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Paper Bag Book Ideas

Updated on November 7, 2015
Photo by damoiselle.
Photo by damoiselle.

35 Easy DIY Mini Book Ideas

So you've made your first paper bag book! The only trouble is that paper bag books are like potato chips — you can't stop at one! Before you know it you're going to have a stack of nifty handmade brown bag books, and no idea what to do with them.

Never fear! With this list of projects, you'll never be at a loss. Here you'll find paper bag activity book ideas, scrapbooking for kids and adults, ideas for paper bag journals, DIY gift ideas for any occasion, and more!

What is a paper bag book?

A paper bag book, paper bag album, or paper bag scrapbook is exactly what it sounds like: a book made of paper bags. The most common material is brown paper lunch bags, but you can also use grocery bags, manila envelopes, paper gift bags, or any kind of flat paper receptacle.

I've created a tutorial on how to make a paper bag book with a beautiful hand-painted cover here on Squidoo. Paper bag books are a great craft project for kids and adults — they're quick, easy, useful, and recycled!

Once you have your paper bag book, what do you do with it? Here are more than 30 ideas for paper bag scrapbooks, journals, and other projects.

A Book Like This: Ideas For Kids

In fact, I filled one of my paper bag books with ... ideas for paper bag books! You can read it in this short video I made.

Paper Bag Book Journaling Ideas

  1. Keep a diary for one week. A paper bag journal is a great way to experiment with keeping a daily diary. Since there are only a few pages, the book will fill up fast and be "finished" after a week or two. Plus, the brown bag pages aren't "too nice" to use up on ordinary daily events.
  2. Keep a travel diary. On the next vacation or long car ride, write down a record of the trip in a paper bag journal. Glue in souvenirs such as tickets, menus and brochures, or keep them in the pockets.
  3. Make lists of anything you like, from your favorite books or TV shows to the different birds you saw on a nature walk, or the things you want to do this year.
  4. Collect quotations from famous people, your favorite song lyrics, or memorable remarks from the people around you.
  5. Start a dream journal. Each morning when you wake up, write down everything you can remember about your dreams the night before. Learn more about dream journals.

Paper Bag Scrapbooking Ideas

  1. Family album. Here's an easy one. Create a page for each member of the family, using their favorite colors.
  2. Stamp album. Paper bag albums are great for fledgling stamp collectors -- save the stamps from everyday mail and stick them in.
  3. Favorite things. Fill your paper bag scrapbook with a collection of "favorites": favorite color, favorite food, favorite book, movie, game, animal...
  4. Sticker album. Use up some of those hoarded stickers by displaying your favorites in a paper bag album. Arrange them by color, size, or subject.
  5. Achievements. Every kid has things they're proud of, whether it's acing a test, learning to swim, or winning a contest. Why not immortalize those moments in a paper bag scrapbook?
  6. Nature notes. More collection ideas: leaves, flowers, tree bark. Make notes about the plants, the weather, birds, etc.

Paper Bag Activity Book Ideas

  1. Puzzles. Create your own, or print some out from the web and glue them in. The internet has lots of resources for free mazes, connect the dots, logic puzzles, word searches, and other printable puzzles. Choose your favorite or mix them up.
  2. Coloring book. Again, you can use printable coloring pages or draw your own designs on the brown paper — the advantage here is that the neglected white crayons will finally get some play!
  3. I Spy. Cover pages in a detailed magazine collage — the busier, the better. Include a list of objects for kids to locate in the jumble, or just let them do their own thing.
  4. Paper dolls. Draw or glue a paper doll on each page, and store her paper clothes in the pockets. Or cut the doll out of card stock, and decorate the pages of the paper bag book with different scenes for her to explore: a castle, a forest, a distant planet...
  5. Puppet theater. Cut a window in one of the "pocket" pages and mount puppets on popsicle sticks to put on a show. You can find detailed directions for this project at That Artist Woman.
  6. Mini board games. Paint or draw game boards on the inner pages. Make the playing pieces from sturdy card stock, and store them in the pockets. Try tic-tac-toe, simplified checkers, concentration (memory), tangrams, or design a race game.
  7. Noisy book. Make a homegrown toy for a toddler. Paint and seal the pages of the paper bag book, then fill the pockets with rice, cellophane, bubble wrap, a jingle bell, or anything that makes an interesting noise. Glue the pockets shut. (Varnished brown paper will take quite a bit of hard usage! If you're worried about kiddo chewing on the pages, you could laminate them with clear contact paper after filling.)

