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One of my absolute favorite parts of being a designer is revisiting projects I would have loved to have made as a kid. I have so many that I filed away in my imagination and share every now and then (…have you seen my poseable conversation hearts…? 😉 ). This Alice in Wonderland themed Valentine Box + DIY tabletop croquet game is truly one of my childhood fantasies come to life!
In addition to collecting valentine cards from classmates or family, this box doubles as an actual mini-game of croquet, taken straight from the pages of Alice – complete with flamingo mallets and playing card wickets.
The many bits & pieces that create this valentine’s box magic are moveable, so you can create your very own course. Celebrate red-painted roses and utterly mad Wonderland-style croquet all year long! You can even decorate with mini garlands of recycled art pennants!
To make your own DIY tabletop croquet Valentine box you’ll need:
- A cardboard box (I recycled a USPS medium flat rate box and it was the perfect size)
- Our Tabletop Croquet Valentine Printable PDF
- (3) Pages of heavy white cardstock for the printable
- A box cutter or utility knife
- Wrapping paper or a paper bag
- Scrap cardboard
- (1) 8.5 x 11″ piece of green felt or paper
- Floral wire or similar
- A glue stick
- A hot glue gun
- Clear tape
- Play dough or a few small balls of clay
- A marble or pom-pom
- You can use real playing cards and heart cut-out shapes instead of our printable to recreate this without printing a thing!
Note: Although our printable makes this project a bit easier and has lots of options for customization, I always like to point out that it’s not necessary – you can use our project as inspiration to draw your own elements! A cardboard box, some real playing cards, and your own additions drawn on paper or cardboard are all you need to re-create your own DIY tabletop croquet game.
DIY Tabletop Croquet Valentine Box Instructions:
- Tape a shoebox-sized box shut, making a cutout for valentines, then cover
Start by taping a mailing box or shoebox shut, cutting a small opening in the front for valentines, and a flap in the back for retrieval. Cover your box with wrapping paper (or recycle some brown bags).
- Download our printable, print and cut out, or make your own elements!
If you’re using our printable, download and print onto heavy white cardstock. There are 3 full-color pages, but also 3 black and white pages without text, that you can color in yourself! Cut out all of the paper elements you’ll be adding to your box or croquet set.
- Use our printable (or a few pieces of cardboard) to line the top of the box
We lined the top of our box with a crown-inspired “fence” – this will help to keep the “ball” from rolling off your croquet grounds! You can use the page from our printable or create your own. Fold all pieces about a 1/4-inch from the bottom, adding glue to the small folded strip, then affix around the top of your box to create a standing barrier.
- Trim felt to create the grass base for your croquet grounds
Place a piece of felt cut to size on the top of your box. We used an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of green felt trimmed down just a little. You can glue it down, but your barrier will hold it in place if you’d like to reuse it for another project later.
- Add the details by using our printable our creating your own
With your croquet grounds finished, you can start working on all the added elements. To create the cute playing card wickets, you can cut out the mini-sized cards from our printable, or use actual playing cards (at full size or trimmed to be a bit smaller). Cut a couple of pieces of floral wire (or something similar) a bit longer than the length of your cards. Tape the 2 wire pieces to the back of your cards and fold the edges of the wire over to create ‘feet’ (as shown below). Gently fold the card into a rounded wicket shape, then glue the head onto the side (and don’t forget to add your own face!).
- Add trees, flamingo mallets and other desired elements
Cut out the trees, bushes, flamingo mallets, and any other desired elements. Glue to scrap cardboard or a cereal box to create a stiff backing so they’ll be able to stand up. Once they’re completely dry, cut out around the cardboard, and stand up using small rounds of clay or play dough as a base as we did.
- Finish with additional handmade or printable details
We added a crown shape over the opening for valentines by using the printable shape provided and hot gluing the ends to the box. To finish everything off, you can add the banners from our printable or make your own!
And with that…let the games (and valentines) begin!