31 Organize this: DIY Planner Covers, Tabs & Dividers (made with Cereal Boxes)

Black and White Obsession | Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.)

I’ve been on the hunt for the PERFECT Filofax A5-Half Letter Size planner for ages. Over the last year after becoming a full time blogger, I knew I need something to help me organize my gazillion blog thoughts. Because let’s face it, sticky notes weren’t cutting it:
Black and White Obsession | Sticky Notes Everywhere |Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.)
Sadly that’s only a quarter of my sticky note collection on any given day.

Now, don’t get me wrong there are tons of fantastic blogger planners out there however, I noticed I wanted a piece from this one a piece and from that one, a change here and a change there. Add half sizes and full sizes into the mix, and my planner would look like a chaotic mess. That or cross-eyed from all the patterns/colors etc.

Ultimately, I decided to create my own from scratch (which is now available here). By the time I was done compiling all the pages, I realized that I wanted to complete the ‘look’ by DIY’ing the Covers, Tabs and Sections. Heck if I could reuse some materials lying round it’d make the planner even more perfect.

Now my good friends who run the Silhouette Challenge, who help give a swift kick in the rear to produce fantastic projects with our beloved machine, decided to theme the projects this year:
Black and White Obsession |Silhouette Challenge Themes for 2014
Being that January is all about organization, it was time to get creative my friends. After reading that it’s possible to use Cereal Boxes with the Silhouette machines, as opposed to locating chipboard around my neck of the woods, it was time to roll up the sleeves and get these fingas dirty.

For those of you without a silhouette machine, you can achieve similar results with a paper cutter (using the dimensions below) and an X-Acto knife. You could even omit the hexagons and skip to painting & doodling all over your covers.

*Files included in this tutorial are for Silhouette Cameo users, Portrait users may require file modification.

**If you don’t have sketch pens, I have the perfect Silhouette Blade Hack for you.

Black and White Obsession | Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.) Instructions

  1. Collect and trim food boxes.
    • I used four pizza boxes, four cereal boxes. The three smaller boxes (like crackers and other snacks) were used as scrap. I found that pizza boxes were perfect because they’re already 12x12 inches.
    • If you can save six pizza boxes (plus a few extras in case of error), the project can be completed faster/more efficiently.
  2. Download the Free Silhouette Files.
    • Covers 5.875 x 8.875 inches worked well with cereal boxes.
    • Monthly dividers 5.510 x 8.5 inches worked well with either cereal boxes or pizza boxes. hexagons
    • Folder dividers total dimension: 8.925 x 11.445 inches worked best with pizza boxes (since they measure in at just under 12 inches).
    • Tags 6.610 x 10.085 inches can be adjusted to fit almost any size box- simply split the file if necessary. Please be sure your Sketch Pen and Cut file match exactly. Also, there’s two files- one for cutting and one for sketching tab titles. *please see #5 before cutting this file!!
    • Gluing guide for even tab spacing and folder assembly.
  3. Tape food boxes to the Silhouette Mat using painters tape.
    • We’re addicted to Frog tape not only for painting but for projects like these. The durability of other brands doesn’t even compare.
  4. Load your cutting mat and begin cutting.
    • Be sure to complete a few test cuts, using your food box trimmings/scraps, to see what works for your blade (dull vs. new) and machine climate (humid, cold, etc.).
    • UPDATE: I used the "Coverstock Heavy- 105 lb to 122 lb" setting and had to crank up the blade depth to the full 10 to make my cut. Now, like mentioned above, please test cut first- you could cut through your mat or break your blade if not careful. I blame the blade setting strictly on the unbearably cold temperatures up here in the 'nort (EVERYONE's furnace had a hard time keeping up).
    • Please see #5 before running the tabs through the Silhouette.
  5. Lightly sand the photo side and paint both sides of the cardboard.
    • Use a hand sander to lightly scuff up the photo side of the boxes.
    • The cardboard you set aside specifically for the Tabs should be painted before running through the silhouette, since they require both a sketch pen and a cut. This is the only time where the ‘photo side’ down is appropriate so be sure to leave room for slight tearing.
  6. Glue.
    • Crease the folder ‘tabs’ along the perforations.
    • Adhere the tabs to the monthly dividers using the gluing guide, included with your download).
  7. Decorate, assemble the planner covers, and add features.
    • Get creative, here folks, the sky’s the limit! See below for additional ways to embellish.
To save you from scrolling, here’s how mine turned out:
Black and White Obsession | Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.)

