Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My first tutorial! Make your own gift bag box!

Doot doo dooo DOOOT!

(That is my trumpet noise.)

I decided to show you how to make a craft of your own! Its my first attempt at a tutorial so bear with me - and if anything is confusing or you have any suggestions, please do let me know so I can fix it and make future ones tip top!

I like to make crafts, I like reusing/repurposing/recycling, and I like free stuff, so if I can do incorporate all of these things into one new thing, its AWESOME! Not only does it keep the original ingredients out of the garbage, it prevents you from having to purchase new gift bags or wrapping paper, keeping that out of the landfill of the future! I know that trying to change the future is a risky endeavor - I've seen Terminator 1,2, and 3 - but I think this one is for the good of the planet so I think its ok.
This craft uses stuff you have, so its pretty much free, unless you've run out of glue or something, but they you can use it again so its really not too bad.

These directions are pretty loose - you can customize it based on whatever decorative materials you have, so this is just a basic outline, but feel free to go crazy and make it your own!


  • Empty paperboard box (like a cereal box or similar, depending on the size of the item you are packaging)
  • Glue - (I use a combo of rubber cement, mod podge, and a hot glue gun, but you can work with what you have/like)
  • Paper - leftover construction paper, magazines, wrapping paper, or whatever you like!
  • Ribbon or a long strip of fabric
  • Embellishments: glitter, buttons, sequins, fabric, photos, paper, paint, etc! Check this out for inspiration, or to print out and add to your creation!
  • Single hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Pinking schears, if you are using fabric (optional)
Here we go!

Clip the tabs off the open end of your box with your scissors. If you want to make it shorter, you can cut down some of the top too.

The hardest part: decide what you want your bag to look like.

I choose a focal point or color scheme and go from there. If you are painting your box, go for it. If you want to make a collage from magazines, gather your cuttings and trim them to your liking. If you'll have a larger item like a photo or picture, trim it down to size. I like to cut it a little longer than the box so I can tuck the ends inside, but you can use a raw edge or decorative scissors to make it funky too. If its a cool box you can reveal parts of it too if you would like.

Select how you'd like to decorate your background and do that first. Paint it, or glue down one or more pieces of paper, followed by any larger flat decorations. Let the glue dry. If you need to hold the paper in place while it dries, use paper clips.

I like to mod podge the outside to seal everything in - this makes the final product last longer, so it can be used again, and it smooths down any edges that might stick up if you've attached multiple pieces of paper to your box. Its not mandatory though.

(Oh, I did try to mod podge a box after painting it with tempera paint, and then attaching clippings on top - not a good move. The paint leaked through the paper, onto the ribbon I'd attached, and everything. Don't do this.)
Let everything dry. I'm always impatient and try to move ahead before its done, but the end result will be so much nicer if you just give it time. You can add another coat of mod podge if you like, and let that dry too.

If you want, you can trim the top of the box in a zig zag or wavy design with your scissors. If you do, make sure the skinny ends are relatively even for the next step.

Punch one hole on each skinny side of the box. Measure a length of ribbon or a long strip of fabric to the length you'd like the handle to be, add a couple of inches, and cut. (If you're using fabric you can cut with pinking shears so it doesn't fray). Knot one end of the ribbon (or fabric) and feed the unknotted end through the hole, from the inside of the box to the outside, right side up (if there is a difference). Pull gently until the knot hits the inside of the box.

Slip the unknotted end of the ribbon through the other hole from the outside of the box to the inside, making sure your ribbon isn't twisted, and pull it most of the way through. Knot the end that is now inside the box, and pull the ribbon until both knots are against the inside of the box.
Tuck this handle inside your box to keep it out of the way for the next bit.

Now, we can add some 3-D embellishments! I use a hot glue gun and add ribbon around the box, but you could also glue on fabric, buttons, sequins, glitter or any other light decorative element that sparks your fancy. Let it dry, and you're gift bag is ready to be filled with fun! What a great way to give your handmade crafts the presentation they deserve.

There are a million ways you could adapt this for to any occasion - it would be fun to have kids decorate their own for a goody bag for a birthday party, or make something special for Halloween trick or treating. You could make up a bunch of smaller ones for a baby or bridal shower using mini cereal boxes - the options are endless! Have fun and happy crafting.


  1. Thanks! I'm glad you dig them - hope to have more soon.

  2. I looove this idea! I am entering our birthday season around here and I am going to have so much making these! Thanks!