10 Tips for Designing Custom Gift Boxes

If you have decided that you want 2,000 - 5,000 boxes and you have 12-16 weeks to develop your project then we look forward to working with you. After 60+ years collective experience in developing all types of packaging, here are some useful tips to consider. 

  1. Consider Your Budget - Think carefully about how much you want, or have available to spend on packaging - they are often two different answers! The boxes we offer as shown in our various image galleries are called 'paper over board'. This term means they are produced using a thick, rigid base board and then the custom printed paper is hand glued over the surface. It is fair to say our boxes are aimed at the luxury market and as a rough guideline our boxes will likely cost you upwards of £2.00 each depending on your size and exact specifications. It's possible you would love your own gift box but if your product is relatively low cost and you are unable to recover the cost of the packaging in your end selling price, or the box cost exceeds the cost of your product, then you may need to look at a much lower cost option. Think carefully about how and if high quality gift packaging will add value to your product range and as a result will increase your sales. 
  2. Shape - We can produce both rigid gift boxes or folding gift boxes. The folding variety (similar to our stock boxes) offer advantages of lower shipping and storage costs but obviously there are limitations on the shape you can produce. You are basically limited to oblong and square shapes because the sides fold into the middle. If you are looking for a round hat box, drawer box or an unusual shape, then this can only be achieved with a completely rigid construction. Consider first what shape best suits your products but also consider how and where the boxes will be stored before you pack your products inside. How will the finished gift pack be displayed by your retailer or end customer and how will the box be used by your customer after your products have been removed/used? For example, a large rigid box with rounded corners, or a round hat box may seem like a good idea and look lovely, but if you need to store the boxes for a long period of time rather than using them all immediately for a single promotional activity, you may incur high storage costs. In addition you will be shipping and storing 'fresh air' and your end customer may not be able to maximise their shelf space with an unusually shaped box. If you are looking to pack a variety of different product combinations, then be sure the box shape and size suits all your options, or as many as possible, before you look to develop different sizes.
  3. How are you & your customers using the boxes? What are you packing inside the boxes? If you are packing heavy products such as chutneys and wine then a heavier-than-usual base board may be required, so be sure to tell us what type of products you are packing inside. Do you need an insert to hold your products in place, or do the products need extra protection from damage or breakage? We can supply all types of internal fitments from die-cut foam to vacuum formed trays. An understanding of your product will help us advise on the best solution. Remember that specific inserts limit the product combinations you can achieve, although we can split your insert quantity over different insert designs/configurations. Ribbon ties look lovely on boxes but consider who will be packing your products and who is responsible for tying the bows nicely! Is the box being opened and closed multiple times? In that case you may want to consider a magnetic flap closure with a non-functional decorative ribbon/bow. If you are selling heavy products, or perhaps a dress or clothing, then a handle might be a useful addition so your customers can carry the box with contents easily.  
  4. Size Matters! We definitely need to know how big the box needs to be as well as its profile. Does it open along the longest edge with the opening at the front, or does it open like a book? We need to know the length, width and depth. If you have an image or sketch that will helps us too.  Please be aware that paper over board style gift boxes can be heavy, especially on very big sizes. If you are looking for a large hamper box then paper over board boxes may not be your best option for cost or weight. If you are looking to keep courier costs to a minimum then be aware of the possible weight issue unavoidably associated with very large boxes. You may be better considering a corrugated gift box option, which we can also help you with.
  5. Print Options. Our base colour paper is white, so if you want a solid colour background (blue perhaps) and your logo is white then this is still a single colour print, even with your own logo. We can print a simple 1 colour logo or up to full colour process (like a photograph) plus additional special colours. We always use Pantone references (PMS) for colour matching. Print options also include spot UV varnish. This makes certain selected areas of the design glossy. We can also foil block logos or designs in a variety of colours. Foil blocking doesn't have to just be silver or gold, there are now lots of great colours available. We can add an all-over gloss or matte lamination or use a machine varnish. In addition to printing we can also emboss logos or designs. See our bespoke page for ideas.  
  6. Product Visibility - Do you need your customers to see your products inside the box? If the answer is yes then you will need a clear window, probably to the lid. Be sure to allow a minimum of 30mm of card around the window so the card area is not too weak and easy to crease. If not, consider how you will communicate the contents to your customers and how important it is. Closed boxes with hidden contents often look sleeker but in a retail environment there is nothing worse than customers opening up boxes to see the contents (they never close them properly again!) resulting in a messy retail display.   
  7. Distribution Are you a mail order company? Do you have a retail shop or multiple stores? Are people collecting the gift pack and taking it away, or is it delivered to their home? If you are mail order company then you will not only be looking at a gift box but it will need to be packed into a further mailing carton. We are able to supply these too. Think about the weight of your finished gift pack and the likely courier costs your customers may need to pay. Be careful not to end up with a box inside a box inside a box that will cost a fortune to deliver! If you have a retail shop or multiple stores then where will the boxes be stored? In a retail environment folding boxes are by far the best option. Why take up valuable floor space storing packaging when you need it for your products? Make sure the person responsible for making up the box, packing the contents and adding any decorations (such as ribbons) can do so as quickly and easily as possible. We can offer accessories such as elasticated ribbon bands with pre-tied and fitted bows so your sales team can offer a gift wrapping service without creating a flustered sales assistant and a frustrated customer queue out the door!
  8. Contrast - Simple is often best. Creating a contrasted effect by using combinations of texture is often more eye-catching and elegant than elaborate multi-coloured print colours. The same plain solid colour using matte and gloss finishes combined together works well. Consider a print patterned box body with solid plain colour sides. Plain colour textured paper combined with smooth or with a printed design looks great. Consider the ribbon you use, satin and grosgrain are the most common but custom printed ribbon with your own logo can really add that special finishing touch. Consider using a bright multi-coloured ribbon as a feature on a plain box, together with just a simple embossed logo, the effect can look fantastic and without getting too complicated with a printed design, or the need to hire a designer.   
  9. Brand Values - Does your packaging reflect your brand values? If your values are all about classic simplicity then keep the packaging simple. If your focus is on eco-friendly or organic then reflect this in your packaging by using earthy tones, natural finishes and cotton ribbons. If you have a high-quality product with a high-end price, then be sure your packaging reflects your customers' expectations before they even see your product.   
  10. Consistent & Contemporary - Be sure your new gift box sits well with your current or future packaging plans. If the box you are creating is the only packaging you will have then you have greater flexibility but be sure it will work in the future. If you plan to revise your branding or update your logo then remember to take this into account. The boxes you develop now won't be available for three months, so think ahead as to where your brand might be. It may sound like a contradiction but keep the packaging as generic as possible. This ensures you get as much flexibility as possible for your various product combinations. For instance, if you have both male and female product combinations, try a generic colour such as silver and use ribbons as a separate addition so the male version doesn't look too feminine. Avoid predominantly white boxes if your product is likely to be in a retail environment with customers handling the boxes, they will get dirty from finger marks and very dusty. Avoid seasonal designs even if Valentine's Day or Christmas is your biggest selling period. Your packaging needs to look contemporary no matter what the season. If you do have seasonal selling opportunities then think about producing a separate over-sleeve that could carry your seasonal message but that can be removed or swapped if the boxes are left over past the key selling period.   

Blaire Taylor
Blaire Taylor


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