DIY Surprise “Exploding” Photo Album For Mother’s Day

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HallmarkForMom #CollectiveBias

This beautiful exploding photo album looks like a paper box but it's actually a surprise! So easy to make. The perfect #MothersDay gift! #HallmarkForMom #ad

Honestly. This. It’s this. What I’m about to show you is SO COOL and SO MUCH fun! I wouldn’t let you down!

photo album

I think you probably know by now about my awesome mom. My mom has been an artist/art teacher for about 40 years now. She expresses her thoughts, opinions, experiences and DREAMS through art. I used to be her art assistant and I’ve taken note of the projects the kids really took to the most, and I use them with my own kids. It amazes me how imaginative they are.


Mother’s Day is sort of my jam. And I loved it long before I became a mom, but I’ll never forget that first Mother’s Day when I was pregnant with Scarlet. Cassidy gave me a surprise box! He decorated the outside of a beautiful box and filled the inside with ultrasound and maternity pictures. I was already about eight months along at that point, and had accumulated quite a bit of baby “souvenirs.” I loved his meaningful way of presenting them to me, and he also gave me a gorgeous card.

We will definitely circle back to that a few times!

gifts for Mother's Day

Also, you know that I’m a greeting card girl. I love to peruse the Hallmark Signature cards to pick out the PERFECT cards for any occasions – and sometimes it’s just to say, “I’m thinking about you!” Aren’t random greeting cards the best?? This isn’t random, though. My grandmother lived to age 100, and we’d send her a card and a plant every year. This year I nod my head to every wonderful mother I know – but mainly my sisters, sister-in-law, mom, and two mothers-in-law. My mom has always loved surprise boxes – big or little boxes filled with individually wrapped gifts. You never know what you’re going to get!

surprise box

She was visiting over the weekend and even though this is a gift for her, I used her amazing diligence and art direction. You’ll see her hands in some of the photos! Those are incredible hands – they have been making art for many decades. She helped me with the overall construction of the project – a surprise photo album disguised as a pretty paper box – but she didn’t see the final touches! The kids and I worked hard to pick out prints, cut them, glue them, and apply stickers, writing, and washi tape. They also helped to pick out Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards from Walmart. There’s an incredible selection:

Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards

Hallmark Signature Mother’s Day cards

So what do you make for the special mother in your life? How about an “exploding” photo album? It will be a big surprise to her, and she’ll be able to show off awesome photos of her family with this neat, pretty box. It’s portable and full of surprises!

I suggest a small gift on the inside, along with the photo album, and then a Hallmark Signature card on the outside!

Mother's Day

DIY Mother's Day gifts


This beautiful exploding photo album looks like a paper box but it's actually a surprise! So easy to make. The perfect #MothersDay gift! #HallmarkForMom #ad

What You Need:

4-6 pretty pieces of 12″ x 12″ thick cardstock (two for extra, just in case)
Pencil, Ruler, Scissors, glue stick, X-ACTO blade or something similar
A bunch of your favorite photo prints – go crazy for the mom in your life
Patience, diligence, creativity, and help. Help is always good for DIY projects

What You Do:

1 – Start with the outermost layer, and use a pretty paper! We used flowers for ours! Mark your paper with your ruler every 4″ along the border. Then connect your marks with straight lines. The ruler is important for this part! It will look like a checkerboard when it’s done. This might have been the most time-consuming part of the project. I had help!

DIY art projects

photo album

2 – Now, make your “walls” of your box. Cut off the four corners of your “checkerboard” so that you’re left with this:

Mother's Day

3 – Fold your paper to create four walls, and make sure the pretty side is showing as the outside.

Mother's Day gifts

4 – Now you’re making the inner layers. Layers! That’s what this is all about – to get that “exploding” part of the box. The layers will hold all your gorgeous photos. You’re going to make middle layers that are identical to the first one, but the measurements will get smaller each time. Get it? They all have to fit in each other! So trim your middle layer cardstock to 10.5″ x 10.5″. Then, mark your paper at ever 3.5″ all around the border to create a checkerboard like the 4″ one, but smaller!

gifts for Mom

5 – Cut the corner and fold it into the first one! For the third inner layer, trim your paper to 9″ x 9″, and create your checkerboard with 3″ marks. Cut your corners again and fold up your walls. You should now have three layers.

Mother's Day

Hallmark Signature

6 – Lastly, make your lid. Trim your final piece of cardstock/paper to about 6″ x 6″. Create a 1″ border around all four sides of the stock. Start at the bottom right corner of your cardstock and cut a vertical line up the horizontal line to make a “flap.”

Do this to every corner. There should be four, obviously.

Hallmark Signature Greeting Cards

7 – Fold the cardstock along the inner border to create the sides of your box lid. You’ll have to glue your flaps to the sides. A final step would be to glue the bottoms of the layers together so the layers all fit nicely together and aren’t loose.

Greeting Cards for Mother's Day

8 – Here’s the fun part. Glue decorations. Cut up prints. Glue on prints. Make your photo album!

DIY Mother's Day crafts

DIY Mother's Day crafts

DIY Mother's Day crafts

9 – Make it so uniquely YOU! Stickers, ribbons, bows, expressive photos!

