December is finally here, and with it comes lots of gift wrapping for the holidays. Last week we learned how to make gift bows for our boxed gifts, and the week before we used old greeting cards as fun and creative gift tags. Today we look at gift bags–possibly the easiest way to wrap anything (after all, you just stick the item in the bag and put some tissue paper in it).
If you don’t want to spend money on gift bags, or are just looking for a way to be more eco-friendly this holiday, trying making your bags from newspapers, magazines, leftover wallpaper, or even extra wrapping paper you have around.
This tutorial is from an awesome blog called How About Orange, and it focuses on using newspaper for this demonstration.
How to Make a Recycled Gift Bag
You can vary the dimensions, of course, but here’s what will create a bag that’s 5″ tall, 4.5″ wide, and 3″ deep.
Stack two sheets of newspaper on top of each other. This will be a two-ply bag for extra sturdiness.
Cut out a rectangle that’s 15.5″ wide and 8.25″ tall. If your paper already has a fold in it, align the existing fold with one of the fold lines in the diagram below, unless you don’t mind an extra fold appearing somewhere on your bag. I cut out this rectangle, then flipped the paper over so the blue area would be on the outside of the bag.
Fold a flap 1.25″ down from the top. Fold a flap 2″ up from the bottom. Then measure off and make vertical folds in the places shown in the diagram above. The front and back panels are 4.5″ wide, the side gussets are 3″ wide, and you’ll need a 0.5″ flap for gluing the bag together.
If you want to add more stability to the sides of your bag, cut two pieces of cardstock, thin cardboard, or chipboard to 4.25″ x 1″, then glue them on the widest two panels just under the top fold. Glue the top flap down along the length of the bag, covering the cardstock. Since the bag is two-ply, you’ll need to glue both flap pieces down one at a time. (I believe this step to be optional, but very helpful in getting your bag to stand up nice and firmly on its own.)
Put glue on the outside of the 0.5″ tab and bring the left-most panel over to form the body of the bag, aligning the cut edge of the panel with the folded edge of the flap. Add a little more glue to make sure the outermost sheet of newsprint gets tacked down, too.
Upend the bag so the 2″ flap is now up. Fold the short sides inward as if you were wrapping a present. If it seems easier, you could also lay the bag on its side and crease those folds against the table.
Put glue on both flaps and fold them inward to form the bottom of the bag. Standing the bag upright and pressing down from the inside will help to secure them.
Cut a piece of chipboard or cardboard to 4″ x 2.5″ and glue it to the bottom of the bag to reinforce it and hide the flaps. This lends more stability to the bottom of the bag.
Punch holes in the rim of the bag, adding eyelets if you like, and string some cord through the holes to form handles. Knot each end of the cord so it won’t pull out through the holes.
This tutorial is a bit free form, but you can also create different size bags by using boxes as a mold. For example, this tutorial uses a cereal box to create the shape of the bag, and this one uses a wooden box just big enough for a bottle of wine. Larger shoe boxes work particularly well if you need a wider base for your bag. You can get creative and use any size box you have around the house, or use the above method to create your own custom size.
Many of my gifts this year can fit nicely in wrapped boxes, but I may have to make a few of these bags just to try it out.