the box, put the lid on top and make sure the sides are secure before removing the rubber band.

Once you remove the lid, the butterflies should fly out, revealing the inside of your explosion box! Definitely try it out so you know what to expect!

NOTE: If your butterflies don't "fly" when you open the box, try winding the rubber band even more. The butterfly wings should be wound so tight that they are trying to unwind in your hand as you put them in the box. If you've wound your butterfly up several times and find that the rubber band is sticking to itself and not wanting to unwind on its own, try replacing the rubber band with a new one.


You're done! Now you can write personalized notes on each notecard and add any extra surprises to the boxes before giving it to someone special, like that butterfly lover in your life. Just remember to rewind and replace the magic butterflies before giving the box to them. They'll just love seeing the butterflies fly out when they open the box!


Finished Size of Box: 4" wide by 4" tall by 4" deep

Finished Size of Magic Butterfly: 3.75" wide by 3.75" tall

Note about Magic Butterflies: If you choose to purchase the magic butterflies linked in the materials list instead of creating your own, please note that they're a larger size. You will need to use one of the files labeled "bigger-box" for this. The boxes in these files have been divided into five parts so they can be cut on 12" x 12" cardstock and will need to be glued together using the tabs.

Note about Cardstock: If you're cutting the more intricate layers of this design on black cardstock like I am, I recommend using the Recollections brand linked in my materials list. Black cardstock is particularly hard to cut, and after some testing I found that Recollections brand smooth cardstock works well every time.

© JenniferMaker
Project Type: DIY / Category: DIY Crafts

Answers to Your Questions About Making an Exploding Butterfly Box

Q. What is an exploding box?

An exploding box (also known as an explosion box) is a series of nesting boxes where the next layer falls open (it’s like a really gentle explosion) when you remove the top.

Q. What do you put in an exploding box?

I’ve added several pockets for little notecards, but you can add anything you like!

Q. What is the best paper to use for exploding box projects?
As long as you use good-quality 65 – 80 lb cardstock, you can get very creative with your choices! Paper with texture might be more difficult to glue securely, but will works perfectly as notecards inside!

How should I decorate my exploding butterfly box?
Stickers, glitter glue, small photos, trinkets, anything you want!

Get my free SVG files for the Exploding Butterfly Box!

Now, I’d love to see your exploding butterfly box project and the magic buterflies you use! If you make anything with these designs, please share a photo in our Facebook group, email it to me at, or tag me on social media with #jennifermaker.


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