The Valentine’s Origami Box When You Can’t Follow Directions

Nothing good ever comes out of being awake at 5AM, especially not my decision to make a Valentine’s origami box for each member in my university organization. I wasn’t sane—I’d been unable to sleep for hours and had tried everything. I didn’t look at any screens. I tried the 4-7-8 method. Not even my 1,000-page business law textbook could put me under. But I still should’ve known better.


Points I should’ve considered prior to making my decision

  1. There are 44 people in our org.
  2. I had less than a week, because next meeting would be our Valentine’s exchange, where we’d put notes and candy in each other’s paper bags.
  3. A box might be take up too much real estate in a paper bag containing 43 other Valentines.
  4. Boxes have lids.
  5. I still want people in my org to like me.
  6. I’m bad at origami.

Points I actually considered

  1. I didn’t own any little plastic bags for candy.

I believe origami and anger management are diametrically opposed concepts. I suck at origami because I can never get folded edges to match up perfectly, and paper folding is one of those endeavors in which each marginal mistake you make compounds into one flaming blaze of failure. You start making a penguin, crease a couple times, and all of a sudden you’re holding a used tissue. Maybe you need to pay more attention to where you hypothetically blow your nose or to things in general and that’s why you can’t do origami, but it’s much more obvious to me that origami is just incomprehensible.

Also, the step-by-step images always make perfect sense until they either place too much faith in my intellect and skip several crucial steps or they show pictures that don’t match the instructions.


I followed a masu box tutorial from Spruce Crafts and got stuck on step #16, “assemble the box by lifting the right edge and bending the top layer as shown.”



I squinted at my phone screen, and my sleep-starved brain screamed that if all I was doing was “bending the top layer as shown,” how come the bottom layer didn’t look anything like the picture? Had I done something wrong in #15? The bottom looked like it opened down based on the shadows, but mine was opening up.

Eventually I realized, in different lighting, that the bottom part pointed straight up rather than opening down, and that the demonstrator had gone ahead and folded the bottom as well, without mention. That was why it looked different. I successfully made a box only its mother could love.


… Then I remembered that boxes have lids. And that not all lids are the same size.


These successive realizations almost knocked me out cold, and, still sleep-deprived, I’m kind of sad they didn’t.

Later I realized that just folding half an inch away from the center in #14 would’ve done the trick to make the same thing, just a bit bigger, to serve as the lid so the original “lid” could serve as the box. By then I’d found this easier tutorial for an origami gift box with the same principle.

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15 thoughts on “The Valentine’s Origami Box When You Can’t Follow Directions

  1. Ha! I just could not resist and had to click through to the “easier” tutorial. Clearly your mind in more nimble than mine. The only thing I took away from that was that masu boxes are now mostly used to drink sake. That made perfect sense to me.
    I hope your meeting/exchange goes well and your bag fills to the brim with greetings. HVD!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t even remember seeing that part of the tutorial, which is incredible because it seems like, by far, the most important section! I agree, makes perfect sense. Thanks and happy Valentine’s Day to you–wish you a relaxing day filled with choices not to engage in origami.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I haven’t read your post yet. I just feel compelled to comment, what happened?! You used to be a consummate procrastinator like me and we would both be rushing to post before the bell tolled midnight on Sunday. Yet now, I sit down to put my thoughts on screen and I see that you…have…already…posted…again! If I were a noble person I would be saying, good for you!

    I’ll read it later. After I’ve written at least a first draft of my own post. : – )

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This comment made me laugh and feel guilty for not procrastinating (kudos!) I’m not sure, either. I moved my deadline to Sunday morning so now I do the exact same thing–rushing to post before the bell tolls midnight–and schedule the post. We’ll see how long this changed “me” lasts, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s hilarious! 😀 I hope it was supposed to be a hilarious post…

    Your box looks really good. It’s funny that the lid doesn’t fit, it’s better that way as it makes it a perfect gift to cheer someone up on Valentine’s, it’ll make them laugh and forget the crushing blow of reality on romantic hopes and dreams.

    It’s kawaii!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, it was, thank you! Haha, it looks like it’s “made with love,” which is what people say when you make a particularly dumpy craft–or “it’s the thought that counts”–something I’ve got experience with. Nice spin. And I managed to make separate lids and boxes for those two so at least I have fitting ones now, even if they’re ugly!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. OK, I have, at least a draft of my blog now (actually, three different drafts, I can’t decide what I want to say this week!) and don’t feel so panicked. I read your blog. You captured the origami experience perfectly. I especially like how you note that the instructions always skip steps! I believe it’s all calculated to make us feel inept. Works surprisingly well too.

    Time to go out and buy some plastic bags and candy?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so me omg I make big plans and then they go whooosh! I once planned a huge card for my mom’s birthday with super cute and artistic ideas, which also required patience and effort (which I failed to realize huhu). She was even aware of it although not the details ( coz I used to send her in the other room so that I could work on it “secretly” LMFAO) Ended up abandoning it smh what did I even expect.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is why I stick to one thing only. I only fold paper cranes. Anyone who says origami is easy is a liar. My first crane looked like garbage. I think I’ve folded at least 5000 cranes in my lifetime to confidently tell you that I can fold a bird out of a candy wrapper and can fold them in my sleep too. Napkins? No problem. The waitresses love me.

    I love your form of procrastination. It seems like something I would try to pull off the night before finals. Great minds think alike 😀 fold 1000 more of these babies you’ll be folding boxes in your sleep too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As Homer Simpson says, trying new things is the first step to failure! I also fold paper cranes… just not well. They also can get pretty uneven when I’m through with them. And yikes, no more boxes until my next bad decision.

      Liked by 1 person

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