Gingerbread House Paper Bags

There's something even more sweet about a gift wrapped with a personal touch and tender care. 

We think these miniature gingerbread houses made from a natural kraft SOS grocery bag are just the thing to hold a cookie, a card, or a small trinket.  Believe it or not, they are also easy to make!

Start by gathering your supplies:

  • Small paper bag (any size will work)
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Puffy paint, crayons, or stickers

Design your gingerbread house:

  • Using puff paint or a crayon, decorate your paper bag keeping in mind that the top corners will eventually be folded to make your roof.  You can also use stickers or other embellishments to add a pop of color or visual interest.
  • Once your paint has dried, open the bag and fold the top corners of the bag down to create a triangle
  • Use a hole punch to create two holes

Gather your goodies!

  • Gather the goodies of your choice, and place them in your open bag

  • Tie with twine, string, or ribbon of your choosing

Enjoy your handiwork:

And remember, any flaws are just part of the charm!


Paper Bag Turkeys

Learn how to make an adorable centerpiece for your kid's table with just a couple of brown bags, white paper, a glue gun, and some scissors. 

You can refer to our previous post, How to Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag for a healthy, easy "stuffing."

Start by gathering your supplies:

  • One 1/6 BBL SOS grocery sack (ask at the checkout counter of your local grocery store)
  • Two 2# natural grocery bags or other small size (ask at the bakery counter of your local grocery store)
  • A hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • White copy paper (8 1/2 x 11") 
  • Three to four bags of popcorn, or see our post about how to make your own! How to Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag

    Make the frills:

    • Cut your 8 1/2 x 11" white paper lengthwise
    • Fold both pieces in half lengthwise
    • Use the scissors to make small cuts on the folded side to create loops

    Create your drumsticks:

    • Make a fist and stick your hand inside one of the small, brown bags
    • Using your free hand, mold the top of the bag into a more rounded shape
    • Fill 2/3 of the bag with popcorn and twist the bottom of the bag to keep it tight
    • Use the hot glue gun to secure the white frill on the bottom of your drumstick and glue the end of the frill to itself to keep it in place
    • Repeat for second drumstick

    Form the turkey's body:

    • Use the the larger brown grocery sack to create the body of your turkey
    • Similarly to your drumsticks, use your hands to smush the edges of the sack into a round shape
    • Fill the bag with popcorn
    • Fold the left and right edges at the bottom of the bag under, so you have three straight edges instead of one large one
    • Tuck the bottom edge of the bag under and hot glue gun it shut

    Isn't it a beauty?  Garnish with parsley, gourds, or any other fall favorites, and have an adult "carve" your bird for your guests to enjoy before the main event.  This one is sure to be a crowd pleaser for kids and adults alike!


    How to make a book cover from a paper grocery Sack.

    You can quickly, easily, and creatively protect textbooks from wear and tear with just a brown paper grocery sack!  

    What you’ll need:

    1. Standard 1/6 barrel grocery sack.  Ask at your local grocery store for a paper sack at check out.
    2. Scissors
    3. A Pencil
    Brown paper grocery bag with dictionary and scissors

    Step One:

    Open the bag and cut along a side seam from top to bottom and then all the way around the bottom of the bag until you are left with one large rectangle of paper and a small rectangle of paper that had previously been the bottom of the bag.  Discard the small rectangle, or have your kids cut it into strips and decorate it for book marks!

    Brown paper grocery bag cut and flattened

    Step Two:

    Lay your book in the center of the large rectangle of paper.  Use a pencil to mark the top and bottom of the bag then fold along the lines you made (longways).  Press the folds firmly, so that you have a crisp edge.

    Brown paper grocery bag with dictionary

    Step Three:

    Move the book to the left edge of the newly folded rectangle of paper.  Take the left edge of the paper so that it wraps around the left end of the book’s cover by about one third to one half of the width of the inside cover.  Remove the book and then fold the left edge to make a crisp crease in the paper.  Once you’ve made your crease, slip the cover of the book inside the edges of the fold.  Slide the cover down until it fits snugly against your crease.

    Natural Kraft SOS Grocery Bag book cover

    Step Four:

    Brown paper bag book cover

    Leaving the cover of the book tucked into the cover, take the right edge of the folded rectangle of paper and fold it over the back cover of the book so that it covers  between ½ and 1/3 of the back cover of the book when the book is closed.  You may need to trim down your folded rectangle of paper to fit your book.  Once you’ve measured and trimmed your paper, fold and press firmly.  As in step three, tuck the back cover of your book into the paper fold to secure the cover on your book.



    Finished brow paper grocery bag book cover

    You’ve successfully constructed a sturdy book cover from a brown paper bag.  If it’s for a child’s book, we suggest having them write in the name of the book and decorate it to their liking.  


    Some of our "junior" staff are excited to share their book cover creations with you.  Good luck in the new school year Braden Pete, Ashlyn, and Andrew!

     Braden Pete, Kindergarten 

    Braden Pete, Kindergarten 

     Ashlyn, Pre-K

    Ashlyn, Pre-K

     Andrew, First Grade

    Andrew, First Grade

    Want to Save Trees? Choose Paper.

    Part of what we all understand to be true is also entirely accurate – to make paper you must use trees.  What is a little less intuitive is that using paper products actually supports forests.  

    What it boils down to is that if there is demand for wood-based products like paper, there is incentive for landowners to maintain and responsibly manage forestland, which provides income.  Without the demand for wood-based products like paper, the land maintained as forests would likely be put to another economically beneficial use.

    Unlike in generations past where poor logging practices could be destructive, today’s forest owners follow national, state, and local requirements to grow forests in a way that preserves ecosystems and growth.  By using wood-based products like paper, consumers can contribute to maintaining a healthy forestry industry. 