Black and White Obsession | Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.) | Do different next time? Paint these tabs a contrasting color.

What I would have done differently:
Paint the ‘tabs’ a different color besides white to make them stand out.

Black and White Obsession | Cutting with Cardboard: Picture side up. | + Ways to Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.)

Tips when cutting cereal boxes with your Silhouette:
  • Placing the cardboard with the picture side up makes cutting easier. I found when cutting with the photo side down, most cuts didn’t slice all the way through the cardboard. In turn, it increased the chance of tearing the cardboard. This creates an un-even surface which results in an unpleasant, wonky paint job. Bonus: you can re-use some tape, since it’s a larger project and no one wants to run out of supplies mid-project, because the picture’s smooth texture pretty much peels away effortlessly.
  • Since these boxes are one of the thickest materials compatible with the silhouette, I recommend new/new-ish blades.
  • This project allows you to use those old mats, the less sticky the better, since you’re taping the boxes and little cardboard schnibbles end up all over the place anyway.
  • If you find your blade isn’t cutting all the way through (maybe you have frigid cold temperatures) don’t be afraid to run each piece through another time- which results in a 4x cut (since the double cut setting is already selected). Note: DO NOT UNLOAD or remove the project from the mat so it cuts exactly on top. You can verify if the cut worked by slightly raising any corner of the cut piece.
Black and White Obsession | Organize your DIY Planner. How to make Covers, Tabs & Dividers using Food Boxes (like Cereal boxes, Pizza boxes, etc.) | Additional ways to make your planner ‘you.’

Additional ways to decorate your planner:
  1. In my quest for the perfect planner, I found a neat bookmarking feature I’ve seen with many great journals. You know, that little band thingy that marks where you left off, of course there’s a technical term but I haven’t quite found it?
    • I basically followed this super simple tutorial (scroll to 2:05). Instead of hunting for elastic or waiting for a shipment, I substituted one elastic headband, trimming off the metal clasp, from an eight pack at the $1 store. Use whacha, got right?!
  2. For the cover of my planner, I used another Black and White Obsession Freebie: New Year’s Eve Ball Drop Invitation because I’m infatuated with Hexagons. A few slight modifications were necessary with some creative ‘welding’ within Silhouette Studio. Simply pick corresponding colors then adhere and coat with mod podge (for durability).
  3. Use the print and cut feature available with the Silhouette software, to create pieces that fit your style.
  4. If you’re like me and even your stick people look wonky, use sketch pens + the internet to your advantage.
  5. Try glitter, because everything is better with glitter.
  6. Hand-draw patterns, optical illusions, etc.
    • Use a ruler if you despise your shaky hands.
  7. Wrap the pieces with wrapping paper or scrapbook paper and mod podge on top.
  8. Choose fabric that matches your personality and adhere with spray adhesive. Then cover with a few layers of mod podge.
The full planner pieces took me a couple hours over a few days and was totally worth it for a customized Planner.

How would you decorate your planner?

Want to check out more Silhouette Projects created by yours truly? Click here. Can't get enough blog challenges? Click here

Want to Check Out More Silhouette Projects?

My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!

