The Big Green Parenting Experiment

raising a healthy family in a toxic world

recycled newspaper gift bags

We get sooo many newspaper flyers in the mail without even subscribing to any newspapers. It’s mind numbing. They go directly from the mailbox to the recycling bin, day after day. Well, not anymore! This is a very simple, crafty little way to give your newspapers new life! I am totally in love with this idea! I spotted it on pinterest and knew that there was going to be plenty of these in my future! The possibilities are endless. I just can’t wait to add personal touches onto these fab little gift bags.

The original post on pinterest is from How About Orange who received a recycled newspaper shopping bag from a retailer. She was inspired to create one of her own. Now I am inspired! Let’s do this.

What you’ll need:

  • newspaper
  • scissors
  • card stock
  • glue stick
  • twine
  • ruler

I started out by following the directions for the bag from the link on Pinterest. She walks you through creating the smaller bag, pictured above on the right. Once I mastered that one, I was ready to try variations.

Today’s project: a wine gift bag for a birthday party.

Wine gift bags are a bit easier since they are square so there is little measuring involved. You can easily customize to the particular bottle if you’d like. Today I’ll be making a bag for riesling which is generally a taller, thinner bottle than most so I am customizing a bit.

Bottle diameter = 3.5″
Total newspaper width needed – 15″ (3.5″ x 4 sides + ~1 inch for seam)

Bottle height = 16″
Total newspaper height needed – 19-20″
(16″ + 1″ for top edge + 2″ for bottom of bag)

Lay out two sheets of newspaper on a table or flat surface. Measure out the size of the newspaper you will need, in this case 16″ x 19″. Cut out. Tip: I found it easiest to glue the two sheets of newspaper together before cutting.

Once your cut piece is laid out, you will start folding, as follows:

1. Make a 1″ fold on one of the side edges. This will be where you glue the seam of the bag.

2. To make four equal width sides, fold the opposite edge of the paper in to the fold that you just made.

3. Fold in half again in the same manner.


4. Fold 1″ to 1.5″ on the side that will be the bag opening AND make a 2″ fold on the opposite edge, which will become the bottom of the bag.

5. Next you’ll need to cut two pieces of card stock: 1″ x the width of the side of the bag, in this case 3.5″. Glue them along the top edge of the bag in the first and third sections. These will help support the top of the bag when opened.

20121207-083447.jpg6. Next you will glue down the entire ‘flap’ on the top side of the bag. This will hide the card stock and give the top edge a finished look.

20121210-193246.jpg7. Now to form the shape of the bag, glue the first fold that you made on the side edge to the interior of the other edge. You can start to see it coming together.

20121210-193440.jpg8. And now to create the bottom of the bag, you simply fold the opposite sides in as if wrapping a gift and then glue the two remaining sides down one by one. I failed to take pictures of this process since both hands are necessary to make it work. I did find it easiest to rest the bag on a table while doing this step. Here is the completed bottom:

20121210-193858.jpg9. To complete the bag, you’ll just need to add some finishing touches. Measure a piece of card stock to glue on the bottom inside of the bag for additional strength. Poke (or punch) two small holes in the reinforced top sides of the bag, insert twine and tie off to make handles.

Tada! A recycled newspaper gift bag! (The bag was just tall enough, despite how it looks in the picture. Next time I’ll add that extra inch.) I added some lime green tissue paper for a splash of color. So cute! I visualize making these with Schy for holiday gifts, maybe with red or green stamped snowflakes on them and ribbon handles! You can even use different appropriate sections of the newspaper for particular people: sports, real estate, etc.
I am totally digging these bags. They’re super creative (super cheap) and can easily be personalized! And it’s a useful way to use some of that newspaper that everyone has laying around! Try it out and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your creative ideas.


baby loves to repurpose!

Just a quick tip to share with all of you moms out there…

As I was cleaning the playroom and putting toys away earlier, I was cracking up at Schy’s enthusiasm over items that aren’t really toys at all.  I love this because it makes new use out of things that basically would’ve been garbage otherwise.  It also encourages creativity, which I loooooove!  I can’t wait until she’s a little older and we can get into some really dirty creativity together… finger paints, play doughs, moon mud!  Yes, yes, YES!!!

I read a blog a while back, possibly as far back as during my pregnancy, that offered some great suggestions for simple playthings.  I would gladly credit her, but my memory has been lacking a bit since Schy was born.  (I used to remember everything.)  So, in this post, the writer talks about saving the plastic twist-off lids from the jars of grocery items that we all have in the house, peanut butter, orange juice, peanuts, etc.  Apparently, the colorful plastic circles are very exciting to young minds and hands.  I thought, wow, that’s a great idea!  What the heck!  They’re going to be washed and placed into the recycling bin anyway, why not start putting them aside for Schy to play with someday?  And so I began to save.

Well, the time came about a month ago.  Schy was professionally mobile at this point and getting into everything, especially in the kitchen.  I was trying to prepare dinner and keep her entertained at the same time and having some difficulty.  I happened to notice this crazy tower of plastic caps that I had been saving, grabbed them and tossed them onto the kitchen floor.  Her face lit up!  She quickly scrambled to them and scooped up as many as she could hold, chewed them, placed one inside another, threw them around… it was awesome!  She was literally entertained for 25-30 minutes!  I was able to finish dinner and be entertained by her delight in the process.  They have now become part of the family and it makes me smile every time I toss them into the toy basket.  Even after her birthday party and the introduction of countless fancy new toys, she still loves these things and plays with them nearly every day.

It’s so amazing to watch a little mind at work playing with simple, colorful plastic circles.  I am so glad that I saved them.  Now I need to work on the color variety a bit.  We are creatures of habit when it comes to groceries, so we’ll have to expand our horizons based on the color of the product lids!  So, seriously, give this a try.  Your kids will love them, I promise.

Any other simple toy suggestions?  Schy and I would love to hear them!


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