How to Make Gift Bags Out of Recycled Paper

This holiday season is already filled with reasons to spend money. From gifts to food to decorations. The prices add up. Then, you need to buy wrapping paper and bows for your gifts. Name tags and string so that your family knows who gave them the gifts. The list goes on and on. Luckily, there’s an easy way to cut down your costs this holiday season. Instead of buying wrapping paper and gift bags, you can make your own. You can make gift bags out of recycled paper. It’s easy and really fun! Check out step by step procedures for making your own gift bags this holiday season.

What Types of Recycled Paper Can I Use?

That’s a great question. There’s a lot of different kinds of paper that we recycle daily. From magazines to newspapers. Basically, all types of recycled paper can be made into a gift bag. You can turn last year’s calendar into a beautiful gift bag. Also, you can make your child’s old kindergarten drawings into a memorable gift for them. Other paper items that you can turn into a gift bag are: catalog pages, sketch books, used wrapping paper, books, sheet music, etc. I’m sure you have some of those lying around your home as we speak. The type of paper you use to make the bag depends on what you want the bag to look like. If you want something comical, then  use the comic section of the newspaper. If you want the gift bag to look classy, then  use sheet music. You can make your own recycled paper, too!

Step by Step

Making your own gift bags out of recycled paper may seem like a daunting task. However, there are plenty of easy to follow guides that can help you. Also, there are templates that you can download for make gift bags. Now, here’s a step by step guide to making different kinds of gift bags.

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Make a Gift Bag Out of Newspaper

Newspaper is the most common type of recycled paper. In fact, some people get newspapers every day. Therefore, they have plenty of it lying around. To make a gift bag out of recycled newspaper, you will need a few supplies:

  • Newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Glue
  • Card stock or chipboard
  • A hole punch
  • String or cord
  • Eyelets (optional)

Let's Begin

First, stack two pieces of newspaper on top of each other. This will reinforce the weight the bag will be able to hold. Next, cut a rectangle that’s 8.25 inches tall and 15.5 inches wide. Then, fold the top down 1.25 inches. After, fold the bottom up 2 inches. Then, you should measure out places to put more folds. The first section should be 4.5 inches. The next section should be 3 inches. Repeat this pattern one more time. The end of your newspaper opposite of where you started measuring should be folded over half an inch. When you’re done, there should be four sections. Two that are 4.5 inches, two that are 3 inches, and one that’s folded over .5 inches. Lastly, fold the newspaper where you measured. You will need the bag to make a box shape and these folds will help you do that.

Now, Let's Start Gluing!

In order to help the bag be strong enough to hold a gift, you need to cut out card stock. Cut out two pieces of card stock to be 4.5 inches by 1 inch. Then, glue the card stock onto the widest two sections you measured out earlier. The widest two sections are the ones that are 4.5 inches wide. Glue them to the top of the bag, under the top folds. Next, glue the flaps down on the card stock. You may need to glue both flaps down because we stacked newspapers on top of one another. Next, glue the outside of the .5 inch flap to the opposite side of the newspaper. The paper will not begin to look like a bag. Or, if you prefer shapes, a box. Also, remember to glue down both layers of the newspaper.

You're Almost Done!

You can see the newspaper is beginning to look like a bag. Next, you need to rotate the newspaper around so that the 2 inch flaps are now at the top. If you’ve ever wrapped a present before, then this next part should be a piece of cake. Fold this part like you would the side of a present. Start with the shorter ends. Glue the top flaps onto the others so that the bag can hold something. Basically, you’re using glue instead of tape for this. Next, cut out a piece of card stock that’s 4 inches by 2.5 inches. Glue the card stock into the bottom of the bag. Make sure it’s inside the bag. This will allow the bag to hold weight. Lastly, punch holes into the top of the bag. You can add eyelets if you’re fancy. Then, put string through the holes and you’re done!

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Another Type of Gift Bag

This next gift bag is made using a box from your cupboard or pantry. First, you need a few supplies:

  • A box of food
  • Glue
  • Recycled paper
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard
  • A hole punch
  • String, ribbon, etc.

This is a bit simpler than the other version we talked up above. First, wrap the box you got from your pantry with the paper. Wrap it like you’re wrapping a present. Glue the edges together and use tape to reinforce the bottom. Leave one end unwrapped. Next, cut cardboard to put inside the bag. This will help the bottom of the bag to be stronger and hold more weight. Cut the top part of the bag to make it look nice. Then, punch two holes into the bag and put your string through them. Make sure to tie a knot with the string so it stays on the bag.  

The Benefits of Using Recycled Paper

There are plenty of benefits of making your own gift bags out of recycled paper. First, you save a lot of money. Wrapping paper and gift bags cost money. When you have a lot of gifts to wrap, then the costs add up. Especially, with gift bags. They cost $3.00 or $4.00 a bag! Also, you can make gifts bags in bulk. If you have a lot of paper lying around, then you can make them all into beautiful gift bags. You can, literally, stock up on gift bags! Lastly, recycling those papers in any way is good for the environment. Plus, if you happen to save money while recycling, then it’s a win-win!

Other Homemade Gift Ideas

You can make most of what you need this season at home. Oh, and with recycled materials, as well! You can make our own bows for wrapped gifts. Also, you can make your own decorations and name tags. The possibilities are endless when it comes to what you can use recycled materials for! If you need ideas for what to do with old, recyclable materials, then a quick google search will leave you inspired and satisfied!


In conclusion, there are really easy ways to make your own gift bags out of recycled paper. You can follow the steps I’ve laid out for you, or you can do your own research. Either way, your gift bag will look beautiful and your family will adore them! If you make the bag a gift comes in, then it makes that gift even more special than it was before!

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Bailey Longhurst

I am amazed every day by the beauty that this world provides for us and think it is important to preserve it! Taking care of ourselves and our earth is crucial and I want to help people discover new ways to do both. Publishing for Green and Growing is a unique way that I can get my message across, and I hope you all enjoy what we write about!

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