Are you on the hunt for a unique, personal, and absolutely heartwarming gift idea? Well, you’ve hit the jackpot with our “open when” pill box. Inspired by the classic “open when” letters, I decided to create this adorable and heartfelt gift for my boyfriend’s birthday. But it’s also perfect for Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, Christmas, or any other occasion.
Instead of a full letter, each compartment is filled with a tiny loving note for specific moments, making it a low-key DIY personalized gift for anyone.
Whether your special someone is a traveler about to explore the world or just someone you want to surprise with a thoughtful gesture, this project is a winner. It’s simple, fun to make, and trust me, the emotional payoff is huge.
Let’s jump into how you can create this personalized, pocket-sized bundle of joy and show your love in the most unique way!
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What are open when letters
For those of you who are not familiar with the “open when” concept, let me briefly explain.
The idea comes from “open when” letters where the giver writes a bunch of notes or letters, each labeled for a certain occasion, like “open when you’re sad” or “open on your birthday.”
You give them to someone special, and they get to open each one whenever the right moment pops up. It’s a cool way to be there for them, even when you’re not actually around. Like sending a hug, a laugh, or a high-five through a letter!
You can pick events or emotions or dates when they can open the letters. I’ll give you a full list of over 50 “open when” moments below, but here are some examples to give you an idea.
- Every Monday of the week
- Every first of the month
- On your birthday
- On Christmas Day
- When you miss me
- When you want to laugh
- When you’re angry
What is an “open when” pill box?
Now that you get the idea of “open when” letters, let’s dive into our “open when” box and see how it differs from the letters.
To be honest, they’re pretty similar.
However, the idea of writing several personal letters can be daunting. That’s where the charm of a pill box with concise notes comes in. Each compartment represents a specific moment, but its small size nudges you to write brief messages.
I won’t deny that it still takes some effort to craft a note for each occasion, but these can be much shorter than letters, sometimes just a sentence. This makes the pill box approach more laid-back and user-friendly for anyone.
“Open when” Rules
So, the basic rules of “open when” letters are pretty straightforward. You write a bunch of letters for specific times, like “open when you’re blue” or “open on New Year’s Eve.”
Each one’s meant to be opened only at that moment. You hand them over to someone, and they’re supposed to crack each one open when the time’s right. You may want to agree on only opening one letter at a time and no early peeking.
But hey, it’s your gift to them after all, so you and the recipient can make up the “open when” rules yourself.
Who is an “open when” pill box for?
I’m sorry, I know this is not the most helpful answer. But seriously, you could make this “open when” box for anyone. Whether it’s for your lover, friends, parents, grandparents, or children, anyone could use a little love, and what better way than to read a little note throughout the year?
However, I do think that ‘Open when’ boxes, letters, and whatnot, are best for long distances. So whether it’s your spouse leaving on a trip, for deployment, or work. Your bestie moving away, your child studying abroad, or going to camp, this little box of love is the perfect occasion where you and your loved one are separated.
When can you give an “open when” box?
I gave this box to my boyfriend for his birthday because I would leave for a long-term trip right after his birthday, so this little dose of love would get him through our weeks of separation. But it also works great for other occasions such as
- Valentine’s Day
- Wedding anniversaries
- Farewell parties
- Father or Mother’s Day
- Grandparent’s Day
- Start of the semester
What to write in an “open when” box
Of course, what to write in an ‘open when box’ depends greatly on who the box is for and what type of relationship the two of you have.
I made mine for my boyfriend, so I included some sexy notes in there too. But if you’re making this box for your parents, you may want to pick other moments from the list below.
I would suggest you go through the list and simply choose which ones are best for your recipient.
Open on specific occasions
- When it’s Christmas Day
- When it’s your birthday
- When it’s my birthday
- When it’s New Year’s Eve
- When it’s New Year’s Day (check our funny New Year’s quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Valentine’s Day (check our funny Grandparent quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Father’s Day (check our Funny Father’s Day quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Mother’s Day (check our Funny Mother’s Day quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Grandparent’s Day (check ourGrandparent quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s the first day of Pride Month (check our Funny Pride Month quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s our anniversary (check our Funny anniversary quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Halloween (check our Funny Halloween quotes for inspiration!)
- When it’s Thanksgiving (check our Funny Thanksgiving quotes for inspiration!)
