Pop up cards are a brilliant reinvention of the regular greeting cards first popularized in the 1950’s. Today, more than $7 billion worth of greeting cards are bought each year worldwide. Greeting card companies mass produce a huge percentage of these pop up cards while a segment is still handmade by craftspeople.

Unlike other other greeting card designs, pop up card making requires some serious skills especially when traditional artistic practices like origami and kirigami are incorporated into a card project. An individual also needs to understand how paper engineering works to make sure that all card elements pop up.

In this feature article, we will help provide some tips on how to effortlessly make your first pop up greeting card. You will also find fifteen (yes, 15!) pop up cards that have been made and used by real people included in this comprehensive list. Scan through them if you are looking for some card design inspiration and determine which ones you can give out for the next holidays or which ones you may try to create on your own.

Benefits of Using Pop Up Greeting Cards

The first modern day greeting cards were used as a way to send messages of welcome, kindness, and/or sending a helping hand. They used to be written in premium cardstock that is folded in the middle and with a sentiment written on the inner fold. This basic design and format still apply to pop up cards design today. However, pop up cards added an oomph into the entire thing using, well, a pop up mechanism.

What people first thought of as an amusing addition to generic professional thank you cards is now considered a cult trend in the crafting world. Pop up cards simply give a new take into things which, in effect, make them more effective for everyday use. Listed below are the main reasons why you should create and use pop up cards:

  • It’s shows your creativity! Crafting your own pop up greeting cards allows you to use your artistic side. And even if you do not intend to sell your work, the simple task of thinking of craft projects can help you achieve mental calm. People seeing your completed projects may also see another side that not many people notice.
  • It’s surprises the recipient. Well, of course. The main reason why pop up cards became popular was the burst of artistry and wittiness that most people will not expect from a piece of craft paper. In a fast paced world, receiving handmade greeting cards is much more appreciated.
  • It’s more sincere. In line with the previous reason, making your own pop up cards comes off as being more sincere compared with sending emails or direct messages through social media. Sending personalized pop up cards shows to the recipients that you truly care since you took the time to come up with this kind of gift for them and even more time make the project.
  • It’s humorous. The most memorable pop up cards are the ones with funny imagery and witty sentiments written on them. In the digital age, memes have also made their way into pop up greeting cards. This makes the whole thing more appealing to their senders and recipients alike.
  • It can serve as memorabilia. An added benefit of making and receiving pop up greeting cards is that they can be used as memorabilia due to their unique designs. If you create personalized pop up cards, these cards will likely be the only version in existence (unless you mass produce and sell them). Recipients of pop up cards will also treasure these cards more than any letter or gifted object that they have received.
  • It can help relieve stress. Different people have different ways relieve stress. Some do it through exercise, some through binge eating. But for some, crafting is a healthier and more productive way of relieving stress. While you are cutting and pasting paper pop up elements, your mind concentrates on the task at hand and you tend to forget (at least temporarily) the stressful things in your life.
  • It can help retain customers for business entities. Businesses who use pop up greeting cards as a way to communicate with their customers may create a more positive bond with them. It is a unique way of making sure your customers know that you care.

Finding Inspiration for Your Pop Up Card

A good pop up card design is all about your vision. What do you want your card to look like? What materials do you have? What paper mechanics techniques can you apply to help achieve the desired effect/s? Do you want to personally craft these cards and design handmade cards that pop up? You need to consider all these before you lay your hand on that sheet of paper and pair of scissors.

But sometimes, it can be difficult to think all about these things in one go. Ideas need refinement and before you could even do that, you need to have the right ideas as well. Just like in any art form, card making requires you to go deeper and search through the inner workings of your soul for that bead of inspiration. It doesn’t have to sound that somber. Really.

Here are different tips on how to find inspiration when designing your own pop up cards and how to keep the creativity flowing:

  • It’s not a competition. Remember that your goal is not to give away the best or most artistic greeting card ever. You should aim on just making one particular recipient (whether a friend, loved one, or relative) happy or at least appreciate that someone else remembered them. When your mind is set on this small aim, you become freer in coming up of ideas for your pop up card.
  • Who will receive your Pop Up Card? Often, the best way to find inspiration when creating any greeting card design is to picture who you are giving the greeting card to. Think about the person who will receive the card. What does he/she like? Would he/she appreciate a personalized pop up card? Will it surprise him/her? Will a pop up card make him/her happy?
  • What is the occasion? Another aspect that will help you think more clearly about your pop up card design is the time or occasion when you will be giving the card. Deciding what occasion the is for will help you narrow down some design choices. You will no longer be using or incorporating Christmas elements in your card if you are creating a Valentine’s Day pop up card.
  • Browse through Pinterest or other design-centered sites. When looking for card design inspiration online, make sure to check sites that carefully curates its topics. Excellent examples are Pinterest and Etsy. If it is your first time creating a pop up card, you can choose to replicate the simple card designs first. For experienced crafters, you can follow or take inspiration from more complication card projects.
  • Have fun! Crafting artistic greeting card designs is all about having fun in expressing yourself and as a form of stress relief. You do not even need to give away your completed pop up cards if you don’t want to. You may keep it as a memorabilia and as a testament of your ongoing path to wellness.
  • Incorporate your interests and other medium. Even if you are giving out the pop up card to another person, this should not stop you from incorporating other design elements that you personally enjoy. Just like in other art forms, you also have to please yourself. For example, you can use embroidery elements on your card if you like to sew or quilt. As long as these additions help you express the appropriate sentiments on the card without degrading its card’s overall appeal.
  • Make use of the things that you have at home. There is a common misconception among crafters that the right design inspiration will come once you have all those fancy scrapbooking things. This is not true at all. You can create the most visually appealing pop up cards by just using a pair of scissors, a few card stocks, markers, glue, and an active imagination.