  1. DIY Window Shutter Mail Organizer by Weekend Craft
  2. Kids' Art Wall by Tried & True
  3. Organizing Silhouette and Craft Supplies by The Happier Homemaker
  4. Simple Recipe Organization by It's Always Craft Time
  5. Put a Label on it! Herb Names for Plant Stakes by Get Silvered
  6. Super Simple Linen Closet Labels by Two Purple Couches
  7. Beware of the Animals Vinyl Toy Box by A Tossed Salad Life
  8. Child desk accessories by Architecture of a Mom
  9. Organizing & the Important of Labels by The Turquoise Home
  10. Index Card Organizer for Easier Meal Planning by Chicken Scratch NY
  11. Create Craft Room Labels by Dragonfly & Lilypads
  12. Simple Storage Solution for your Christmas Ornaments by Vintage News Junkie
  13. Organize this: DIY Planner Covers, Tags & Dividers (made with Cereal Boxes) by Black and White Obsession (you're here)
  14. How to Make a Cut File into a Print & Cut by Create & Babble
  15. Simple Chest Freezer Organizational Board by Nearly Handmade
  16. Vinyl Your Kitchen Canisters! by From Wine to Whine
  17. Nursery Closet Dividers & Silhouette Cut File by Creative Ramblings
  18. Make Custom Box Templates with a Silhouette for Drawer Organization by One Dog Woof
  19. Organizing the Craft Room by What's Next Ma
  20. Vinyl Wall Calendar by Crafts Cakes and Cats
  21. Personalized Toy Storage Bins by Lil' Mrs. Tori
  22. Personalized Routine Chart by Work in Progress
  23. Blog Planner Sheet Dividers + Free Cut Files by TitiCrafty by Camila
  24. Simple Project Calendar by Little Blue's Room
  25. Dry Erase Photo Frame Menu Board + Free Cut File by Essentially Eclectic
  26. Receipt Organization with Free Cut File by The Thinking Closet
  27. Cute and Easy Labels by Life After Laundry
  28. "What's For Dinner?" Menu Planning Board by unOriginal Mom
  29. Mixing Organization and Function: An Easy Conversion Chart by My Paper Craze
  30. Why do my cookies taste so bad? A lesson in baking. by The Life and Times of a TAP
  31. Custom Drawer Dividers by Please Excuse My Craftermath...
  32. The evolution of my labeling system by feto soap
  33. Ikea Drawer labels by McCall Manor
  34. Glass Etched Vinegar  & Oil bottles by Terri Johnson Creates
  35. Organize It: Bathroom Closet by The House on Hillbrook
  36. Ombre Butterfly Magnet Board by Sowdering About



  1. Yes for personalization! Everything is better when it reflects you! What a great step by step for working with cardboard boxes (and don't I love that we get a peek in your pantry!). Isn't it great when you can re-use a cut file that you spent time making? I too am on the hex train. More hexes for everyone! Oh, and I love the little speech bubble dividers, so cute!

  2. How cool Trisha!!! This is such classy looking planner! I can't wait to see the planner pages for it!

    1. Thanks girl!! I've had computer glitches all weekend so here's to hoping they clear up so I can get 'acrackin! haha

  3. Awesome! Thank you for the instructions! I didn't know we could cut cereal boxes! I'm #22 on the challenge list. :)

    1. Hello D,

      So glad you stopped by! Yeah, I had to look around and experiment a bit, but it's definitely possible!!

      I'm planning on visiting everyone's projects this evening! Cannot wait to be inspired!

      Much love,
      Trisha D.

  4. I'm working on creating my own planner--this is perfect inspiration for the covers!

    1. Great minds huh Rachel! Thanks for stopping by, glad to inspire!!

      Have a lovely day,
      Trisha D.

  5. Seriously, cereal boxes??? I love learning all the things I can do with my Silhouette from the awesome ideas of others. This is great!

    1. Yes cereal boxes. And even better: Pizza Boxes as they're already 12x12. The possibilities may be endless with the Silhouette!!

      Thanks for stopping by Angela!!

  6. Wow! I've been on the fence trying to decide if I should spend the money on a Silhouette and you may have just tipped me over the edge! Awesome idea!