Open when experiencing specific emotions
- When you’re feeling sad
- When you miss me
- When you’re feeling anxious
- When you feel like giving up
- When you’re angry
- When you’re feeling nostalgic
- When you’re feeling adventurous
- When you’re stressed about work or school
- When you’re feeling lonely
- When you’re feeling grateful
- When you’re feeling curious
- When you’re feeling creative
- When you’re feeling hopeful
- When you need a pep talk
- When you’re feeling lost
Open for specific situations
- When you want to read something funny
- When you need motivation
- When you can’t sleep
- When you’ve had a great day
- When you need a reminder of how loved you are
- When you need a confidence boost
- When you need a good laugh
- When you need some inspiration
- When you need advice
- When you want to reminisce about good times
- When it’s a rainy day
- When you need encouragement
- When you need a reality check
- When you want to dream big
- When you need to unwind
- When you need a little mystery
- When you’re celebrating a personal achievement
- When you want to reflect on your goals
- When it’s a beautiful sunny day
Open when you want to know something personal
- When you want to know a secret
- When you want my best movie tip
- When you want a song tip
- When you want a book tip
- When you want my favorite recipe
- When you want to know my favorite memory
Open when ideas for your partner
- When you want to remember a particularly romantic date
- When you’re in the mood for a love story (ours)
- When you’re feeling flirty
- When you need to know what I find most attractive about you
- When you want to recall our most passionate moment
- When you’re thinking about what you love most about our relationship
- When you’re in bed, missing my touch
- When you want a hint for our next romantic getaway
- When you’re curious about my wildest fantasy
- When you want to know what I wear to bed when you’re not around
- When you need a reminder of our most intimate moment
- When you’re thinking about a future together
- When you want a preview of what I’ve planned for our anniversary
- When you’re feeling playful and want a challenge
- When you want to hear about my favorite feature of yours
- When you need a hint about what I want for my next birthday (hint: it’s you)
- When you’re curious about my secret desire
- When you want to know what I think about before I fall asleep
- When you’re dreaming of a lazy morning in bed with me
Open when ideas for friends
- When you need a good old friend’s advice
- When you’re reminiscing about our funniest shared memory
- When you need to be reminded of your strengths
- When you’re feeling homesick
- When you’ve just achieved a personal goal
- When you need a laugh from an inside joke
- When you’re planning your next big adventure
- When you want to remember a crazy night out we had
- When you need a pep talk before a big interview or exam
- When you’re feeling nostalgic about our school days
- When you’re curious about my favorite thing about our friendship
- When you need encouragement to try something new
- When you’re missing our coffee dates
- When you need to be reminded how much you’re valued
- When you’re feeling down and need a virtual hug
- When you want to hear about my latest life update
- When you need a friend’s perspective on a tough decision
- When you want to relive our most epic vacation
- When you need some motivation for your fitness goals
- When you’re curious about where I see us in 10 years
Open when ideas for your (grand)parents
- When you first hear about my travel plans
- When I’m leaving for my journey
- When you miss our daily conversations
- When you’re worried about my safety
- When you want to know about the most amazing place I’ve seen
- When it’s your birthday and I’m far away
- When you’re curious about the food I’m trying
- When you feel proud of my independence
- When you want to hear about the friends I’ve made abroad
- When you need reassurance about my well-being
- When it’s Mother’s/Father’s Day and I’m not there
- When you’re feeling nostalgic about my childhood
- When I’m studying for finals abroad
- When you want a sneak peek of my travel photos
- When you’re excited about my return
- When you want to know what I’ve learned from my travels
- When it’s a significant family anniversary and I’m away
How to make an “open when” pill box
Alright, now that you know everything about “open when” boxes, it’s time to start crafting your very own!
- Paper (or small stickers)
- Sticky tape or glue
- Free “open when” templates (if you want to make it look prettier than I did at the time I gave it to my boyfriend)
- Something to make the label (paper, colorful markers, wrapping paper, or my free template).
I chose a 28-day pill box because I knew I would not see my boyfriend for five weeks, so I wanted him to have something personal from me for the days we were apart. But, you could also choose smaller pill boxes. That way, you don’t have to come up with 28 different personalized answers, which is perfect if you’re restrained on time.
Paper or stickers
I just used paper and scissors to mark each slot with the right occasion. But you could also use square stickers, and write the “open when” occasion on the sticker.
Free “open when” templates
If you to make this gift even prettier, you can use my free “open when” note templates. I’ll be honest though. I just used plain paper because I didn’t have a printer, but I wanted to help you create the most beautiful “open when” box for your loved one, which is why I decided to design these templates too.
You can download the templates here.
Free “open when” label
Besides the note templates, I also decided to make you guys two labels you can print (don’t worry, the actual print doesn’t have my boyfriend’s name on it, but I just added it to show how it would look).
You can download the empty labels here.
Step-by-step guide to making an “open when” box
Step 1: gather your supplies and notes
Grab your pill box, paper, pen, and other ideas to decorate with. Then go back to our list of ‘open when’ ideas and select 28 ‘open when’ moments that you will write a personal note for.
Start early with answering the ‘open when’ moments. I would advise you to open a note on your phone and answer a few every day. That way, you don’t have to come up with all the answers and personal notes all at once. Which will make your answers a lot more personal and in-depth.
Step 2: Prepare your pill box
Now this is a little bit tricky because not all pill boxes work and look the same, so I can’t give you the exact instructions.
But you’ll start by writing the “open when” moment on each slot of your pill box. You could use stickers or write it on a piece of paper and use sticky tape as I did.
Or design them in an online tool like Canva, and print them to make your pill box even prettier.
Step 3: Write each “open when” note
Next, you will write a note for each “open when” moment.
Now, I just used lined paper, which I folded and then put in the pill slot.
But if you want to make yours look a little bit more pretty than mine, I would suggest you use my free printables. You can print as many as you need here.
Step 4: Put them in the right slot
Next, add all the notes in the right slot and close them
Step 5: Design or print your label
Lastly, you can use this free printable label to decorate your pill box.
I used wrapping paper, and a handwritten note (I didn’t have access to a printer when I made the pill box for my boyfriend). But I actually think that the free printable is a lot prettier.
Step 6: Give your pillbox of love to your loved ones
More DIY Valentine’s Day crafts & ideas
Did this DIY craft inspire you to start making more gifts yourself? Then check out these cute projects too!
- Homemade coupon book
- DIY compliment lolly pop holder
- Valentine’s Day coloring pages and cards
- Funny Valentine’s Day card messages
- Valentine’s Day gifts for travel lovers
Save this “open when” pillbox idea
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Alright, I hope this post helped you to create your own “open when” pill box filled with love and memories.
Happy crafting and here’s to making those special moments even more memorable!