Holiday gift idea: DIY minimalist treat box


Often, the holiday season is about more food, more presents, and, as a result, MORE TRASH. If the pain of cleaning up piles of wrapping paper and product packaging after the season makes your lazy bones ache or your good conscience ping with guilt, we’ve got the perfect gift ideas for you.

When it comes to eco-friendly gift-giving, the first step is to resist. Consider whether a gift is truly necessary at all. If it is, consider gifting experiences, or at least useful, long-lasting items. Dulce et utile: sweet and useful. Another option, of course: give consumables. Here’s an idea for you based on some party favors we crafted a few years ago. We had a blast creating them, and our guests adored heading home with a homemade gift.

What we love about this DIY:

  • It gives new life to a paper grocery bag (from that time you forgot your reusable bags).
  • Once the box wears out, it can easily be recycled or composted.
  • Fruit as a winter treat harkens back to a simpler time.
  • The yummy treats are all found in the bulk aisle – no packaging necessary!
  • It makes us feel like we’re living in a Victorian novel or just got back from sledding.

You’ll need:

  • A paper bag
  • Scissors
  • A sturdier cardboard square (we used the cardboard inserts from a box of wet cat food, but you can substitute a piece from a shipping box or cereal box)
  • A ruler
  • Treats/goodies to fill the box – we used clementines, dates, pecans, candied ginger, and chocolate-covered cherries

Preparing the bag:

Cut along the length and around the bottom of the bag.







Find another use for the bottom rectangle – you won’t need this part. Tear off the handles.





Measure two 12×12″ squares and cut them out.






The one with the design you most want to display will become the “top” of the box.







To make the box top:

Fold in half diagonally to make a triangle.







Make a strong middle crease, and reinforce all creases as you go!







Take an outside corner and fold in just to the crease, and fold edge.







Fold again, this time to the crease you just made. Repeat on other side.







Fold in each corner over to the second crease.







Repeat all these steps again, folding the diagonal the other way.

Make four cuts as indicated in the picture.







Fold the sides in twice.














Raise the folded portions up and bring the corners in to make the first “wall” of the box.







Raise each end flap and fold them over to secure the sides. (If you have unruly paper or want to make it extra secure, you can use tape.)





















Crease corners to strengthen the shape of the box.







To make the box bottom:

Repeat steps 3 – 11 above on the other square.

Trim the bottom piece around the edges just a touch to make it *slightly* smaller than the top piece – it will be an easier fit this way.

Cut your cardboard piece to fit inside the bottom. This will make the box more secure and help hold the weight of the treats.







Finishing touch:

Fill the box with goodies! You can vary the size of the box, mix and match lids, and experiment with treat combinations.







Deena Lilygren lives, writes, and indulges her many obsessions in Louisville, Kentucky, where she also writes for LEO Weekly magazine. She is an Associate Professor of English at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College. She graduated from UofL with an MA in English Literature, and just completed an MFA in creative writing at Murray State University.




Maggie Brown, the Editor-in-Chief of New Southerner, is an Associate Professor at Elizabethtown Community & Technical College, where she has taught writing, literature, film studies, and rock & roll lit. She resides in Louisville, Kentucky, and enjoys giving talks and leading workshops about her experiences with the zero waste and vegan lifestyles. Her philosophy is that sustainability for the planet perfectly aligns with sustainability for the self. She’d love to hear from you at maggie [at] newsoutherner [dot] com.

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