crafts and gift wrapping ideas

Gift wrapping ideas from "An Irish Attic"

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, but 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 brown, white and retail stores' paper bags. Caution: 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.

If your bag has it's own handle skip the following cuff and handle steps.

Make Handles

Cuff: start by rolling the top of the bag to the outside to form a cuff, being careful not to rip the cuff. If you do rip the cuff, repair with scotch tape then cover the tape with a decorative item that matches your gift bag. The cuff gives the top of the bag the strength to accomodate the handle, but even so you will not be able to use the handles if you have heavy items in your bag.

Handle: either use a hand held hole puncher punch two holes one inch from the top on either side of the long edge of bag. Thread raffia, silk cord, ribbon, fabric strips, hem tape, ric-rack or twine through the holes and knot the ends to keep handle from coming back through the hole or staple your handles to the bag and cover the staples with a decorative item.

Basic Gift Bag

Decorate your bag with any of the following items (take a deep breath before reading this list, it's a long one):
  • paper dollies
  • ribbon scraps- glue in a stripe pattern onto bag
  • puff paints, paint pens or markers
  • fabric scraps
  • glitter
  • lace scraps
  • comics
  • stickers
  • cutouts from previously used gift wrap
  • dried or silk flowers
  • cutouts from old greeting cards, magazines or photos
  • sprinkle sand, confetti or glitter over glue "drawings'
  • spray bag with glue and sprinkle with confetti
  • cutouts from self-adhesive shelf liner
  • newspaper headlines appropriate to the recipient or occasion
  • squirt glue on bag to write a message or design & sprinkle with glitter or sand

Themed Gift Bags

Garden Bag

Glue moss around bottom edge of bag to look like grass, then use one of the following methods to create your "garden":
  • glue on dried or silk flowers

  • 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 bag

Farmyard Bag

Spray glue around bottom edge of bag then coat with sand. Shake to remove loose sand. Reapply glue and sand if needed. Use one of the following methods to create your "farm":
  • glue wood, cardboard or paper cutouts of animals, a barn ... to bag

  • use paint pens to draw your garden - do this while the bag is flat before doing the above decorations.

  • glue stray or lost farm and animal toys to bag

Beach Bag

Spray glue around bottom half of bag. Sprinkle sand over glue. Shake to remove loose sand. Reapply glue and sand if needed.

Spray glue over rest of bag and coat with blue glitter.

Arrange and glue small rectangles of terry-cloth or felt for beach towels, small people figures (stray toys or magazine cut-outs) on towels, in "sand" and "water", stick stems of paper drink umbrellas through bag behind people and tape on inside to hold, fish and boats in the water ...

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, a small whip, individual measuring spoons ...

Italian Dinner Bag

Glue spaghetti in a fan pattern onto outside of bag. Glue red, white or green bow over center portion of the fan. Line inside of 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. Take an empty baby wipes container, the kind that you have to pull the wipes through a slit at the top and decorate the container in one of the following ways:
  • Soak the label off, dry thoroughly and cover container with spray paint. When paint is dry glue on magazine cutouts of baby items or cutouts from previously used gift wrap.

  • Don't bother soaking the label off, just cover it with magazine cutouts or gift wrap cutouts. Leave the rest of the container as is.

  • Wrap with fabric, hot gluing at 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.

Leave the top of the container as is (make sure there's no price tag on it though!). Take one baby wipe that you've set aside to thoroughly dry. Write your message on the wipe 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 at the top.

Then take all of your gifts and tie them together with a thin ribbon. Hold the resulting string of gifts over container and allow to drop into container in the order they are strung together. Tie last bit of ribbon to the bottom of your baby wipes message. Replace lid.

Birthday Bag

Glue balloons, confetti, glitter, leftover Christmas or shredded tissue paper to top 1/4 of bag. Decorate 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 front of a previously used birthday card and glue to front of bag.

  • Glue a birthday message and/or picture printed from your computer.

Special Effects Gift Bags

Covered Bag: glue any of the below to the inside edge of bag and then allow to hang over the edge to cover outside of bag:
  • curled ribbon
  • moss
  • any items listed under TISSUE PAPER
  • lace or fringed fabric (if not long enough, glue layers to outside of bag, allowing each layer to cover the edge of previous layer or glue fabric, magazine pictures of flowers or lace ... to bag so that the lace or fabric falling from top of bag covers the glue line.

Marbled Bag: use crumbled cellophane or newspaper to dab on light coats of paint (use one or more colors).

Splatter Bag: fill paint brush with paint and shake over bag. Use tone-on-tone or multi-colors.

Shiny Bag: once you finish designing your bag spray with several light coats of spray-on clear acrylic.

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last revised April 12, 2010
Copyright Kathleane C. O'Leary 1997 all rights reserved
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