Making Gift Bags from Newspaper

Making Gift Bags from Newspaper


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Here's What You Need |  Instructions |  Other Ideas

Everyone is interested in sustainability these days.

Maybe you've also been bitten by the minimalist bug.

If you're sick of buying paper wrapping materials just to have the recipient throw them in the trash after unwrapping your gift, this DIY guide is for you.

Why spend money on decorative paper or gift bags when you can make beautiful custom gift packaging out of upcycled materials?

Great idea, right?

So what materials should you use?

Newspaper, of course, is the obvious choice. If you have access to newsprint, use that. But these days, chances are that you don't have a newspaper subscription.

You may still get grocery store flyers or other advertising papers in your mailbox, and these are also great choices.

These days your mail-order shipments may come with wadded brown paper as packing material - this is also a great choice.

You can also make these newspaper bags out of light fabric harvested from worn-out clothing or from your thrift store.

Got leftover wallpaper lying around from your home decor update?

This is the perfect use for that. Wallpaper scraps are also great embellishments for a simple newspaper bag.

Though we call them newspaper bags, obviously you can use many other materials than newspaper.

Do you need packaging that is a little more sturdy?

Grocery store paper bags are a great source of sturdy material to create a stronger gift bag than newspaper.

In just a few steps, following the instructions below, you can make gift bags, environmentally friendly newspaper gift bags, that look even better than the ones you buy in the store.

Whatever your fancy, grab your materials and check out this video from Factory Direct Craft to create a bag for your next gift-giving venture.

So let's get started and make gift bags!


  • Newspaper, advertising flyers, light fabric, packing paper, wrapping or other materials.
  • Paper doilies.
  • A glue stick or tape
  • Scissors
  • A hole punch
  • String, ribbon, jute or twine

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1. Cut a piece of newspaper, advertising flyer, packing paper or fabric at 9"x6".

This will create a bag that is about 4"x5.5." If you want a larger newspaper giftbag, start with a larger piece of material.

The shorter side will finish at 1/2" shorter than the original length (and will end up being the longer side of the newspaper bag), but the longer side will be reduced by a little more than half.

So if you want a 5"x7" finished bag, you'll want to cut your material 11"x7.5". If you want a 6"x8" finished bag, cut your material 13"x8.5". And so on.

2. Fold your material in half length-wise to create a crease. The crease should be parallel with your longest edges.

This crease will be a guide for you as you continue to fold your bag.

3. Unfold the material. Then fold the vertical, long sides of the material inward towards the center crease, making sure the edges overlap.

The more they overlap, the narrower your bag will be, but the sturdier the join will be.

Adhere them to each other with tape or glue (or both!).

4. Fold up the bottom of the bag about 1/2" and glue or tape down (or both).

Fold the bottom corners over first to create a nice finished edge. This is the bottom of the bag so you want to make sure it's really secure.

If you're putting something heavy in it, you may want to use clear packing tape to secure the bottom.

5. Next, it's time to make the top of the bag. You can either simply fold it over and secure it, or you can use the doilies to make a beautiful closure.

Fold the doily in half to create a half-circle. Open it up and slide it over the opening of the package.

Then use your whole punch to punch two holes through the top of the bag and both layers of the doily.

6. Thread your string, jute, ribbon or twine through the holes and tie a bow.

Use two lengths together for extra embellishment.

Ribbon with trim will look a bit more feminine and ornate, while jute or twine give a more rustic look.

This creates a small bag, but you can cut a larger piece of material to make a larger bag. You can also double up your materials (or use more than one) to make a sturdier bag.

This creates a small bag, but you can cut a larger piece of material to make a larger bag.

You can also double up your materials (or use more than one) to make a sturdier bag.

Once you've created your bag, it's time for the fun part: decorating it.

A DIY gift bag will delight up any recipient, especially if you use a section of the paper that appeals to your recipient's interests (comic section, anyone?)

How about a bag with drawings of cats and dogs? If you do origami, you can create beautiful three-dimensional shapes and add those to your bag.

What about pop-up art made out of paper, like pop-up paper flowers?

There are all kinds of craft-store and dollar-store finds such as stickers, buttons and ribbon (try brown velvet ribbon on brown Kraft paper to fold a rustic, yet elegant paper bag), that you can use to jazz up your gift wrapping paper bags.

Depending on the materials you use and your eye for detail, you have it in you to create beautiful, one-of-a-kind DIY gift bags.

This is also a great idea for an activity to do with kids. The steps are easy enough that you would just need to show them how to do it once, and then let them loose to create an entire stash of DIY gift bags.

This is also an addictive project for DIY crafty types.

Do you have a stack of old magazines piling up?

Do you save wrapping paper from birthdays and holidays?

Or do you have an old large gift bag that has a small tear in it?

It's a great idea to use these materials to make your custom-made DIY gift bags. Get all of that stuff together and brainstorm which type of bag you will create.

All you need is to grab some materials, make room on your table, and let your artistic mind run wild.

There are a lot of other tutorials to make DIY gift bags online, too.

Back to top.


If you're a scrapbooker, or just like to collect beautiful scrapbook papers, this tutorial is for you.

The tutorial walks you through making structured gift bags that stand up by themselves, have decorative contrast panels and ribbon ties.

The downside to this tutorial, though, is that you may not have scrapbook paper lying around, and then you have to go to the store to get materials in order to avoid going to the store to buy gift bags.

Still, this one will appeal to the super-crafty people reading this.

If you're making gift bags to gift wine bottles to your friends and family, this tutorial walks you through making them out of fabric.

As we mentioned before, you might have worn-out clothes destined for the dumpster; this is a great way to be sustainable and use up those old items guilt-free.

If you don't have any old clothes lying around, how about old sheets or tablecloths?

You can also check out your thrift store for fabric yardage or just an old shirt to repurpose.

We love this idea for upcycling.

This tutorial makes a super-fancy gift bag with facets reminiscient of gem stones.

Newspaper is not sturdy enough for this pattern; you'll need brown paper from a brown paper grocery bag or another heavy paper to make this one.

This one requires material 10.5"x6" and some intricate folding. If you're a crafty type, this tutorial is a great idea for a show-stopping gift package for your next gift-giving occasion.

This tutorial uses old book pages to create beautiful gift bags that are perfect for the bibliophile in your life.

This one is a great project to use up the pages of that old book you have that's falling apart.

Pages from illustrated children's books make great materials for gift bags for kids, or favor bags for a child's birthday party.

If you have extra gift paper lying around, try this simple tutorial for a gift bag that is a great choice for those oddly-shaped, hard-to-wrap items that you always struggle with.

This one calls for the same list of materials that we do in our instructions, so you can switch up your gift bag crafting and make a variety of packing to meet all your gift-giving needs.

No matter what style you choose, using newspaper or other upcycled materials to create a DIY gift bag is a great use of materials and your time.

Crafting is calming and a great activity to do with friends or family.

Use recycled or upcycled materials to be sustainable, lessen your waste and create beautiful DIY gifts for the people you love.

Sara Phillipps
A vegan freelance web designer and blog writer based out of Austin, Texas USA.

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