Life Boost

Tue, Dec 15, 2020

An Eye for Design: DIY Gift Wrap

Sometimes when you are working on creative projects, you can get stuck.

When I am designing graphics for the MAH, and it’s not coming together, I like to use a layering technique to break me out of a creative slump. By layering a few elements of art & design like color, pattern, and texture you create a lot of visual interest and it’s a simple way of making a project look finished and pulled together.

This technique can also be applied to art and craft. Below you'll find step-by-step directions to make DIY wrapping paper by upcycling a paper grocery store bag that you may have around the house since the pandemic restrictions on reusable bags.

This project is one of the many ways people are using their creativity during quarantine. You can look forward to seeing more art made in these pandemic times in our upcoming community-sourced exhibition, In These Uncertain Times which is set to open in Early 2021.

How to Make DIY Recycled Gift Wrap



You’ll need:

  • A paper bag
  • Scissors
  • Paint Brush
  • Acrylic or Tempera paint

*Note: I found that a darker, antique gold was very subtle. A brighter gold paint has greater contrast and shows up on the brown paper more clearly.

Optional Add-Ons

  • String, Ribbon, or Bow
  • Gift Tag (Make your own by cutting shapes out of paper. You could also use paper snowflakes from the Community Craft: Wishy Wonderland)
  • Optional: Washi tape, pine tree sprigs, eucalyptus clippings, or dried flowers
  1. Cut the paper bag down the fold of one side. Cut out the bottom of the bag. Remove handles. This will leave you with a rectangular piece of paper.
  2. Paint a pattern on the paper by repeating a simple shape. I used circles, dashes, diagonal lines, stars, and trees.
Newslettter 3

Let dry, and wrap your present. If you need ideas, see our gift guide!

Then we start layering. The painted paper adds the pattern in this composition (your present). A string or bow adds texture and dimension, and the gift tag, washi tape, snowflake, or greenery adds color (and more texture).

Play with the positioning, add more to make it fun or whimsical, or pare down to make it simple and elegant.


Final Step: Admire your handiwork.

I hope this inspires you to get crafty with your paper bags and provides you with a simple strategy to help with any creative project.

Do you want more environmentally conscious content? Explore how artists are addressing the climate crisis in our exhibition, Beyond the World’s End.

Related Reads