    1. Hi Melissa,

      So glad you could stop by! It's totally completely worth the investment. If you want to try your luck I'm hosting a Silhouette Giveaway at the end of this month!!

      Much Love,
      Trisha D.

  7. I like this, much more enticing to use and get organised with , it's planner and inspiration/ideas journal all rolled into one. - really great,

    1. Thanks GetSilvered! It was a lot of fun to make. So glad you stopped by!

  8. Oooooh I didn't know I could cut cereal boxed there! How did you know which setting to use? I would love to give it a try! it's a super cute craft. Pinning!


    1. Hi Cami,

      Thanks for your question, I actually made an update to the post!! As far as knowing what cut setting to use- I started off with one I found as a recommendation across the web which was: "Coverstock Heavy- 105 lb to 122 lb."

      When I completed a 'test cut' on a scrap piece of cardboard (which was the side of the box), I made adjustments until it cut successfully. I ended up cranking the blade depth to the full 10 to make my cut. Now, like mentioned in the post, please test cut first- you could cut through your mat or break your blade if not careful. The cold temperatures that week could have a lot to do with it's cutting capabilities!

      Hope that helps!

      Much Love,
      Trisha D.

  9. What a great personalized binder! Things I love about this project:
    Cutting cereal boxes? Genius! (Plus, we get a tiny peek into your pantry)
    Reusing shapes you've created - best thing ever!
    The little speech bubble tabs - so cute!

    Thanks so much for sharing it with us!

    1. You just melted my heart Kristy!! So glad you picked up on the small details. Yeah we eat some odd combinations. Although, I did score a few boxes from the MIL during the holidays.

      Those speech bubbles actually match the Free S.M.A.R.T. Goal setting worksheet http://bit.ly/1a68sk0. So everything ties together nicely with the Planner: http://bit.ly/1kD7DsX

      The beau always gives me the stink-eye when I leave someone's house with more 'junk.'

  10. I love everything about this project but ESPECIALLY those beautiful covers!

    1. Thanks Vanessa! It was a labor of love but totally worth it in the end. Really appreciate you stopping by!

  11. Now I don't feel so bad about my eating habits. :) Pizza, flat bread, crackers, cereal. I feel right at home! By the way, the blog rocks. This just puts it even that much more over the top.

    1. Yay CRahn is back, or at least popped in!! Wahoo!

      I knew you'd find a way to make me smile. I love, love, love it when people look into the photos further. Funny thing is some of those boxes were from the MIL during the holidays. Somehow she never gives me the eyebrow leaving her house with random 'trash.' ha!

  12. Love your planner and thanks for the cut file!

    1. Hi Glenna,

      Thank you for the kind words! You're very welcome, hope you can put them to good use!

      Much Love,
      Trisha D.

  13. I love planners so of course I love this! Thanks for all of the great ideas!

    1. Hi Krista,

      Thank you so much for stopping by!! Aren't planners simply the BEST?!

      You're very welcome, hope they've inspired!

      Much love,
      Trisha D.

  14. Cereal boxes!! LOVE it! I will never be able to throw away another cereal box now! I love "free" supplies! Thank you so much for taking the time to put together this great post!

    1. Awe thank you so much Janice!! Free supplies have a special place in my heart! It's hard to throw away things that make perfect future projects. I think the beau has finally decided it's not worth the trouble to ask why I'm saving weird stuff and gives me a little corner in the basement for projects such as this!!

  15. This is an adorable project in and of itself, but I really like that it's a green project!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Emily! I was really excited to re-use a lot of materials. Now just to find recycled paper next year...

  16. Okay, you are blowing my mind right now with this awesomeness, Trisha. I love everything from the modern yet playful design to your recycled materials to the reflecting in your post on what you'd do differently. SO. MUCH. LOVE. And I'm such a bum for not meandering over here to see it until now. So glad you posted a link to the pin in our Haven group! #youremyhero

  17. This sounds like SO much fun!!!! You have inspired me. No box will be safe in my home! Thank you so much for the great ideas!


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