Quick Illuminated Boxes

Contributors: Dia
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Arts and Crafts

I've got a cookie exchange to go to this holiday season, and I spent a little bit of time mulling over a way to add electronics to my box without breaking the bank. I settled on a quick and dirty throwie hack, and I thought I'd share. I used this trick for cookie boxes, but it would also make beautiful wedding favor boxes, gift boxes, or even a safe substitute for tealight walkway lights!

finished illuminated box

I bought plain favor boxes, but I've seen laser cut ones that would look beautiful illuminated from within!

You'll need boxes or bags, as well as tape and a hobby knife. The wishlist below is for the parts I used to make 10 boxes. You can modify the numbers to suit your purpose, you need one of each part per box. You can also use any LED color you like!

Make your Boxes

I started with plain white favor boxes and painted a design on each one while they were still disassembled. Do whatever works stylistically for you -- you can skip this step if you want to cut in the design, or are using precut boxes.

painted boxes

Next, use your craft knife cut a hole (or holes) where you want the light to shine through the brightest. Unless you get a black or very thick box, the whole thing will glow softly in the dark, but you'll get a nice bright light wherever you put the hole(s). Make sure you put a piece of cardboard in the box before you cut, unless you want to cut straight through both sides.

cutting a hole in the box

Adding A Light

To illuminate the boxes, we're going to use something commonly called a 'throwie'. To make one, slide an LED onto a battery so that the two legs straddle it. The LED is polarized. Make sure you attach it to the battery with the correct orientation. The long leg should be on the positive (+) side of the battery, the side with writing stamped onto it, and the short leg should be on the negative (-), textured side. Don't worry if you put it on backwards the first time.

holding led on battery

Wrap a piece of tape around the legs and the battery to secure it in place.

taped throwie

Tape the throwie inside your box, and the light will shine through the holes, illuminating your design and making the box look absolutely magical!

illuminated box

The box is meant to be disposable, as favor boxes generally are, so eventually the battery will die. Before that happens, though, you'll get days of light out of it! I recommend rigging these up the day of your event. They'll shine their brightest, and the recipients will have a lovely glow to remember you by for days after you give them their boxes!