Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Ideas For Christmas: Upcycled Wrapping Paper

Although I mostly try not to take plastic shopping bags, I am actually always quite pleased when a shop has the brown paper variety. So many crafting options! (Yes, I am that sad). Here's a quick tutorial showing how I give these old bags a new lease of life as cheerful wrapping paper.

You will need:

  • Old paper bags (the bigger the better)
  • Paint (I tried both acrylic and poster paint - both work but I preferred acrylic)
  • A paint pallet (an old plate or piece of cardboard will do)
  • Cookie cutters of your choice
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper (to protect your table)

You want to start by deconstructing your bag down to a flat piece of paper. To do this, carefully pull apart where the seams have been stuck together, like so:

Do this until your paper bag is completely flattened out. You will also want to remove the handles, being careful not to tear the paper. At this stage, you can neaten up your sheet of wrapping paper by trimming the edges with scissors.

Next, you'll want to squeeze a blob of paint onto your pallet (or equivalent)  and dip the top edge of your cutter into the paint. I then experimented with removing excess paint by dabbing on the newspaper - have a go and see what works for you.

Then it's just a matter of going for it! I use a mix of different shaped star cookie cutters to create my wrapping paper, but stuck to one colour.

Here's how it came out:

After my first go, I tried a few different paint and cookie cutter options, including this yellow, red and orange heart design: 

And this white, red and yellow flower design:

I've never used cookie cutters as stamps before, but found it actually worked pretty well. You could also try doing a few layers of patterns, letting the paint dry completely between each layer, to create a busier effect.

Once your paper is dry, you can go ahead and getting wrapping! Paper bags are quite thick, so they tend to work best when wrapping squared-off presents like books, DVDs and boxes. I embellished mine with a little red ribbon:

I'm sure you could have worked out how to turn old bags into wrapping paper without my help, but I hope this tutorial  has been of some use anyway! I like to reuse and recycle wherever I can (as well as save money!), so this is a perfect Christmas DIY for me :)


  1. Aww those stars are really cute, great idea! x

  2. v.cute idea! It has just made me have another idea though... topshop's paper bags currently have the most awesome galaxy print on them so I might just use those to wrap stuff up! I'd not actually though to use bags before so thank you!x

  3. Good idea! I always buy brown paper but never think to recycle bags.. x

  4. What a great idea! I always loved brown paper more than colourful wrapping paper and adding colour to it makes it look great.

  5. Clever! Great way to recycle too. I love brown paper parcels!

  6. Ooh I like this idea. I did stamps and brown paper this year, but this is a good twist :-)


  7. Like recycling!

    I often keep those picture pages from the centre of the guardian and reuse as wrapping paper. They had a great series of Xmas paper a few years back. Also like the FT, nicked from my brother's recycling, as it's such a pretty colour.

  8. Super awesome DIY Jess. Never thought of reusing a paper bag. Great idea :)

    x Elena @ Randomly Happy

  9. Great idea! There's always a good few of these hanging around our house near Christmas (new pjs!) and it seems such a waste to just recycle them, when you can spend a fortune on brown paper from stationery stores.

    I'm starting wrapping later today, so this could be a little crafty project on the side!


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