Get triple use out of gift bags

I’m awash in gift bags now that the holidays are over, so I can’t imagine buying one ever again (plus I’m down on disposable wrapping in general). For some people, though, a new gift bag is part of the gift. From Jen:

My mother invented protocol for using gift bags, When she first gives a gift in a gift bag she buys, she doesn’t write on the attached tag. This gives the receiver the opportunity to re-use the bag again. To use it a third time, rip off that paper tag, and put on your own. This has saved me many trips running to the store for gift wrappings, as I have a small arsenal on hand now. Reuse reuse reuse!

Another great reuse for old gift bags — I cut them up for use in craft projects. The hard, shiny paper often works well as an embellishment for handmade cards. They’re good makeshift lunch bags. They also make good car totes…keep a few in the car to help kids gather things to bring inside after a trip.

Any other handy uses for old gift bags?


  1. Erin says

    I reuse smaller gift bags to carry my lunch to work. I can easily identify my lunch in the crowded fridge, and I can reuse the same bag many times.

  2. Alice S says

    We use the gift bags as grocery bags when playing “grocery store” or “Mommy-mart” with my little ones. They pretend to shop and I check them out bagging up their pretend food in a gift bag.

  3. MrsHaley says

    I use them instead of grocery bags when I have to return something to a friend, like kids’ hand-me-downs or the dish she left at my house after book club. Like @Erin, I also use them to pack a lunch because I don’t do it frequently so I don’t have an insulated lunch bag.

  4. ryan says

    This Christmas we started using the re-usable shopping bags from Whole Foods Market as our gifts bags. Two presents in one. Hopefully our friends will reciprocate and we can start a trend.

  5. says

    My wife and I always keep an eye out for canvas beach bags, purses etc to go on sale after the summer. Throughout the year we pick them up for no more than a dollar or two and use them for gifts. Like someone said above, two gifts i one!

  6. says

    Just the other day my husband had the idea to use a gift bag to corral all the pieces of a new toy my son had received. I even happened to have a sports-themed bag to match the sports theme of the toy.

  7. Snady says

    We cut the top of one of the pretty bags with one of the handles on, stuck a picture on the inside of the baby and Voila! Baby’s First Christmas ornament.

    We are still using birthday gift bags from 2 years ago for getting toys organized and keeping little toys int he car and shuttling things back and forth. Of course, when I buy a $1 toy from Target or the $ store, my kid loves opening the same bag for the 50th time, to see what special gift I got just for him.

  8. says

    This is pretty similar to what others have said, but we pack leftovers in them for friends to take home at the end of a dinner party.

  9. Kristen says

    1. If the bag is brown or a solid color, I cut it apart and wrap packages in it.
    2. Keeping toy “groups” together once original packaging is gone.
    3. Cut slits down the side and fill with onions or potatoes in my pantry for that dark and cool place they say you should store such things.
    4. Collecting hand-me-downs in the closet. When it’s full, it goes to my cousin.

  10. says

    I use one old gift bag to corral all the toys in the car.

    We also use the big ones that are getting beat up to collect our recyclables. The carrying handles make them easy to move about the various stations at our recycling center, and when they got too torn up to keep using, we recycle them.

  11. Lani says

    In my family, we reuse the same gift bag for multiple years. My mom gets the same bag (with different gifts) each christmas =) and after removing the gifts, gives the bag back for the next year. Of course, this only works if all the recipients are into reusing and you have a good place to store all the bags. And it only works if the new gifts will fit into the old bag =)

  12. Ann H. says

    Lunch bags! My daughter loves to take her lunch to school in reused gift bags (larger sizes are great to taking gym clothes to school, packing personal items for a sleepover, packing with canned goods for the food drive, and collecting the neighbor’s mail in while they’re on vacation…..)

  13. Danny says

    I definitely think the protocol for gift bags is ‘never’ writing names on them – that way they can just make their way ’round and ’round. Do you really remember the gift bag that you gave someone 3 years ago for their birthday? I’d be hard pressed to remember! Just tape the card to the outside of the bag and voila, card gets removed and bag is ready to go!

  14. mom, again says

    We also save the bags permanently! Over the years, we’ve gained several dozen in many sizes, enough that we only wrap those few which are out-sized or odd-sized. Though Santa is just as likely to simply put a bow on such items and display them at the front of the tree, or hide them behind everything.

    We also have several length of basic Christmas fabric which we fold around / toss over presents.