During a recent closet organizing project my Dad discovered several large rolls of gift wrap in his house that he knew he would most likely never use. Rather than just toss them out, he did what most parents of grown children do. You check if the kids want it.
I’ve been known to do this too. I try not to dump all my leftovers on the kids if they don’t want them, but I usually ask them first and sometimes it is in fact something they want and can use. It’s nice to give your family first chance and to help your kids out if you can too.
And in the case of my Dad’s wrapping paper that he wanted to pass along to me? I said yes, sure, I can always use more wrapping paper. I’ll take it. Suddenly my stash of gift wrap has tripled in size!
But like a lot of other folks, I’ve found myself not using gift wrap as much anymore and instead I’m using gift bags more and more often. Gift bags are such a simple way to handle gift giving. So this got me thinking . . . I wonder if I can put some of this extra wrapping paper to good use by using it to make my own gift bags? And the answer is “Yes!” After some cutting and taping and experimenting, I came up with a formula that makes a nice looking DIY gift bag without much effort.
Now those of you that are quick on the uptake might be thinking – Hey, if you’re going to get out the wrapping paper, scissors and tape and what have you, just wrap the stupid present! Why bother to make a gift bag? My answer to that is “odd shaped gifts”. Not everything you want to wrap is easy to wrap (which is why gift bags have become so popular!) Having this quick strategy to make your own gift bags let’s you be frugal and use up scraps or extra wrapping paper and still get your gifts covered in a way that doesn’t turn out all lumpy looking.
Here’s a quick video showing the process. Written instructions and photos are included below too.
DIY Gift Bags From Wrapping Paper
- Gift Wrap
- Tape (or glue stick)
- Index cards or other light cardboard (optional)
1. Begin by cutting a piece of gift wrap twice as wide as it is high. In the pictures here I am using a piece 18″ x 9″
2. Turn the paper over so the right side is facing down. Then bring both sides towards the middle and overlap them a bit.
3. Tape (or glue) the piece together in the middle where it is overlapping. Press down on the outside edges to crease them.
4. Next you will fold up one third of the bottom. In this example of an 18″ x 9″ piece, I am folding up 3″.
5. Open up the folded area as shown below and crease the new folds. I usually add a little extra tape inside on the top half to secure the seam area.
6. Then fold up from the bottom, and down from the top, meeting in the middle and overlapping a bit, and tape down. This is the bottom of your bag so don’t be shy with the tape. Tape everything down good!
7. Now you will fold in from the sides as shown below. I line things up in the bottom corners when I do this as shown by the arrow. This step is just to help make a few creases to create side gussets on the bag when you open it up.
8. Finally, open everything up. You will need to carefully make the side folds a little more crisp and get them going in the right direction. Feel free to make any of the other folds more crisp too. If you would like a sturdier bottom for your gift bag, cut a piece of light cardboard to the appropriate size (index cards work well on smaller bags) and lay it in the bottom of the bag.
9. Once your gift is in the bag you can secure the top either by simply folding it over and taping it, you can be more decorative and punch a couple holes in the top and thread a ribbon through to tie the bag shut. Because wrapping paper is not as sturdy as a store-bought gift bag, folding the top over in some way seems to work the best for closing the bag.
My favorite thing about this strategy is that the formula works whether you want a large bag or a small bag, and is an easy way to use up scraps and leftovers of wrapping paper. As long as your piece is about twice as wide as it is high, and you fold up about one third to make the bottom, you’ll end up with a gift bag with good proportions.
That being said, maybe you want to make a short squatty bag, or a tall skinny bag. This process can still work for those situations too. You can adjust the ratio of the width to the height as needed, and still use the same type of folds to make the bottom and sides.
One more quick tip is that many gift wrap rolls are 30″. If you cut off a 15″ piece from the roll (so your piece is twice as wide as it is high) you will have the perfect size piece to make a nice medium sized gift bag. (The largest of the four bags shown in the photo below is the 30″ x 15″ size.)