How to Make Pop Up Greeting Cards

The key to creating pop up greeting cards (even the most lackluster ones) lies in your ability to intricately apply your knowledge of paper engineering or mechanics in your projects, just like any form of paper artworks. Paper mechanics is the act of folding and/or cutting paper so that it can transform into and host layers of other design elements. The fanciest pop up elements are worth nothing if you do not know how to correctly structure your pop up card base. So, the first step that you should learn and understand before proceeding to serious pop up card crafting is paper mechanics.

For first time learners or those who just want to try out pop up card making, you can follow these basic steps listed below in order to create your first pop up greeting card.

Tools and Materials

  • Tiny cut-out elements, scrapbooking embellishments like buttons, stickers, small flowers, stickers, brads, beads, string, etc
  • Pair of regular scissors and/or pattern edge scissors
  • Markers and pens
  • Double-sided tape or glue
  • Card stock or any high quality paper in contrasting colors


  1. Plan out how your pop up greeting card will look like. You can draw a rough draft version of the card on a separate piece of paper and use this as your guide later on. At the start of each project, you should narrow down your choices if you want to create pop up greeting card following a  regular thank you card design or a retro card design.
  2. Start making the design for your card’s front facing portion. Most pop up cards will feature a minimalist, non-threatening card face so that it can surprise the recipient with its content.
  3. After creating the card face, you should start cutting out the pop up elements. This task will usually be the most labor intensive since you will need to cut out small design elements. Store bought scrapbook stickers and other design elements may also be used if you do not have the time to make the pop up elements.
  4. Now, let’s start with constructing the pop up base. To do this, fold a card stock in half.
  5. To create one basic pop up element, you need to cut out two parallel lines an inch or two into the fold. The length of the cut will depend on the size of the pop up element that you want to mount on the card.
  6. A strip of the card stock is created after you make the two cuts. Push out this strip towards the inside of the card. The extended strip should create a 90 degree angle to ensure that it can act as base properly.
  7. Paste or glue your pop up element/s into one side of the strip (typically the side that is facing you when the card is opened).
  8. If you wish to add other design elements into the card, you can cut into the card stock again and then add more pop up elements.
  9. Now, add more pop up elements and arrangement them accordingly. Consult the draft you have created before you started the project to verify if the card contains all the elements that you planned for.
  10. You may also put stickers or other design elements into the bare section of the card.
  11. The pop up elements will typically be on the middle portion of the card. So you can still write a message or other sentiments on the remaining space.
  12. Test the pop up card if it folds well and whether the pop up elements stays intact when the card is closed and opened.
  13. Now you have your very first pop up greeting card!
  14. If you feel confident enough, you may even monetize this new skill by selling finished pop up cards through sites like Etsy.

Which Pop Up Greeting Card to Use

Deciding what pop up greeting card to use depends on a lot of factors like recipient’s personality, occasion, your personality and preference, availability of craft supplies, budget (if you are buying a pop up card), even your relationship with the recipient, and the message that you want to send to the recipient. Listed below are the different card designs that you can use for inspiration when making your own pop up greeting card. You may also purchase any of the pop up cards if you do not have time to make your own.

Listed below are the fifteen awesome pop up card designs that you can purchase or create on your own:

Beach Pop Up Card

beach kirigami pop up card 1024x768

Cat and Mouse Pop Up Birthday Greeting Card

cat and mouse pop up birthday greeting card 1024x683

Cat Pop Up Greeting Card

cat and giftbox pop up greeting card 1024x934

Bike Pop Up Card

adventure bike pop up card

NERDY Pop Up Card

nerdy pop up card

Father’s Day Pop Up Card in a Box

fathers day pop up card in a box 768x1024

Owl Birthday Cake Pop Up Card

colorful owl birthday cake pop up card 1024x728

Balloons Pop Up Birthday Card

a2 size pop up birthday card

Fairy Pop Up Birthday Card

tinkerbell pop up birthday card 768x1024

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