Do It Yourself Gift Bag from Newspaper

Posted by hsimpsongrossman on March 14, 2014

There aren’t many things Better Half and I do agree on. He likes meat, I love vegetarian and dairy (appetizers, as he calls them). He’s always hot and I’m always cold (how I miss that summer when the AC wasn’t working). He is messy (to put it mildly) and I need order. I love Kieslowski, he loves Rocky. You get the picture. It’s a miracle we’re still together.

If I had to pick one issue which guarantees immediate nasty, sarcastic sparks between us two, it would have to be the issue of recycling. Yes, that’s right. That globally accepted and common means of giving back to mother earth. He despises it.

Here I am, champion of all dying sea turtles, collecting plastic bottles and bags, yet all he sees is clutter at the door (if he were only half as conscious to the clutter in the work room)!

Do it Yourself Paper Bag from Newspaper My Avid Recycling Apprentice
My Avid Recycling Apprentice

When I, thrilled to bits, sent him pictures of His Royal Highness in front of the first (and long overdue) glass recycling bin in Ra’anana, the immediate response was: “Saw one of those the other day. I was hoping you don’t notice them..”.

He thinks I don’t know that he throws food scraps and other organic waste into to the regular bin, rather than into my little precious brown organic garbage. Oh, how he detests this one. The first thing he does when we visit friends is check whether their brown garbage has been put to good use (storing detergents, laundry pegs, toys) or not. You can just imagine the victorious look on his face on the occasion he discovers they are “normal”.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper My Precious
My Precious

Yet his greatest nemesis is that blue bucket, my private little gray water reservoir (used for collecting cold shower water (you know, that first stream of freezing water that comes out while one waits for the hot water to arrive)). Forgetting to sneak it out of the bathtub before he gets into the shower, is as lethal as waving a red flag in front of a bull (yes, I do know it’s not the color but rather the movement that attracts the bull, thank you). As soon as I hear him yelling from our bathroom (“#^%$&*! that bucket again!” “I almost tripped over it! Can’t I enjoy a nice normal shower in my own house?”), I know I was caught red (blue) handed.

In fact, his farewell words to me, as he was leaving for a business combined with ski trip to the West Coast, were: “Hey, you will have two whole weeks with your bottles and buckets. Enjoy!”

With his sweet blessing in the back of my mind and the festival of Purim approaching, I was determined to find a new method to express my green side.

Purim, to those among you, dear invisible readers who don’t know, is a Jewish holiday commemorating the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from yet another plot to annihilate them all. One of the ways this festive day is observed is by giving food gifts to friends, in order to bring joy to others. Another custom of Purim is to dress up (our version of Halloween).

Unfortunately, something went completely wrong with Purim and my favorite holiday turned into my worst nightmare.

Cheap polyester costumes, mass produced God knows where, took the place of my childhood’s carefully planned and handmade ones. Every second kindergartner is dressed up as Bob the Builder, and they all look the same, while in my days each hand crafted costume was unique and no two Queen Esthers looked alike.

Store bought boxes, fancy bags and countless disposable dishes filled with loads of store bought snacks replaced the durable dishes heavily laden with beautiful homemade pastries, comforting kugles and jars with homemade jams and pickles of my childhood. Sadly, as junk food is so cheap and accessible nowadays, one can give every imaginable mini sized snack in ready-made fancy boxes (which you don’t have to bother yourself with returning to their rightful owner once emptied) to gazillions of friends.  Instant Purim.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper
Group Picture

As far away as my business job days seem to be, the financial paper is still the only one I read.  As I was flipping through the headlines, I had a revelation, out of the blue– rather than place the newspapers in the appropriate bin once I’m done reading them, I can cut the middleman and recycle them myself! I can make gift paper bags out of my own newspapers and save one or two trees on Purim!