Homemade Gift Ideas With Paper Bag Books

  1. Recipe book. A great gift for grads or newlyweds! Fill the pages of your paper bag books with recipes you want to share. Or cover the pages in delicious pictures, and write the recipes on cards that you tuck into the pockets.
  2. Photo album. Grandparents will love a handmade paper bag album full of family photos. (You may need to crop photos slightly to fit them onto the pages.)
  3. Mini calendar. A book made of four paper bags has 12 usable pages, enough for a full year. Print out these customizable printable calendar pages and add your own decorations for each month.
  4. Address or phone book. On each page, create a heading such as "Friends", "Family", and "Work". Be sure to add your own address or phone number to get them started!
  5. Scrapbooking kit. Want to get someone started in scrapbooking? Give them a homemade kit containing a hand-painted paper bag scrapbook, glue stick, and embellishments (bought, printed, or hand-made).
  6. Journaling kit. As mentioned above, paper bag books are great for the beginning journaler. Wrap up a handmade paper bag journal along with a couple of nice pens and a list of writing prompts.
  7. Coupon book. This is a great gift for kids to give. On each page of the paper bag book, design a personalized coupon that can be redeemed for whatever you choose: a day at the park, breakfast in bed, a free hug or a load of laundry. Instead of tearing the pages out, include a checkbox to mark when each coupon is used, and space for notes ("Tyler makes great toast!").

Creative Ideas For Paper Bag Books

  1. Write and illustrate a story. A paper bag book is a perfect vehicle for a child's short story, with or without pictures.
  2. Round robin story. Write the beginning of a story on the first page of a paper bag book, then pass it to a friend and have them write a page. Continue till the book is full. An excellent travel activity.
  3. Poetry. Store your own poems, or create an anthology of your favorites. Experiment with different forms and subjects.
  4. Sketchbook. Just like diaries, the paper bag book makes a great sketchbook because it's so simple — there's no need to worry about "ruining" a page. Fill a book with drawings or doodles.
  5. Gluebook or smash book. Just stick stuff in! (See Gluebooks for more information.)
  6. Jokes/riddles. Another great one for kids. Made a funny? Write it down in your paper bag book, then give the resulting compendium of laughs to a friend.
  7. Friendship book. Use a paper bag album as a deco or friendship book to swap with others. Check out the links for more on this mail art hobby!

Paper Bag Books For Homeschooling

  1. Write a report. The small format and easy construction of paper bag books makes them perfect for school projects such as book reports or field trip logs.
  2. Lapbooking. A paper bag book would make a fine element for a lapbook.
  3. Sorting. Use paper shapes or cards with the pockets of a paper bag album for sorting and classifying activities. Organize paper squares by color, words by type, animals by family, or countries by continent.

Holiday Ideas For Paper Bag Books

  1. Advent calendar. On each page of a four-bag paper bag book, glue two envelopes or pockets. Number them 1 to 24 and hide a Christmas surprise or message in each pocket.

  2. Thanksgiving round robin. At Thanksgiving, pass around a paper bag album with decorated pages, and have each person write about what they're grateful for this year. Start a collection of yearly Thanksgiving books.

  3. Guestbook. Decorate a paper bag album to coordinate with your party or event theme, and use it as a guestbook.

Got your own paperbag book ideas? - Share them here!

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    • flycatcherrr profile image


      4 years ago

      So many cool ideas for ways to use a very cool DIY book!

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I have made a couple of brown bag books. They are versatile. You can use them for so many purposes or themes.

    • junecampbell profile image

      June Campbell 

      5 years ago from North Vancouver, BC, Canada

      I have made a couple of brown bag books. They are versatile. You can use them for so many purposes or themes.

    • damoiselle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @tssfacts: Thank you!

    • damoiselle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @grannyann lm: Thank you! I hope you both have fun :)

    • damoiselle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @John Dyhouse: Mission accomplished! :)

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      I have seeb some very beautiful brown bag books around the internet, and have been saving bags for some time. Never seem to have time or rather always seem to have other things to do, but this has given me a bit of a kick - a little inspiration - thanks

    • grannyann lm profile image

      Ann Scaling Tucker 

      6 years ago from Enid, OK

      What neat ideas. I love it and I have a granddaughter who will too.

      Here is a little Squid Angel dust as I leave. Have a great weekend.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have never heard of these before. What a great idea. I can think of a lot of ideas just from your few suggestions. Thanks for sharing.

    • damoiselle profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Blackspaniel1: Thank you :)

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image


      6 years ago

      Nice lens


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