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Dime Store Games: Ball-in-the-Hole

These little boxed universes can be lined with scenes cut out of old or new Christmas cards. It takes less patience to make the games than it does to play them. The trick is to get a bead to roll into a hole. Your scene determines whether the beads are stars, bells, or bright holly berries.




The toys here were made with old boxes for wooden matches. You can find them at flea markets, or just buy new ones and cover them with colored paper, gift wrap, or children's drawings if you don't like the label. Then proceed as shown below.

A ball-in-the-hole party game doesn't necessarily have to depict a scene: Patterned papers, old and new, also make good backgrounds. The more beads you add, the more difficult the challenge.

Ball-in-the-hole party games in plastic cases can be bought at most party stores. To redesign them, open the lids and replace backgrounds with scraps of gift wrap, art paper, or children's drawings.

Return to Dime Store Games.


  • Small box
  • Picture
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Beads
  • White craft glue
  • Glass or thin plastic
  • Super glue
  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Stiff paper or cardboard


  1. Step 1


    Cut out a picture to fit in the box.

  2. Step 2


    Punch holes in the picture for the beads; glue picture into box.

  3. Step 3


    Cut a piece of glass or thin plastic to size, or have your local glass shop do it. To set in a window flush with the edge of the box: Put beads on top of glass; apply super-glue around edges of the pane; place the inverted box over glass and beads, and let dry.

  4. Step 4


    Trace the box lid on desired paper, glued onto stiffer paper or cardboard, and cut out.

  5. Step 5


    Use a hole punch to make little holes. Reuse original beads, replace them with prettier ones made of glass, or use tiny imitation pearls.

Martha Stewart Living, December 2000



Reviews (1)

  • SparkleFarkle 16 Dec, 2008

    This year, I made my own Christmas gift tags by googling retro hoilday pictures (1950s) and adhering the minimized images to tagboard. Of course, I got carried away and the collection became very, very BIG! Thanks to Martha, I know exactly what to do with the leftover tags!