10 – Don’t forget to pick out a special Hallmark Signature card to accompany this photo album. Mother’s Day = Covered. There is nothing like sending a paper card and your loved one gets to hold it in her hands and know you picked it out just for her! You wrote in it just for her! Hallmark offers a wide range of gorgeous cards at Walmart. From Seasonal to Special Occasions, there’s a card for everything and everyone. The countdown is on! We have 16 days until Mother’s Day! That’s it!

Once again, Walmart is featuring a collection of NEW Hallmark Signature cards for Mother’s Day. This line of premium, handcrafted greeting cards will make you happy. I had a lot of fun picking out three special ones for moms in my life:

Mother's Day

Hallmark Signature

Hallmark Signature

Hallmark Signature

Lastly, Des demonstrates how to “surprise” the Mom in your life with an exploding photo album:

Want additional digital coupon offers and Mother’s Day inspiration? Then click here for savings!

digital coupons

And are you looking for that special card to speak to your heart? Be dazzled here.

Happy Photo Album Making!


On a side note, remember the clothing store 5-7-9? If you came here looking for info about it, I found this.

On another side note, Des and I went on a big Thursday adventure today to a mall in Connecticut where we did some damage to our wallets at Disney Store and Lush, and we boosted the economy. So what can I say, except “You’re Welcome.”

5-7-9(What can I say except that this photo of Des looks more like me than any other photo I’ve ever seen, so what does that say about me? About my tongue? About my love for Grateful Dead bears? This is me!)

What can I say except, I haven’t done that sort of mall shopping trip in a long time. And we had gift cards. Not that I need to explain myself, but man, that used to be a lifestyle thing and now it’s maybe once a year – if I’m lucky? There was even a latte involved. And I wore a dress and a jean jacket. The sun didn’t come out, but what can you say, except “You’re Welcome.” (clearly that Moana song is in my head) We’ve been geeking out on all things Pixar’s Cars. I’m OBSESSED.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

I’m someone who’s currently obsessed with Cars, you’re welcome. I hope it lasts. I’m someone who’s a lot of things, mulling a lot of things, considering more than one thing in more than one category, dreaming about tons of things, and I’m someone who’s prone to mood changes throughout the day – elevations and de-elevations. Peaks and rises. My temperament is rather mild, but the emotions inside are affected by everything – including the weather. Or rather, MOSTLY the weather. And too many emails, or lack of emails. Too much work, or not enough work. Too many feels, too many fears, not even tears – when I need them. I’m someone who wears red dresses on random Tuesdays, but doesn’t know how to apply makeup to save my life.

*Unless it’s lipgloss and/or mascara. Then, lives can be saved.


I’m someone who can probably do a lot of things, if I put my mind to it, but I’m someone who never believes I can do anything – until I do it. And then it’s not like it’s consistent and I get it and I gain that notch of confidence/experience forever. No, my confidence and beliefs are prone to the same elevations and de-elevations, and peaks and rises that my mood is. It’s just life.

It’s all connected.

This post is about all the things I’m not, though. And I spend a lot of my life proving myself wrong about things I thought I couldn’t do, and things I didn’t think I was. What I’m not, is someone who can roll with the punches. I can adapt, but it’s not an easy transition. It’s like when I walk into someone’s house at any point between November and April, and they say, “Take off your coat and stay awhile!” And I say, “I will, but it takes me awhile to adjust!” Who can argue with that? I can’t.

I take my coat off eventually, on my own time.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

All the things I’m not.. is someone who can roll with punches. I feel things in my stomach, by long route from my heart. It’s the shifting seasons. It’s putting down a deposit at the movie theater for Des’ 5th birthday. It’s Scarlet being so very 7. It’s my marriage being 9. See? 5-7-9. It’s hanging up Scarlet’s dresses – because she can’t yet reach the top of her closet.

It’s lost baby teeth in a tooth box necklace from the school nurse. It’s Scarlet taking showers now – washing and combing her own hair – and putting on a bathrobe “because it feels kinda awesome.” It’s the fact that just last week, I still gave her a bath and carried her “like a baby” into her bedroom because that’s what she likes. Now I do that with Des, but then I help him into 5T pajamas, because the 4T clothes look like a flood is coming. Kindergarten is coming. Freaking kindergarten.

With my youngest starting kindergarten in the fall, and my oldest losing her first tooth, I'm really feeling the ripples of change #life #love #FTSF #family

Des being 5. Scarlet being SO 7. Our marriage being 9, with no nine-year itch. I realize it’s the seven-year itch but I didn’t have it then. I’m just perpetually itchy. I get itchy from odd years and odd milestones. Adult teeth rising behind baby teeth.

Something so adult and permanent on my first baby!

There are many adult things. She has opinions – strong and smart ones – about politics and God. Equality and equity. (although she’s totally fine if she gets 30% more chocolate eggs in her Easter basket than her brother.) She can throw out some quick, theoretical punches. Life is full of these gut punches. Sometimes I roll with them, but some are too big, too one after the other, and too heavy/heady, heady/heavy. These are my struggles, and life will never stop happening – in quick, punching succession – but maybe I’ll be quicker on my feet with time. Maybe the punches won’t go right to my head and to my gut.

Maybe I’ll learn to take them, and maybe I’ll learn how to give a good one right back.

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “All the things I’m not…” And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

Do you roll with punches? Did you shop at 5-7-9?