1. Use them to dust off out-of-season shoes and out-of-favor stuffed animals stored in the closet.
2. Make parachutes for action figures to heighten the adventure at playtime. Cut out a square from a bag, and poke a hole in each corner. Cut four pieces of string (or dental floss) at least a foot long and loop one through each hole, tying a knot to secure it; tie the other end of each string around the toy.
3. Keep bags in the glove compartment to use as trash bags on road trips―or, if you have kids, trips just down the road.
4. Donate them to food pantries, libraries, day-care centers, or hospitals that take them.
5. Use them to stuff pet beds or throw pillows that have thick fabric covers.
6. When packing a suitcase, use them to keep shoes from soiling clothes and dirty things from clean ones.
7. To protect small outdoor plants from frost at night, cover them with bags and tie the handles tightly around the pots. Be sure to take the bags off in the morning.
8. Wrap drinking glasses and other fragile items when you’re moving. A layer of three or four bags around each piece provides enough protection and won’t leave nasty newspaper ink or annoying pieces of Styrofoam all over everything.
9. Cover your car’s side mirrors and windshield wipers if you park outside in winter and you won’t have to scrape ice off in the a.m.
10. Protect work surfaces at arts-and-crafts time. Slit bags up the sides, spread them out flat, tape them together, and lay them across any table or surface your kids are getting creative (i.e., making a mess) on.
1. An Everymom standby: Use grocery bags to make schoolbook covers your kids can label and decorate to their art’s delight. They’ll protect the books from the mozzarella that falls from the pizza or the exploding highlighter in the backpack.
2. Cut out eyeholes and decorate the bag to make a mask. The shape cries out SpongeBob.
3. Enlist bags with handles for trick-or-treat duty. Let the kids have at them with glitter and glue, markers and paints, stickers, and anything else in the art box.
4. Make place mats kids can color on while waiting for dinner, just like in those family-friendly restaurants.
5. Place unripe peaches, plums, or green tomatoes in a bag. The closed bag traps ethylene, the natural gas released by the ripening fruit (while still allowing a little ventilation), which helps it ripen faster.
6. Make a kite. Punch a hole in each corner of the open end of a bag. Tie a long piece of string in each hole, gather the ends, and glue some streamers onto the open end. The natural shape of the bag will catch the wind, which will lift it into the air.
7. To add an extra layer of weed deterrence to your garden, place plain bags, with no dye, on the soil around plants before adding mulch.
8. Stand paper bags upright and use them as receptacles for separating recyclables.
9. Crumple a bag into a tight ball and use it to dab paint on your walls for a great faux-textured finish.
10. Cut bags into strips, then use tape to make chains of interlaced circles for party decorations. Colors are nice, of course, but grocery-bag brown may just fit your theme (Save the Earth, Willy Wonka Wonderland…).