Remember those old Jack in the Box toys? This Christmas, put together a handmade Jack-in-the-Box with children. It’s a quick and simple craft, but it has plenty of applications! It can be a little toy gift for a younger sibling, a homemade card that kids give to relatives, and an engineering craft for STEM enthusiasts to celebrate the season.

Handmade jack-in-the-box to make together with children

You can make a couple of Jack-in-the-Box toys in half an hour, so it’s a pretty quick project. It doesn’t require a lot of materials either. As long as you have some paper to print the templates on and glue to put it together, you are set.

Aside from being a little seasonal craft to give as gift to someone special, a handmade Jack-in-the-Box can also teach kids a couple of things. They can learn:

1 — Using an accordion articulation in place of a spring. This type of articulation can later be used for other paper engineering projects. We have also used it for making simple articulated puppets.

2 — Designing box patterns and putting them together. I haven’t considered it before, but a few days after we made our previous “jacks”, my son spent a morning working on his own set of boxes that were clearly inspired by this craft. Making 3D objects from 2D patterns develops spatial ability.

Play board games, dress paper dolls, read and colour pages, while at the same time learning geography, history, and folklore, with the Christmas Around the World bundle.

Christmas Around the World for Kids: a pack of festive & educational activities

How to Make a Christmas Jack-in-the-Box Paper Toy

You can download the free template at the end of the post. Print the template on a piece of white card stock. Aside from that, all you might need for this craft is a glue stick.

Paper jack-in-the-box printables

The Christmas Jack-in-the-Box comes with three box templates:

  • with the text “Merry Christmas!”
  • with the text “Season’s Greetings!”
  • without any text, so you can write your own wishes on it

It also has four templates for gingerbread man – two that have been decorated and two that have been left plain, so that children could customize them.

Before deciding on the gingerbread man, I considered a snowman, a present, a reindeer, or Santa Claus. Children can draw any of these and put them inside the box instead. They can draw anything, really. After we made this Christmas pop-up box, my son customized a box just for me… with a surprise drawing of a poop inside (he is six – what else can I say?).

1 — Make the box.

Cut along the solid lines, bend at the dotted lines! When you make the folds, doing it over the edge of a ruler helps to get them straight and in the right places.

Christmas jack-in-the-box templates

Put the box together with the help of a glue stick.

Paper "jack" box

When assembling the flap that holds the box shut, use a little bit of glue to hold its pull tab in a folded position. The place that requires glue is marked on the template. Take a look at the close-up photo of how it should be glued together, below.

Paper "jack" box

2 — Make the Spring

Now, how to make the spring? Glue pairs of strips of paper together to make two longer strips out of the four strips on the template.

Materials for making the paper jack-in-the-box spring

Glue the ends of these two long strips at a 90 degree angle.

Beginning to make the paper spring

Start folding them, one on top of the other, also at 90 degrees. Don’t go out of your way to make really crisp folds – leave a bit of spring in it!

Folding the spring for the paper jack-in-the-box

Again and again. Here it is about half-done.

Folding the spring for the paper jack-in-the-box

You can watch the process of me doing it in real time in the video in the post about making a Valentine jack-in-the-box. It may sound complicated, but it’s really easy – easier than making a braid!

Here is the finished spring. We fix the last full fold with a bit of glue, and then we use the bit of paper that is sticking out on the top for attaching the gingerbread man.

Gingerbread man that will go inside the jack-in-the-box

3 — Put the Jack-in-the-Box Together

Glue the gingerbread man onto the spring, then glue the spring at the bottom of the box. This is how they look closed.

There are three jack-in-the-box templates: Merry Christmas, Season's Greetings, and a blank one

But if you pull on the tabs… Surprise!

Two gingerbread jack-in-the-boxes

My little one loved the surprise of having the gingerbread man jump at her.

My daughter is happy to play with her jack-in-the-box

More Printable Activities?

Play a game of Christmas trivia with your family and learn about fascinating Christmas traditions from around the world!

Have fun playing our printable Christmas Guess Who Game while learning about twenty regional Christmas characters and Christmas traditions around the world!

Make a button cardinal collage.

Cardinal button craft for Christmas

Thank you for reading!

Christmas Jack in the Box