At first glance, a brown paper bag may not seem particularly inspiring, but there’s so much you can do with this simple material! Here are some super creative paper bag crafts that you won’t believe started life as a humble paper bag.
Brown paper bag craft ideas
Brown paper bags are such an everyday item, and such a cheap thing to buy, that I bet a lot of people have never really imagined their full potential.
But I can never resist looking at something through a crafty lens. When you look hard enough, you’ll discover so many amazing things that you can make with a simple paper bag!
How to upcycle paper bags
From simple party favors to impressive decor items, a paper bag can do it all! Buy them in bulk (or even just save the bags from your latest grocery store run!), and use them for all sorts of things. They’ll be your new favorite craft supply. Check out this collection of paper bag crafts to see what inspires you.
1. Decorate paper bags to make DIY candle covers
These DIY paper bag luminaries are a super simple craft to start you off. They can be made in minutes – just use a small hole punch to decorate the bags with a beautiful pattern of dots, and wrap them around a candle. Voila – homemade lanterns!
I love how customizable this craft is, as you can add any sort of pattern you like to your bag. Geometric shapes, floral patterns, or even just something random – it will all end up looking really effective once the flickering lights are shining through.
This would be a really fun craft activity for kids to join in with, too!
2. Use paper bags to make a paper vase
Think you’re not particularly crafty? Well, I have good news for you: this is one of the easiest paper bag crafts out there. If you can scrunch up a paper bag, you can make these paper bag vases. They’re such an easy way to make an indoor plant look a bit more interesting.
I wrapped my paper bag vases in white ribbon and twine, and the effect is really beautiful – the perfect balance of polished and rustic. You could easily swap for different a different color or pattern of ribbon to suit your home’s decor.
3. Turn your paper bag into an even better paper bag!
If you want to use your paper bags for storage, but want them to be sturdier and more attractive than a standard paper bag, here’s a stunning way to upcycle them! These woven paper baskets from The Craftaholic Witch look like beautiful woven baskets. It’s such a fun way to upgrade a simple paper bag into a really useful storage solution.
These paper baskets are a lot stronger than a standard paper bag, and much less likely to tear, so they’re great for storing small knick-knacks or craft supplies. I can see these looking really pretty on a desk or bookshelf!
4. Light up your garden with paper bag lanterns
These paper bag lanterns from Design Sponge would look gorgeous strung up around your garden for a special occasion. Customize each lantern with a cut-out (I love the leaf shapes on these!), and add a tea light. The candles shine through the holes, as well as casting a beautiful glow across the rest of the bag.
I love the idea of using electric tea lights in these lanterns, instead of real candles. Not only do they remove any fire hazard, they also ‘burn’ for a lot longer than real tea lights, so you don’t need to worry about relighting them!
5. Decorate your home with a paper bag wreath
If you enjoyed cutting paper snowflakes as a kid, you’ll love this grown up version! This beautiful paper bag wreath from Twelve On Main is made in a similar way.
This wreath would make a really lovely, subtle Christmas decoration – or just keep it up year-round!
And don’t feel you need to stop at making just one wreath. Just like snowflakes, your paper bag wreaths will probably turn out slightly different each time, so you can make as many as you like.
6. Recycle old paper bags into beautiful ribbon
Environmentally-friendly wrapping is all the rage these days, and for good reason! This is a really fun way to recycle some old paper bags into some beautiful, reusable ribbon. This paper bag ribbon from Roben-Marie is made with brown paper bags and scraps of lace.
This ribbon would look beautiful wrapped around a gift (which you can also wrap in brown paper!). Or, if you don’t have any gifts to wrap, there are any number of other things you could use it for instead.
7. Use paper bags for party favors
If you have a few matching paper bags in good condition, they make really simple, but really cute party favors, like these from Style Me Pretty. Fill them with a little gift – perhaps some homemade baked goods or a cute little candle – and decorate with ribbon.
I love the scalloped edge on the top of these bags – it would be really easy to replicate with some scissors and a tiny hole punch!
8. Make a DIY advent calendar
Clip some paper bags onto your wall or a big piece of cardboard, and you’ve immediately got a perfect DIY advent calendar – like this paper bag advent calendar from Monika Hibbs. All you need to do is write a number on the front of each bag, and fill them with little treats or gifts.
Whether it’s for your kids or just for yourself, it’s so nice to have something to look forward to each morning in the lead-up to Christmas. And if you pack the bags away neatly, you can reuse them again next year!
9. Wrap holiday gifts in paper bags
After you’ve completed your Christmas shopping, don’t feel you need to throw away all those big paper bags you got from the store – you can repurpose them into a personalized, environmentally-friendly wrapping paper!
Just cut the bags open so they create flat sheets of paper, and add your own design with pens. I love the snowflake design on this paper bag wrapping paper from Alisa Burke, but you can choose whatever design you like. Your gifts will look so pretty wrapped up in this recycled wrapping paper, with a bit of ribbon around the middle.
10. Use crumpled bags to make a fall-themed garland
If your paper bags are a bit old and crumpled, don’t worry they’re no good for crafts! We crafters are always good at making something out of nothing, and even the most wrinkled paper bags are perfect for making this fall-themed garland from A Wonderful Thought.
Just cut the crumpled bags into leaf shapes, stiffen them using fusible interfacing, and stitch veins onto the leaves. You can then hang the leaves on string, or glue them onto faux branches. The perfect repurposed fall decor!
11. Cut paper bags into star-shaped decorations
These paper bag stars from Delineate Your Dwelling are an easy and budget-friendly way to decorate your house for Christmas. Just fold up some old paper bags, make small cuts, then stick them all together to create the star.
They look so beautiful hung up alongside some paper snowflakes!
12. Use paper bags to make a paper vase
Grab some brown paper lunch sacks, stamps, and paint to decorate and customize these fun little paper bag vases. They’re perfect for fresh flowers or small house plants.
This craft would be so fun for the kids to help out with – give them color ink pads or paint, and let their imaginations run wild.
13. Make grocery bag paper journals
The options for decorating these paper bag notebooks are pretty much endless – paint, fabric and Mod Podge, tie with twine, or sewn together. These cute little notebooks can be used to taking notes, making lists, or keeping track of your to-do list.