8 DIY Ways to Dress Up a Plain Paper Gift Bag

DIY gift bag ideas - green christmas gift bag homemade
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You surely know how to wrap a gift, but sometimes, using a gift bag is just better. Maybe the gift is oddly shaped, or maybe you want to include multiple items in one present. Maybe you're just tired of wrapping paper. Whatever the reason, there's no shame in using a gift bag—but that doesn't mean you have to settle for a basic store-bought gift bag.

These gift bag ideas prove that even the plainest paper bag can become something beautiful, and as an added bonus, making DIY gift bags are a fun, practical addition to the list of Christmas crafts you have planned to fill the open hours of this holiday season.

Picking Christmas gifts for everyone on your list is its own challenge, but any savvy gift-giver knows that presentation is a huge part of the total gifting package. Putting time and effort into wrapping or bagging your gifts makes the gift exchange even more of an experience, and using bags instead of gift wrap is one way to help your presents stand out. Unlike wrapping paper, gift bags are also reusable year after year if they're taken care of, so your DIY gift bags can be a sustainability effort, too.

Whether you're planning white elephant gifts or figuring out how to differentiate the gifts for your kids, creative gift bag ideas can help. Here, you'll see smart ideas for dressing up basic paper gift bags, plus DIY guides with the supplies and steps you need to make your bags shine.

Read on for eight creative gift bag ideas—even if you haven't finished your holiday shopping, you can get your gift bags ready to go.

Crafts developed by Morgan Levine.

01 of 08

Reindeer Gift Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Reindeer Gift Bag
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Brown paper lunch bag
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape
  • Cardstock
  • Glue
  • Red pom poms
  • Black marker

How-to:

  1. Start with the brown paper lunch bag. Pop out the sides of the bag so that the face of the bag is wider.
  2. Cut antlers out of the top half of the bag, and then refold the bottom portion back so it sits like a normal lunch bag.
  3. Insert the gift and use double stick tape to secure the bag closed.
  4. Add a thin strip of cardstock to make sure the antlers are rigid, and then secure them together.
  5. Glue on a pom pom nose and draw in eyes.
02 of 08

Snowflake Stamped Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Snowflake Stamped Bag
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Dark paper gift bag
  • White ink pad
  • Snowflake stamps (available at your local craft store)
  • Silver tissue paper (optional for an extra-festive look)

How-to:

  1. Stamp assorted snowflakes onto the bag. Arrange them in clusters to make it look like snowfall.
03 of 08

Homemade Tree Stamp Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Homemade Tree Stamp
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Large rubber eraser
  • Craft knife
  • Christmas tree stencil
  • Brown paper bag
  • White ink pad
  • Assorted gel pens

How-to:

  1. Using the craft knife, stencil and then carve a tree shape into a large rubber eraser, creating a stamp.
  2. Stamp the bag in a lined pattern using the white ink pad.
  3. Decorate trees with the gel pens. You can make little ornaments by dotting the trees, add tiny stars to the top, or just outline the shapes.
04 of 08

Spray-Painted Greenery Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Spray Painted Greenery
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • A sprig or branch of pine (one from your yard is fine)
  • Repositionable adhesive spray
  • Colorful, solid-colored paper bag
  • Spray paint in a metallic color

How-to:

  1. Spray the sprig or branch with the repositionable adhesive spray.
  2. Place the sticky side of the branch onto the gift bag. Place the bottom of the stem at one corner, and lay the branch diagonally across.
  3. Spray the entire bag with metallic spray paint and, when it dries, carefully peel back the branch.
05 of 08

Candy Stripe Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Candy Stripe Bag
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • A tall, narrow gift bag (aka a wine bag)
  • Colorful artist or masking tape

How-to:

  1. Create diagonal candy stripes down the front of the bag. You can use any pattern—we placed three close together, but you can evenly space all of them, like a candy cane.
  2. Repeat on the back of the bag.
06 of 08

Ribbon and Washi Tape Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Ribbon and Washi Tape Bag
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Solid-colored paper gift bag
  • Washi tape
  • Thin ribbon
  • Blank gift tag

How-to:

  1. Wrap one strip of washi tape vertically around the center of the bag. Wrap the ribbon around the bag, down the center of the washi tape. Tie a bow at the top to fasten the bag shut.
  2. Attach the gift tag to the front.
07 of 08

Small Bow Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Small Bags
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Small, colorful gift bags
  • Black felt-tip marker

How-to:

  1. Draw assorted bows and ties onto the front of the gift bags. We've included four styles for inspiration, but feel free to get creative. You can even use metallic paint pens for a festive ribbon look that will definitely stand out.
08 of 08

Cellophane Bag

Christmas gift bag ideas, DIY gift bags – Cellophane Bag
Emily Kinni

What you'll need:

  • Colorful tissue paper
  • Glue
  • Sequins
  • Festive stickers
  • Cellophane bag
  • Tape
  • Ribbon

How-to:

  1. Wrap a gift in tissue paper. Use several layers so that the gift doesn't show through, and you won't be able to tell if one sheet tears.
  2. Use small glue dots to attach sequins and festive stickers to the tissue paper bundle.
  3. Insert the bundle into a cellophane bag. Tape the bag shut and tie a ribbon around it.
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