This is the time of year when you suddenly find yourself with a huge stash of paper grocery bags, either from all the extra runs to the store for holiday gatherings or from ordering a ton of takeout because it’s too darn cold to go out. Sure, you could just recycle them, but there are plenty of ways to reuse them that I bet you haven’t thought of.
1. Line your trash can. This is perhaps the most practical, but by inserting a paper bag into your trash can, you can cut down on plastic use, and give your bag a second chance. Of course, maybe don’t dispose any liquid-y trash to prevent a future mishap on the way to the dumpster…
2. Use as a recycling bin. Similarly, you can hang on to a bag or two during your holiday activities as a receptacle for booze, cans, etc.
3. Use them as storage bins. If your bags are in good shape, you can use them for storage and organization in pantries and linen closets. Just paint your favorite color, and roll down to the size of your choice.
4. Send your guests home with leftovers. Snag one of your takeout bags so your guests aren’t left awkwardly juggling a handful of Tupperware.
5. Make place mats. Cut out rectangles from your bags and use them as disposable placemats. If you’re afraid of coming across too derelict, use a paint pen to customize each place setting. Or save your recycled placemats for the kids table, complete with packs of crayons to keep them entertained while you enjoy your much-deserved adult time.
7. Make a planter pot cover. If you have smaller brown paper bags, make custom planters using paint and/or paint pens. They just might make the perfect hostess gift or party favors.
8. Weave a hanging planter. That’s right, you can cut up your bags into strips and weave them together for a hardly-recognizable recycled planter.
9. Wrap up a bouquet. Give the gift of fresh flowers and gussy up the presentation by rolling them into a cut paper bag. Tie with a ribbon or string and you’re done!
10. Line a mini Christmas tree. No room for a full-size tree? Buy a mini. No tree stand or tree skirt to go with it? Use a paper bag. And add gold decals for good measure.
11. Use them for a handmade wreath. Dress up your door with a wreath made entirely out of cut paper bags.
12. Sew handmade ornaments. Cut your grocery bag and stitch your own tree decorations. Buttons and gold thread are a must.
13. Craft your own cards and envelopes. No need to spend $5 a person on holiday cards – make your own using an envelop pattern like this one.
14. Make gift tags. Cut out the shape of your choice, punch a whole and tie on to all your gifts this season. No more mistaking Jane’s Christmas lingerie for Joey’s wool socks…
15. Create your own holiday gift wrap. Trader Joe’s holidays bags work particularly well for this.
16. Stitch stockings. Sure you can sew paper, so why not make your very own stockings this year? Just make sure they don’t hang too close to the fire…
17. Fireplace sachets. Speaking of fires, you can use them to make cinnamon-scented sachets to give your hearth all the holiday feels.
18. Construct a pendant lamp. Yes, you can make a lamp out of a recycled grocery bag. If you want it to look less crafty, give your bag a coat of metallic paint.
29. Cover your books. Turn your ordinary books into a cohesive set by covering them in paper cut to size.
20. Make your own journals. Give your kids a place to write their thoughts or sketch with hand-sewn brown paper journals.
21. Decoupage your floors & walls. Go big or go home, right? If you’ve been hanging onto more than just a few brown paper bags, boy do I have a project for you…It may not be for everyone, but you have to admit, it’s an epic way to reuse your waste.