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Gift bag made from wrapping paper
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Easy Gift Bags

What you will make:

In this project, you will see how easy it is to make reusable gift bags from wrapping paper. With this simple technique, bags can be fashioned in just the right size for your gift. You will simply use a stack of books or boxes as a form for the bag's base. Wrap one end of the form like a box, and remove the form to reveal your bag!

This is the first in a series of craft projects on gift-wrapping that focuses on making your own boxes and bags in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Related craft: To see how to add a sturdy twine handle to the top of a gift bag, checkout the Halloween Trick or Treat Bags craft project.

Here's what you need:
  • Wrapping paper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Glue or tape
  • Stack of books
  • Optional: Cardboard, ribbon, yarn, hole punch, and reinforcing rings

This project is rated EASY to do.

How to Make Easy Gift Bags

Read all of the steps before starting.
Step 1: Determine Size Determine the size of gift bag needed

Look at the gift you want to wrap and estimate the size of the bag you will need. You can do this by drawing a rectangle around the gift on a piece of scrap paper and then measuring the gift's height. Stack books until the side of the book stack is the size of the rectangle you drew or larger. You may need to make two or more stacks of books side-by-side if your gift is large.

This stack of books will be used as a form to create the bag. You can also use a box or a stack of boxes as a form.

Step 2: Cut Wrapping Paper Cut a wrapping paper to size

Cut a sheet of wrapping paper to use in making the bag. In one direction, the paper should be the desired height of the bag plus 3/4 of the bag's depth, plus 1 inch extra (2 cm). In other words, the paper measurements should be the height of the bag plus enough paper to fold over the end of the stack of books, plus 1 inch. In the other direction, the paper should wrap around the stack of books, with 1/2 inch extra (1 cm) for overlap.

Step 3: Fold Top Edge
Fold over 1 inch and glue in place

Place the wrapping paper right side down. Fold back 1 inch (2 cm) along the top edge, crease, and glue in place.

Step 4: Books on Paper Place stack of books on wrapping paper

With the wrapping paper right side down, place the stack of books in the center of the paper near the bottom edge. Be sure that the stack sits above the bottom edge by about 3/4 of the stack's height.

Step 5: Wrap and Glue Wrap paper round books and glue or tape

Wrap the paper around the stack and secure the seam with glue or tape. Be sure that the top edge meets evenly at the seam.

Be careful not to wrap too tightly, or it will be difficult to remove the stack of books from the bag.

Step 6: Form Bag's Base Fold paper over books to form bag base

Make the bag's base by folding the paper over one end of the stack of books like you are wrapping a box. Run your fingers down each edge of the stack to crease the bag's corners. Remove the stack of books from the bag.

Step 7: Fold Gusset (optional) Fold a gusset in the bag

To make gusseted (pleated) sides on the bag, pinch the sides of the bag together and crease down the middle of the side. Do this on both sides of the bag.

You may also fold the bottom of the bag up and crease it flat—like a grocery bag. This will allow the bag to be stored flat.

Step 8: Finishing Touches (optional) Gift bag with Scottie dog decorations and handle
  • Make the bag stronger by reinforcing the bottom with a piece of cardboard cut to size and placed in the bottom of the bag.
  • To add a ribbon to tie the bag closed, punch two holes in the top of the bag, while holding the front and the back together. Thread ribbon through the holes. Make the holes stronger by adding notebook reinforcing rings. Tip: For a way to add sturdy handles, see the Halloween Trick or Treat Bags craft project.
Gift bag with flower decorations and handle
  • If you used solid-colored wrapping paper, you may want to decorate the bag. You can color it, stamp it, or apply paper cuts. Make your own paper cuts, or print one of these Scottie dog or flower appliqué sheets. For more paper cut sheets and how to use them, see the Simple Paper Cutting craft project.

Patterns are Adobe PDF files. The Adobe Reader is available for free.

All of Aunt Annie's Crafts project patterns are designed to be printed on standard letter-size paper (8.5"x11" or A4). When printing from Adobe Reader, you may need to select Auto-Rotate and Center or Choose paper source by PDF page size to ensure the best fit.

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Before you start:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read all of the directions.
  • Gather everything you need to do the project.
  • Think about the project. Imagine how it will look and what you will do with it.

Are you ready?
Okay, get started!!!

Gift bag made from marbled paper

Tip: For small gifts, sheets of decorative paper can be used to make gift bags.

Gift bag with ribbon tie

Tip: Ribbon threaded through punched holes can be used to tie a bag closed.

Easy gift bag with paper ribbon trim

Tip: Decorate gift bags with paper ribbons like this Pen 'n Ink Hearts Paper Ribbon or other paper ribbon downloads from Aunt Annie.

Easy gift bag made from ePaper.

Tip: These gift bags are made from Pink Lemonade ePaper and Pink Limeade ePaper. Browse Aunt Annie's complete collection of ePaper digital downloads.

Trick or Treat bags

Tip: Adapt the technique used to make Easy Gift Bags to create Halloween Trick or Treat Bags from construction paper or brown craft paper. See how sturdy handles are added to these bags.

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