    In fact, since the government began tracking forests in the 1950’s there are millions more acres of forestland than a generation ago!

    Don’t just save a tree, save a forest. – choose paper.

    Want to know more?  
    Please visit: Two Sides NA


    Plastic bags are a nuisance to many recycling facilities.

    Did you know that many recycling facilities do not accept plastic bags?  Though it seems counterintuitive, one of the best ways to help your municipality’s recycling efforts is to know what NOT to put into your recycling bin.

    Recyclables entering a single stream recycling process are sorted by automated equipment.  When plastic bags become wrapped around sorting disks, the equipment can no longer sort efficiently.  This results in staff having to routinely halt production  to clear the bags away from the sorting disks. 

    Lisa Disbrow, Director of Public Affairs for Waste Management's CID Recycling Center in Chicago, cites that the problems arising from plastic bags account for tens of thousands of dollars in added costs to the recycling process.  In addition to the incease in processing costs, clogs in the recycling equipment can cause mixed bales, which cannot be used by manufacturers and must be re-processed.

    The moral of the story is to keep those plastic bags out of your recycling bin.  You can rest at ease that your plastic bags will do more harm than good in the recycling bin.  On the other hand, please DO make sure that your paper grocery bags go into the recycling bin as they are widely accepted and easily recycled.


    Five Tips for Recycling During the Holidays

    Did you know that Americans throw away 25% more trash during the holiday season?

    That’s 25 million tons of extra garbage! Take these five easy steps to go green during the holidays.  

    1.) Skip the shiny wrapping paper.  In many areas it cannot be recycled, so check before you put it in the blue bin.  Instead, use untreated paper, like Ross & Wallace’s kraft paper, that can be recycled easily.  Kraft paper looks great plain, but if you have kids at home, we suggest enlisting the them to draw designs on it for a festive touch that keeps them entertained.

    2.) DO recycle your boxes, cans, and paper.  In the days of online holiday shopping, there are quite a few empty boxes laying around.  Though they can be cumbersome, cardboard boxes as well as cans, plastic milk jugs, and bottles are “high value” recyclables, but 69% of plastic bottles and 45% of aluminum cans don’t get recycled.

    3.) Keep plastic bags OUT of the recycling bin.  Though some grocery and retail stores will collect used plastic bags for recycling, they can clog equipment and shut down an entire recycling plant.  Because of this, Recycle Often Recycle Right has asked that plastic bags not be placed in with general recycling.  Deposit plastic bags at participating stores, but keep them out of your at-home bin.

    4.) Go compostable!  Soiled paper plates, cups, and napkins are not recyclable.  It’s best to opt for reusable items, but if you go the disposable route, look for compostable brands.  

    5.) Keep it clean and dry.  Soggy items can spoil an entire load of recycling!


    Plastic is out - Paper and Reusable Bags are in.

    California passed a statewide ban on single-use plastic carryout bags.

    GET THE FACTS on Proposition 67 “The Plastic Bag Ban.”

    • SENATE BILL 270 – In 2014 the California legislature passed Senate Bill 270, which prohibited certain businesses statewide from providing single-use plastic carryout bags and required businesses to charge customers for any other type of carryout bag provided at checkout.

    • PROPOSITION 67 – The implementation of Senate Bill 270 was suspended, because Proposition 67, which would eliminate the law, qualified to be on the 2016 ballot.  Proposition 67 asked California voters to decide whether the statewide carryout bag law should be upheld or rejected. On November 8, 2016, California’s voters passed Proposition 67, which upheld Senate Bill 270.

    • IMPACTS - Proposition 67 prohibits certain California stores (most grocery stores, convenience stores, large pharmacies, and liquor stores) from providing single-use plastic carryout bags statewide.

    • PAPER AND REUSABLE BAGS – Proposition 67 allows businesses to sell recycled paper bags and reusable bags at a minimum price of $.10 cents per bag.

    • EXCLUDES – Proposition 67 excludes bags for select purposes, such as wrapping unwashed produce and bags for prescription medications.  It also excludes certain types of stores such as retail clothing stores.  Certain low- income customers are also exempt.

    • FINES - ($1,000) per day for the first violation, two thousand dollars ($2,000) per day for the second violation, and five thousand dollars ($5,000) per day for the third and subsequent violations.

    • SUPPORTERS – Albertsons Safeway, The California Grocers Association, Surfrider Foundation, Clean Water Action.

    CASE STUDY: San Jose California
    San Jose’s Bring Your Own Bag Ordinance went into effect January 1, 2012.  Since then San Jose has reported a 76% reduction in plastic bags found in creeks and rivers as of the end of the 2016 hotspot season and a 69% reduction in plastic bags in storm drain inlets.


    How to Make Popcorn in a Paper Bag

    Did you know that microwave popcorn contains harmful chemicals that end up on your popcorn and in your belly?  Yeah, we know, that's gross.  Luckily, you can use a classic Ross & Wallace paper bag to make easy, delicious popcorn at home with just three ingredients: popcorn kernels, oil, and salt.  

    Popcorn in a Paper Bag

    Step 1, gather the essentials.

    1. Paper Bag (we used an 8#)
    2. 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels
    3. 1 tsp, of oil (we used olive oil)
    4. Salt


    Paper bag in microwave

    Step 2, combine and microwave

    Combine popcorn kernels and oil in your paper bag and fold 3-4 times to prevent the popcorn from escaping.  Place the folded bag in the microwave on high for 2 minutes or until popcorn stops popping in regular bursts. 


    Home made popcorn

    Step 3, add salt and shake
    Immediately add salt, or make it gourmet by drizzling melted chocolate or sprinkling on cheese flavoring. Shake well and ENJOY!

    Homemade popcorn that's easy, inexpensive, and good for you.