How to Decorate Paper Bags

Updated February 21, 2017

Plain paper bags can be made into eye-catching gift bags or special occasion lunch or treat bags with just a little effort and creativity. An easy and enjoyable craft project for nearly any age, reusing paper bags is an economical way to present a gift and express your own personality.

Stamp them. Rubber stamps come in simple patterns or complex multicolour images. Stamping a paper bag can take it from the grocery store to the gift table in less than 10 minutes. Simply take a rubber stamp, ink it by pressing it into an ink tablet and apply it to the paper bag. Scatter stamps over the entire bag and mix stamp images for more interest.

Hand paint them with acrylic paints. Acrylic paints offer you the chance to paint a landscape, flower or simple birthday balloon to a brown or white paper bag. Kids can paint their hands and do hand prints, or the artist in the family can do a Mark Rothko reproduction. Use a paintbrush and the full range of acrylic paint colours to apply your image, but don't saturate the brush with water.

Glue on some accent paper. Faux gold leaf, patterned origami paper or scraps of handmade organic paper all make terrific small collages on a paper bag. Use a glue stick and apply paper in layers to create a design or to apply colour and motion to your paper bag. Limit your artwork to a square on the front of the bag for high style, or scatter pieces over the entire bag for a more fun confetti look.

Attach some craft store adornments. Self-adhesive foam letters and shapes or small wood pieces in animal or human shapes can be attached to a paper bag with glue to create a fun paper bag for kids. Spell out a name or just scatter some foam bumblebees over a lunch bag for a special day.

Reuse old greeting or postcards. Colourful flowers, classic landscapes or even cute or funny pet images from postcards or greeting cards can make a plain paper bag a real eye-catcher. Cut the front of the greeting card from the rest of the card, or crop card or postcard images. Glue the backs of cards with the glue stick and press onto the front centre of the paper bag.


When painting with acrylic paints on your paper bag, allow larger paint areas to dry before continuing your painting to eliminate saturation of the paper. Keep paints thick and avoid adding too much water from your brush.


Don't expect too much from a glue stick. Small wood adornments may need to be hot-glued onto the bag for an extra-secure hold.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper bags
  • Rubber stamps and ink
  • Acrylic paints and brushes
  • Scrap origami paper
  • Foam letters
  • Craft store adornments
  • Old greeting cards
  • Glue stick
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