How can I reuse or recycle old gift bags?

Gift bags are great alternative to wrapping paper because it’s a lot easier to reuse them, and amongst everyone I’ve ever spoken to about it, it’s generally accepted that people will reuse them to give similar sized gifts in the future.

But what about when they get a bit tatty to be recirculated again?

I’ve got one – made out of a light card instead of heavy paper – to keep my small, current crochet project out of the preying paws of cats, and I’ve seen big paper ones remade into smaller paper ones – cutting off the tatty edges and refolding it again.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by lusi)

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Christmas, household, items, packaging, paper & stationery, Valentines

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16 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle old gift bags?”

  1. You could decorate/design the bag with some ribbons or bows for the tattered ones. In the future, you should just keep all of them in one place-like a drawer. That’s what I do, and they all still look brand new! :)

  2. Lisa says:

    Once they are past gift giving beauty but still sturdy, I use them to take lunch to work. Makes a pretty lunch box.

  3. Lizzy says:

    if the folded edges have just worn out, you could use the card to cover a box (shoebox?) for storage maybe. I’m sure there a quite a few crafty uses too – cut out bits for card decoration , or christmas bauble type things?

  4. paperladee says:

    Our dentist’s office uses one to sit on top of the toilet tank and hold a spare roll of tissue. The bag used matches the decor of the bathroom. Neat idea!

  5. Amy says:

    It might be hard for you to imagine without seeing a picture, but when I was in middle school and high school, my mom and I would transform them into book covers, and the handle of the bag would be the handles to carry the book. If you want more details or a picture, you can email me at

  6. Trish says:

    You can always cut them into pieces and use them as backings for photos or embellishments for scrapbooking.

    Allow a child to have them for their pretend play.

    Use them as trash cans in your car.

    Fill with potpourri.

    Let children decorate them for use as mailboxes for Valentine’s.

    Cat toys.

  7. Clare says:

    I’ve got Christmas decorations stored in some that are too tatty for re-use but still pretty.

  8. Perda says:

    It’s not really a new use: my sister and I have this one pink gift bag that has been going between us for years. She gives it to me, then my challenge is to fill it again for her. the gift always has to be pink to match the bag and it has to cost less than £5. I guess the bag may look a little tatty, however we are having excellent fun with it by making it a challenge and a game. It is shortly going back complete with a pink manicure set from the Body Shop sale!

  9. Sarah says:

    I have tons of gift bags – paper bags from weddings most of the time, and I would either reuse it to present gifts for other people, use it as my lunch bag to work or simply use it to keep some items that I might need to use some time later. If there are no other usage, then I would flatten the bag and sell it with the newspapers to the recycling centre.

    I like the idea of using it as a trash can in car – thanks for that Trish.

  10. aischa says:

    if the pic’s are pretty I cut them into flat pieces and hang them on the wall
    u can use the cord as a hanger, or mount them onto card board or plywood or even frame them

    my litttle grand daughters glued christmas bags on plywood and then gave these pic’s as gifts to family and friends

  11. Rachel says:

    I use a large gift bag to store my spare wrapping paper and tags etc. Its a pretty purple and looks great on the shelf in my office.

  12. Elina says:

    I use a plastic gift bag in kitchen to store sorted waste (certain packages).

  13. Sara says:

    I store plastic bags in them. I label the gift bags so that i can quickly see which size the plastic bags are when i need them.

  14. Mzjazzy0ne says:

    I use gift bags as art, with a mat and nice frame., or wrapping books as added decor on a bookshelf.

  15. Uluska says:

    Store things in them, pack lunch, hide books, pack a birthday gift, donate. Use in scrap booking, crafts.

  16. nicole says:

    I cut them into little squares and use them as little decorative reminder notes

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