How to Create Paper Bags

Make your own gift bags out of recycled paper.
Christmas in a paper bag. image by Saskia Massink from

Making handmade paper bags is a good way to recycle old newspapers and wrapping paper. Showing children how to make their own paper bags is also a good way to teach them green habits. Carry groceries home from the supermarket in your homemade paper bags, use them as gift bags, or make paper puppets out of them. You can customize the bags however you want just by using different sizes and patterns of paper.

Make your own gift bags out of recycled paper.
Christmas in a paper bag. image by Saskia Massink from

Things You'll Need

  • Ruler
  • 2 Strips Of 7 ½ By ½-Inch Cardstock
  • Glue
  • 2 Sheets Of 17 By 11-Inch Paper

Squeeze a line of glue on one long edge of a sheet of paper that measures 17 by 11 inches. Smear it in an even coat 1 1/2 inches inward from the edge.

Place another sheet of paper the same size on top of the first one and press the glued edge firmly so that they become attached.

Position the paper horizontally so that the glued edge is at the top. Fold down 1 1/2 inches to make a flap along the top. Crease and unfold.

Coat one side of each of two pieces of cardstock that measure 7 1/2 inches by 1/2 inch with glue. Place the cardstock glued-sides-down on the newspaper so that they are end to end and their bottom edges line up with the crease you made in the previous step. There should be 1 inch of paper on each end that is not covered by the cardstock.

Coat the top sides of the cardstock pieces with glue. Fold the paper sticking out above the strips down to cover the cardstock. Press firmly. This is the top edge of the bag.

Fold the left edge of the paper over 1 inch. It will cover the end of the cardstock. Repeat for the right side. Crease and unfold.

Make a 5 1/2-inch flap on the left side of the paper. Make a 3-inch flap on the right. Crease these flaps. They will overlap 1 inch at the creases you made in Step 6.

Put glue on the front and back of the left flap. Insert it between the layers of the right flap and press firmly.

Put your arm through the bag that now has both ends open. Roll to one side and make a crease 3 1/2 inches from, and parallel to, one of the creases you already made. Press the whole bag flat to make another crease. The four creases you have now are the four corners of the bag.

Pick up two corners that are 3 1/2 inches apart. Line them up and press them together as you push the paper between them inside and flatten. Repeat for the other two corners so the bag lays flat with two small sides tucked inside.

Fold up a 2 1/2-inch flap at the bottom of the bag with all the layers. Now fold it in the opposite direction. Open the bag and stand it on a short side with the open bottom toward you.

Fold the flaps on the long sides so they overlap in the middle. Tuck the flaps on the short sides inside so they create triangles near each corner. The bottom should now be flat. Glue all these flaps in place. The bag is finished.


  • You can use any kind of paper for this bag, even newspaper. Craft or butcher paper makes a very sturdy bag.

    Punch two holes in the card stock at the top on each long side and tie yarn or string through the holes to make a handle.