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Task Force
Task Force

As soon as the idea hit me, there was no turning back. I watched every available YouTube video on the subject and went through numerous DIY websites. After a few unsuccessful attempts I finally zeroed down on a design that worked out perfectly. The instructions were coherent and it didn’t take long (about 20 minutes?) to make each bag. I changed the original measurements to fit my needs and focused on one or two stages which were a bit unclear at first. My first test subject for this project was crafty Wild beast. He followed my verbal instructions and produced a perfect bag on his first attempt. In fact, he proudly packed his Purim food gift to a class mate in it this morning.

Oh, and by the way, Better Half proudly showed the picture of my first newspaper paper bag to each and every willing skier in the ski resort he was visiting. I guess that kind of gesture explains how come we are still together.  He also took most of the pictures featured in this post.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Homemade

I tried to focus my pictures on those parts which were a bit tricky for me at first, and I suggest that you also look at the pictures in the post I liked the most for the more self-explanatory ones.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper My Favorite
Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper My Favorite

Do it Yourself Gift Bag from Newspaper, adapted from How About Orange

You will need:

2 sheets of newspaper, at least 23” wide and 15” long
A pair of scissors
glue (I used a stick glue)
Cardboard (I used sheets from my kids’ drawing paper block)
Some cord for the handles


Stack two sheets of newspaper on top of each other for extra sturdiness.

Cut out a rectangle that’s 23” wide and 15” tall. If your paper has a picture which you would like to appear on the outer sides of the finished bag, flip the paper over so the colorful area would be on the bottom. Cartoons as well as Travel, Arts and Home Design sections would make colorful, interesting bags. I resisted the temptation to buy a different, more colorful paper than the business one we have so as not to defy the purpose of this project.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Piece of Cake
Piece of Cake

Fold a flap 2″ down from the top. Fold a flap 3″ up from the bottom. Then measure off and make vertical folds in the places shown in the third picture in the original What About Orange post, but remember that the numbers stated therein are smaller than those I used. The front and back panels should be 6.5″ wide, the side gussets (those inward folds on each side of the bag) are 4.5″ wide, and you’ll need a 0.75″ flap for gluing the bag together.

Cut two pieces of cardboard into 6.25″ x 1.5″ rectangles, then glue them on the widest two panels just under the top fold. These will reinforce the rim of the bag. Glue the top flap down along the length of the bag, covering the cardboard rectangles. Since the bag is two-ply, you’ll need to glue both flap pieces down one at a time.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Folding the Top Flap Over Cardboard
Folding the Top Flap Over Cardboard

Put glue on the outside of the 0.75″ tab and bring the left-most panel over to form the body of the bag, so that the left edge of the left panel covers the outer side of the folded edge of the flap on the right hand side.

Make sure to open the bottom fold prior to gluing the edge, or else not only will you shorten your bag, but you will also not understand where you went wrong (that’s where I failed the first time). Add a little more glue to make sure the outermost sheet of newspaper gets tacked down, too.Newspaper Paper Bag Itai2

Upend the bag so the 3″ flap is now up. Fold the short sides inward as if you were wrapping a present. I found it easier to lay the bag on its side and crease those folds against the table.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Just Like Gift Wrapping
Just Like Gift Wrapping

Put glue on both (bottom) flaps and fold them inward to form the bottom of the bag. Standing the bag upright and pressing down from the inside will help to secure them.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Cardboard Lining
Cardboard Lining

Cut a rectangle piece of cardboard to 6″ x 3.75″ and glue it to the bottom of the bag to reinforce it (and to cover up any inaccuracies, in case you are a perfectionist).

Punch holes in the rim of the bag, adding eyelets if you like, and string some cord through the holes to form handles. Knot each end of the cord so it won’t pull out through the holes. Double knots might be useful, depending on the width of the string you are using.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Punching Bag
Punching Bag

If you want to store your bag flat, pinch the top together, gradually and gently fold-in the sides, and bring the bottom up so that it lies flat.

Do it Yourself Paper Bags from Newspaper Neatly folded
Neatly folded

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