Hi guys! It's Mandi, from Making Nice in the Midwest. Sometimes before a party, you can find me scurrying around our house in a tizzy because I forgot to buy wrapping supplies for a gift that I'm supposed to be taking with me! I'm not always that forgetful, but when I am, being able to quickly whip up a pretty little gift bag sure is a relief. If I have a little extra time, I'll make a few gift bags at once, so that next time I'll be sure to have one or two at the ready.
Sometimes you just don't have a nice box to use when wrapping a present, or maybe you just want to give the gift inside of a specially handmade bag, but regardless of your reasons, knowing how to make a professional looking gift bag is a great skill to have. These bags can be fashioned out of any patterned wrapping paper you have around, or you can paint kraft paper as I've done here. Check out the instructions below to learn how to make your own.Supplies:
- Suitably sized box
- Glue (preferably a glue stick)
- Hole punch
- Ribbon or rope
- Painter's masking tape
- Non-corrugated cardboard (You may also use cardstock, but chipboard is too thick.)
- Round foam paint dabbers
You may be wondering why this project involves boxes if the point of making a gift bag is to wrap a gift when you don't have a properly sized box handy. Well, I enjoy giving nice-looking gifts, and I just deplore the thought of people opening my beautifully wrapped gift only to find a junky looking, marked-up shipping box in between the beautiful wrapping paper and their gift. It's just not pretty. So even if they're the perfect size, I don't like to use shipping boxes for gift giving. They do, however, make great forms for making gift bags! Plus, if I only have one suitably sized box (that happens to look nice enough to hold a beautifully wrapped gift) but plan to wrap multiples of the same gift, I can use that one box as a form for making multiple gift bags.
If you are filling your gift bag with heavy contents, you will need to reinforce the handles and stabilize the bottom of the bag. If you are using your gift bag for a lightweight present, you may skip steps one, two, ten, eleven, and twelve.
Step One: Lay the box on its end on top of the non-corrugated cardboard or card stock and trace around it with a pencil.
Step Two: Cut out the rectangle you traced, and then cut out another one that's a bit smaller and skinnier than the first one. Cut that second, smaller rectangle in half length-wise. The first large rectangle will be used as a stabilizer for the inside bottom of the gift bag. The two skinny lengths you cut from the second rectangle will be used to reinforce the handles of the bag. They should be no wider than two inches.Step Three: Lay your box onto the unrolled paper and cut out a length of the paper that leaves about three inches overhang on each end of the box.
Step Four: On one side of the cut-out wrapping paper, fold down about two inches of the edge of the wrapping paper and make a crease with the edge of your thumb.Step Five: Position your box right up to the edge of the crease you just made and wrap the paper around it, so that the seam is on one of the edges of the box, not on a face of the box. Use a glue stick to close off this seam. If you're having trouble getting the glue stick to hold the paper, you can use painter's tape to hold it in place until the glue sets up. Beware of using wet glue because it might make your paper wavy.
You can make a squattier version of this bag by using the same box for the form but placing the creased edge of your wrapping paper only halfway up the box. Make sure there's only a 3-4 inch overhang left at the other side of the box for the next step.Step Six: Stand up your box so that the creased edge of the wrapping paper is facing down. You have about a 3-4 inch overhang of paper facing upward that you will close up just as if you were wrapping a gift. I like to do this by pushing in the sides of the paper and creasing the triangles of paper that are left sticking up, as shown in the above left image. Then I push down those triangular flaps and glue then into place, making sure to only put glue where the paper touches paper, not the box inside. Again, you may need painter's tape to hold the paper down while the glue sets up.
Step Seven: Pinch each corner of the bag with your index fingers and thumbs to make creases at the edges. This will make the bag look more finished when you remove the box. You can recrease it later, but it's a good idea to get properly placed creases set in at this point while the box is still inside.Step Eight: If you want to paint the wrapping paper, this is the time to do it. I simply used a round foam paint dabber, dipped it into gesso (and because gesso is thicker than plain white paint, it didn't make my paper wavy), dabbed off the excess paint onto the gesso lid, and then dabbed the foam onto the kraft paper. Gesso doesn't take too long to dry, so I was able to work my way all the way around the bag without waiting for the paint to dry on one side. You can also use markers to decorate the bags. Get creative and have fun!
Step Nine: When the paint has dried, wiggle out the box from inside the wrapping paper and crease the sides of the bag, as shown in the above right image. You don't need to do this all the way down the sides, just the top half of the sides.Step Ten: Put glue on one side of your cardboard or cardstock pieces that you cut out in step two.
Step Eleven: To stabilize where the handles of your bag go, insert the skinny strips of glued cardboard or cardstock under the folded edge of the top of your bag, and then press the glued cardboard into place.Step Twelve: Place the larger rectangular piece of cardboard into the bag, glue-side-down, to stabilize the bottom of the bag.
Step Thirteen: Punch two evenly spaced holes in the top of your bag, being careful not to punch a hole into the creased sides of the bag. You can punch through the front and back of the bag at once so that the holes are even with each other. This is why you shouldn't use chipboard as the handle stabilizer, because unless you have a heavy duty hole puncher it'll be very difficult to punch through all of the layers of chipboard and paper.
Step Fourteen: Cut two lengths of ribbon that are about ten inches long (or however long you wish), placing each end through a hole and knotting it into place. If your ribbon is too small to keep from popping out of the bag's holes, even when knotted, you can string a bead between the knot of the ribbon and the hole in the bag to keep it in place.For finishing touches, I cut out red hearts from cardstock, punched a hole in each, and strung the ribbons through the heart tags before knotting the ribbons onto the gift bags. Coordinating tissue paper made the gift wrap complete!These little gift bags would be fun to make during a craft night with friends. Everyone can get really creative with how he or she decorates each bag. Of course, you can always go out and buy gift bags at the store, but nothing beats a handmade wrapping job!
Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson