Upcycle Your Gift Bags

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Do you have a bunch of paper gift bags with handles that you don’t know what to do with? We have some ideas for you. When you upcycle your gift bags, you keep waste out of the landfill while giving thoughtful gifts to your loved ones. Check out our creative ideas to upcycle your gift bags.

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Book Covers

Book covers are easy to make and fun to decorate. Turning gift bags into book covers reduces waste and saves your books at the same time. Furthermore, paper bags take about a month to decompose in a landfill where plastic bags take up to ten years. When you want to save the environment and create unique covers for your books, paper gift bags with handles are a good option.

Wrapping Paper

How many times have you gone to wrap something just to realize you don’t have any wrapping paper? I’ve done it more times than I can count. This is where brown kraft paper bags come in. Remove the handles from the bag and cut the bag to the size of the present. Wrap the gift up like you normally would and tape it shut. Decorate the outside with stamps, stickers, pom-poms, or anything else you have.

Greeting Cards

Instead of spending five dollars on a greeting card from the store, cut up an old gift bag to make your own. Use a colored bag, a patterned bag, or a brown kraft paper bag as a gift card. Write a thoughtful message inside for your loved one. Decorate the outside however you wish. You can even add fresh, pressed flowers for a unique look. Your loved one will appreciate the time and thought you put into the card.


Why not use colorful gift bag paper instead of boring, white paper for origami. Start with easy designs, such as the crane, fan, boat, or tulip. Work your way up to harder, more intricate origami with different colored gift bags. When you’re done, display your pieces around your home, hung from the ceiling, or attached to gifts as extra decorations.

Wall Decor

Want to update your wall decor without spending a lot of money? Take your colored, patterned gift bags and turn them into masterpieces. Cut the gift bags up and put them in picture frames. The frames can be any size, from small accent frames to large poster frames. Since gift bags come in so many patterns, you are sure to find ones that match with your decor.


If you preserve your memories and feelings via scrapbook, use gift bags as a part of the decorations. When you have a special event, keep a piece of the gift bag, cut it up, and put it in the scrapbook. That way, you have decorations, reuse gift bags, and decorate your scrapbook all at the same time.

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Magazine Holders

Chances are you are like most and have magazines lying around the house. Organize them by putting them in gift bags. Sort them by month, year, or theme. For example, put all your New Yorker magazines in a gift bag and label what year they are from. Start with January in the front and end with December. That way, if you want to read your favorite story again, you know right where it’s located.


Envelopes are much easier to create than you think. Make origami envelopes, tape envelopes or pouch envelopes. Bonus points if you put your personalized greeting card inside the envelope. The card and envelope will match, plus they have a personalized touch that your loved one will appreciate.


Do you have holiday themed gift bags left over? Create a gallery wall with them. For example, put your Christmas themed gift bags in frames. When Christmas time rolls around, half of your Christmas decor is already done. Pull out the frames and create a Christmas wall in your home. Your guests won’t even know your decor used to be gift bags.

Paper Chain

Do you remember making paper chains when you were younger? Make them again with your kids, friends, or family members. Old gift bags are perfect as paper chains because they are colorful and work well with holiday themes.


Don’t pay for confetti, make your own. Use a paper shredder, hole punch, or just cut the bags up with scissors to make confetti. You can make it holiday themed, by colors, or mix it all together. Confetti can be used inside of gifts, cards, table decorations, or anywhere else you need. When you’re done, clean up the confetti and put it in a bag to use again. This keeps the paper out of the landfill and teaches others about zero-waste practices.

Gift Tags

Do you go to put names on gifts just to realize you don’t know where your gift tags are? Make your own from gift bags. Cut out a rectangle from the bag and punch a hole in the top. Run a ribbon through the hole and you have your very own gift tag. Your loved one will appreciate the thought you put into pulling the gift together.

Seedling Pots

Lots of tutorials say to use newspaper for seedling pots, but you can also use gift bags. The gift bags are a bit sturdier, so they will hold the dirt better. Create a seedling pot by folding the bag into a square shape. Fill them with dirt and you are ready to go! Not only are you keeping waste out of the landfill, but you can plant whatever you want in your home garden.

Repurpose Your Gift Bags

It doesn’t take much to repurpose your paper gift bags with handles or your brown kraft paper bags. Check out our list and see what speaks to you. Your friends and family will love the thoughtfulness you put into each craft.