Did you know that the iconic Chinese takeout box was actually invented here in the US? It’s also designed to fold out into a makeshift plate (what!) We thought the carry out design was so iconic we just had to make it into a photobooth prop. Surprise someone for their birthday by popping out of it — who said you could only jump out of cakes? Read on for the DIY!
Food is at the heart of every culture, and when it come to the States, it’s amazing how Chinese food can serve as an example of the adaptability and ingenuity of immigrants (Trey Yuen in Louisiana is known for their Szechuan alligator — for example!). If you haven’t watch it yet, I cannot recommend In Search of General Tso enough! It’s such an interesting movie. You can even make a giant fortune cookie to go with the box!
Materials Needed: Large pieces of cardboard, pencil, ruler, x-acto knife, hot glue gun, gaffers tape, butcher paper roll, large red and yellow cardstock paper, spray adhesive, take-out box design PDF, scissors
Step 1: Get a takeout box, and measure the front of a takeout box. Scale it up by 9x. Draw a trapezoidal shape for the front onto a piece of cardboard and cut out with an x-acto knife. Trace the shape onto another piece of cardboard for a mirror image and cut out, these will be the front and back of the box.
Step 2: Measure the side of a takeout box and size it up by 9x. Draw the shape onto a piece of cardboard and add a 2” margin on both sides, then cut out. Score the 2” line, then fold to form a tab. These tabs will make the box more structurally sound when you assemble it. Repeat for the other side piece.
Step 3: To make the lid flaps for the box, scale up the measurements of the takeout box lid by 9x. The bottom width of the flaps will correspond to the top widths of the pieces you cut out in Steps 1 and 2. Add a 2” margin to the bottom of each piece, then score a line with an x-acto knife and fold to make a tab.
Step 4: Cover the two side pieces of the box, minus the tabs, with white butcher paper and attach with spray adhesive. Hot glue down any loose edges. For the front and back pieces, trace the cardboard shape onto a sheet of butcher paper, then extend the sides out by 20” on each side to create a diamond shape (not the rhombus type). By extending this piece, you’ll achieve the iconic folded-over look of the sides of a takeout box once you glue the box together. Cover both sides of the lid pieces, minus the tabs.
Step 5: To assemble the box, hot glue the tabs of a side piece to the inside of the front piece. We used gaffers tape to hold the pieces in place while the glue dried. Repeat until you have a complete box frame.
Step 6: Hot glue the lid tabs to the interior of the each corresponding side. This will allow the lid pieces to flare out, like a real takeout box. Wrap the extended butcher paper pieces from Step 4 around the side of the box, then tape to secure. Repeat for the other side.
Step 7: Enlarge the takeout box design at your local Kinko’s, then cut out the elements from red paper, and glue to the takeout box.
Step 8: If you want to add noodles to the box, cut long strips of yellow paper and curl the ends. Then, drape the noodles over the corners of the box. You’re all done!
Crafting by Justine Pon
Photography & Styling by Naomi Julia Satake