Introduction: Grocery Bag Wrapping Paper

There's no need to purchase wrapping paper. Make your own out of brown paper grocery bags! The results are unique, and the process is fun and quick.

In this Instructable I decorate the wrapping paper with animal patterns using a Sharpie felt pen and acrylic paint, but you can decorate your wrapping paper with stamps, stickers, crayons, spirographs, glitter… get creative!

Step 1: Supplies

  • Brown paper bag(s)
  • Acrylic paints (in the photo it shows watercolor, but I ended up using acrylic)
  • Black Sharpie pen
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint tray
  • Scissors

Step 2: Cut Up the Bag

Begin cutting the bag in one of the corners seams. Cut down the length of the bag until you get to the bottom. Then cut around the bottom of the bag until you have cut the bottom rectangle out. You are left with a long rectangle.

Step 3: Remove the Handles

The handles are usually glued down. Carefully pull off the handles, one side at a time. Hold the bag around the place where you are pulling so you don't accidentally rip the bag itself. They should come off with minimal damage to the bag.

Step 4: Draw the Pattern (First Try)

Decide what you'd like to draw. I've been drawing this generic bird since I was little, so I went with that. As you can see, I drew each bird in its entirety before moving on to the next one.

Step 5: Draw the Pattern (Second Try)

But I found when making the second sheet of wrapping paper that it works better if I do the drawing assembly line-style. So I drew all the turtle shells for a whole row first, which helped me maintain more consistent spacing and size. Then I went back over that same row and drew all the legs for that row, then the heads, then the eyes, then the shell patterns, and last the tails. I recommend this method — it worked well.

Step 6: Wrap the Present

Choose a box size that the wrapping paper sheet will fit (or else plan to tape two pieces together — but do this before you draw your pattern!). The turtle-covered box is 10.75" x 8.5" x 4.5", and I figure you could probably cover a box a little bigger than that and still be fine.

Important: If you want to decorate your present the way I have, choosing just one object in the pattern to color in, now is the time to carefully position the top of the box on the wrapping paper so that the object you want to color in is positioned in the spot you would like it to be in.

I'm not going to go into detail about how to wrap a box, but amalkhan's How to Gift Wrap Instructable does a pretty good job if you need to improve your wrapping skills.

Be sure to cut off any excess paper that you don't need, as this has the potential to make your package more lumpy looking. The word I keep in mind when gift wrapping a box is crisp. I want the folds to look crisp and the paper to be pulled tight. I did an okay job here. Brown paper bags don't hold folds quite as nicely as commercial wrapping paper, so I did the best I could. :)

Step 7: Paint

Now that your present is wrapped, you can paint the object you'd like in color. Here I painted this cute little bird yellow with an orange beak.

That was pretty easy, but keep in mind that the more lines your object has, the longer it will take to paint around the lines. The turtle took much longer than the bird to paint for this reason.

Step 8: Add a Ribbon or Bow

Choose a nice contrasting color ribbon or bow, and you're done!

I actually prefer to wrap Christmas presents in paper that is not Christmas-patterned (And since we're on the topic, what's going on with the presents wrapped in present-patterned wrapping paper?! Meta. Weird.) Yeah, non-season-specific paper is where it's at for me. If you're headed to a white elephant party, you can get even more adventurous with the pattern.

Have fun! If you make your own wrapping paper, I would love to see it. Please share photos in the comments below.

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