Doesn't it seem as if wrapping your gifts costs more than the gifts themselves? I love gift bags because they take so much less time to wrap a gift, especially when I'm doing it at the last minute. However, they do tend to cost way more than wrapping paper. My solution is satisfying on so many levels. I get to recycle things I might have otherwise thrown away, I have a fun craft to do with the kids, and best of all, I don't have to spend a fortune to wrap my gifts. I've made beautiful gift bags from all sizes of paper bags. You won't fool anyone into believing that this is a store-bought bag, but you will garner rave reviews for your creativity and thoughtfulness.
Basic Gift Bag
If your bag has its own handle, skip the following cuff and handle steps. Roll the top of your paper bag to the outside to form a cuff, being careful not to rip the bag. Using a paper punch, punch two holes on either side of the front and back edge of the bag cuff. Thread raffia, silk cord, ribbon, fabric strips, hem tape, ric-rack or twine through the holes to make handles. Decorate the bag with your choice of magazine cut outs, paper doilies, self-adhesive shelf liner, puff paints, or ribbon scraps. Glue in a stripe pattern stickers, newspaper headlines relative to the occasion or giftee, fabric or lace scraps, cut outs from gently-used gift wrap, or dried or silk flowers. Squirt glue on the bag to write a message and sprinkle with glitter or sand paint pens. Spray bag with glue and sprinkle with confetti, magazine or newspaper articles relative to the occasion or giftee, cutouts from old greeting cards, or comics.
Theme Gift Bags
Garden Bag - Glue moss around bottom edge of bag to look like grass, and then use one of the following methods to create your "garden." Glue on dried or silk flowers or use paint pens to draw your garden. Do this while the bag is flat before doing the above decorations. Cut out pictures of flowers from magazines, spray backs with glue, and arrange on the bag.
Farmyard Bag - Spray glue around bottom edge of bag and then coat with sand. Shake the bag to remove excess loose sand. Reapply glue and sand if needed. Use one of the following methods to create your "farm." Glue on wood or paper cutouts from magazines or gift wrap of animals. Use paint pens to draw your farm. Do this while the bag is flat before doing the above decorations. Glue on farm and animal toys
Beach Bag - Spray glue around the bottom half of the bag. Sprinkle sand over the glue. Shake to remove loose sand. Reapply glue and sand if needed. Spray glue over rest of bag and coat with blue glitter. Reapply if needed. Arrange and glue small rectangles of terry-cloth or felt for beach towels and people (stray toys or magazine cut-outs) on towels. Then bend back half of a paper drink umbrella and stick the stem through the bag behind the people. Tape on the inside of bag to hold in place.
Kitchen Bag - Punch sets of two holes in a random pattern all over bag. Thread ribbon through each set of holes and tie on lightweight objects, such as cookie cutters, pasta, or individual measuring spoons.
Italian Dinner Bag - Hot glue spaghetti in a fan pattern onto the outside of the bag. Put a blue, red, white or green bow over center portion of the fan. Line the inside of the bag with a red checked napkin, allowing it to hang over the edge of the bag.
Baby Shower Bag - This isn't exactly a bag, but it's the same concept. Decorate an old baby wipes container. You'll want the kind that you have to pull the wipes through a slit at the top. Cover the label with magazine or gift wrap cutouts. Or wrap with fabric, hot gluing at the top and bottom. Hot glue ribbon, raffia or lace to top and bottom edge. Wrap with leftover wallpaper or contact paper. Hot glue ribbon, raffia or lace to top and bottom edge. Write your message on a baby wipe that you've set aside to dry, leaving one corner blank on which you'll write "Pull Here." Insert the wipe through the slit of the container lid, so that the "Pull Here" message shows when the lid is snapped on. Now take all of your gifts and tie them together with a thin ribbon. Hold string of gifts over container and allow them to drop into the container in the order they are strung together. Tie the last bit of ribbon to the bottom of your baby wipe message. Replace lid.
Happy Birthday Bag - Glue balloons, confetti, glitter, leftover Christmas tinsel or shredded tissue paper to the top quarter of the bag. Decorate the rest of bag in one of the following ways. Write a birthday message with paint pens. Do this while the bag is flat before doing the above decorations. Cut out the front of a used birthday card and glue or tape to front of the bag. Glue a birthday message and/or picture printed from your computer.
Ms. O'Leary is the Director of Sitters Unlimited, which provides quality care for children, elderly, pets and homes in Orange County, CA. You'll find more crafts information on the Sitters Unlimited website.
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