Gifting from the Kitchen in Style {the QECH way}: Brown Paper Packages

Now you can trick out your canisters with the best of them, and transform your empty egg cartons into muffin holders. We’re going further into upcycling gift wrap territory by using an even lowlier receptacle: the lowly shopping bag. 

Not a plastic one. I haven’t figured out how to beautify those yet. No, I am speaking of the lovely, sturdy brown paper bags that you can find at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or even a few mainstream grocery stores.

And it doesn’t take much to beautify a brown paper bag, honestly. In fact, all you have to do is cut it apart and wrap it with the outside facing in. Does that make sense to anyone here? No? OK, I’ll try again.

Step by step transformation of a grocery bag into wrapping paper:

  1. Remove the handles. Just pull ’em off!
  2. Cut straight down along one corner of the bag, all the way to the bottom.
  3. From there, cut off the bottom of the bag.
  4. Lay the bag out flat, with the designs from the outside facing up.
  5. Lay your gift on top of the bag and wrap as you would any present.
Clear now? OK, good.
This works best if you are wrapping a box, which makes it a little more difficult for using to gift from the kitchen. It’s easy enough, though, to line a cardboard box with tissue paper and place carefully wrapped homemade goodies inside. Some things I think would work particularly well wrapped this way:
  • a collection of salt dough ornaments
  • homemade jam or other canned goods
  • a selection of homemade chocolates and truffles (you can find some great recipes in our HealthyHolidays free eBook!)
  • themed gifts such as a spaghetti dinner (with noodles and sauce), ice cream fixings, or movie night
And of course, it’s limited only by your creativity! Whatever you need to wrap up can be wrapped in this style. Furthermore you can dress it up in a lot of different ways. I had some fun when I was wrapping presents the other night for my family, coming up with some different ways to dress up the paper bag.

Use fancy or plain string and tie it in the old-fashioned way with a big ol' bow on top.

The easiest way to dress up brown paper: pretty fabric ribbon in any design or color. You can also write directly on the package in a coordinating marker or pen.

Cut apart old Christmas cards, and punch holes into them. Tie them onto the package for instant - and free - decoration.

Add natural elements - either real or fake - like cinnamon sticks, poinsiettas or sprigs of pine boughs.

Tie on a candy cane for embellishment. Other ideas: trinkets and small ornaments.

If you go to Trader Joe’s, their bags right now actually have some adorable designs on the side panels that make great gift wrap for small gifts! If you don’t have Trader Joe’s bags, you can accomplish the same thing by drawing designs with markers.You could also use stamps and other tools of the scrapbooking trader for a similar effect. (Hint: Set your kids to the task!)

Check out the fun print from the side panel of the Trader Joe's bag!

I find that the brown paper actually has a rustic elegance that is easily adaptable to both fun and glitzy looks. I even prefer it to wrapping paper, and plan to wrap the majority of my presents in it this year!
It’s almost as QUICK as using a roll of wrapping paper.
It’s almost as EASY: the paper is definitely more stiff and is therefore a little more difficult to work with. However, that same quality also makes it a lot sturdier.
It’s certainly CHEAP! I love taking trash and turning it into something useful and beautiful.
And it’s HEALTHY, I suppose. Healthy for the earth, at any rate.
Here are some more creative ideas for wrapping with what you have around the house from My Blessed Life.
Shared at Frugal Friday, and


  1. I too love the look of brown paper packages. I have always bought the roll of brown paper from the packaging section of the store. No more! I’ll have to go to TJ’s soon and pick up some things to get some pretty bags.

    • I have some I could share, lol. I just can’t bear the thought of throwing them away, so they end up in a huge stack in my laundry room! And I only used 2 (or maybe it was 3, but I think it was only 2) to wrap the presents you see here!

  2. Leigh Ann @ Intentional By Grace says:

    Anne, I feel like I keep saying the same thing, but you are so creative!!! What a great up cycle!! Keep up the great ideas.

  3. What a great idea! I don’t have many paper sacks because I usually bring my own. Maybe I won’t next time I go grocery shopping… :)
    Jenni recently posted..Movie Night In A Box: A Simple Gift Idea

    • Jenni – I have approximately 500 (slight exaggeration) cloth bags in my closet that I fully intend to bring to the store when I go grocery shopping. I have managed to remember to do so maybe 2 or 3 times! One of these days….

  4. This is such a creative idea! I will have to try this next time I get brown bags.

  5. Super cute! I’d love to try this!

  6. I love wrapping packages like this. Sometimes I will lay the brown paper across the table and let the kids stamp all over it before I wrap the gifts. Grandparents especially love that combination. 😉
    Mary recently posted..Roasted Green Beans

    • THat’s a great idea! For another gift-wrapping session, my DH drew pictures and our son colored them. The grandparents loved those, too :)

  7. We love doing this! But in my klutz-like state, mine don’t look nearly as nice. I love the cinnamon sticks on there!!! You rock Anne.
    Stacy Makes Cents recently posted..These are a Few of My Favorite…….Kitchen Tools

  8. I love brown paper packages tied up with string!
    Pam @ Ramblings of a Happy Homemaker recently posted..…And A Partridge In A Pear Tree!

  9. For smaller items, I buy a package of brown paper lunch bags (super-cheap) put in the gift, fold down the top, twice, punch two holes in the folded flap and thread a ribbon and tag through there, tie in a bow and voila! :)

  10. Anne, Those ideas are great! We love repurposing stuff to use as gift wrap :) Have a Merry Christmas!


  1. […] Gifting from the Kitchen in Style: Brown Paper Packages by Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. Use a sturdy brown paper bag for some of the loveliest gifts […]

  2. […] how you normally would. Tie it off with hemp string, raffia, festive ribbon, or even a candy cane like this, and voila, instant gift […]

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