I have previously posted some photos of gifts I have made for various people. However, the problem of packaging reared its ugly head when I realized I had a shortage of tiny boxes or bags suitable for such tiny gifts. Fortunately, my library recently acquired some papercrafting supplies, and I decided to take advantage of this problem to learn how to make my own gift bags!
There were some trial runs using construction paper so I could get a feel for the process, and some experimentation to see whether I could diverge from the official instructions. Once that was out of the way, I went ahead and just followed the directions because that works best. I will note that a 4"/10cm strip of paper results in a bag that is a bit too short even for these tiny gifts, so bear that in mind should you get this gadget and make your own.
The product I used was the We R Memory Keepers Gift Bag Punch Board. The depth of the sides is fixed, but the width has three options, and the height is based on the strip of paper you use less the depth of the fold tabs that form the bottom. Even with the construction paper I used to test this, I had little problem with the scoring tool tearing through the paper, and proper card stock held up quite well.
For this demonstration, I will show how I made a bag using paper printed with a denim pattern. After all, the best part about making your own gift bags is choosing to defy expectations for the season!
Step 1: Scoring and Scalloping
The board includes a die that punches out the pattern for the flaps that form the bottom of the bag, and judicious use of the grooves and scoring tool allow the creating of fold lines. As each stage is done, the paper is shifted to the next fold line in order to make the next punch and score the next set of lines. Just remember to alternate the accordion-folding sides and the flat panels.
Step 2: Punching Holes and Trimming
Opposite the flap scalloping die is a hole punch. This has a marker to line up the appropriate crease as a guide for accurate location of the holes. The glue flap needs to be trimmed at an angle so it joins properly (see below). I gently creased all the fold lines in preparation to glue the bag together after that.
Step 3: Glue!
Part 1 of this step is gluing the side flap to make the flat paper into a rectangular bag shape. Glue sticks are your friend here. use some discarded paper to catch the excess. A double-sided tape dispenser like those used for scrapbooking would also work nicely for less mess.
Part 2 is gluing the flaps that form the bottom once the side is secure. Pre-plan your folding so you know which long flap will be folded in last. Add glue to the shorter flaps, fold in the first long flap, add glue to its edge, and then fold the last one in after that. It's easier to do than it is to explain. Once it's all positioned correctly, flip the bag right-side-up and use a heavy object that fits inside the bag to press the flaps flat and ensure a good glue bond.
Step 4: Finishing Touches
Once your bags are glued, add string, twine, or ribbon handles woven through the punched holes at the top, and make tags out of interesting leftover scraps. I used a plaid print tag on the denim print bags because it amused me. Your mileage may vary, but if you don't like it, go make your own!
I think this is a decent tool for the job. I needed a few trial runs to make sure I followed the steps in the right order, but once I was sure I knew what I was doing, it was quick enough. I like the option to create something exactly like what I want, provided the right paper is on hand. I'm not sure how durable it will be over the long run, but it didn't feel too cheap in my experiments. I give it a tentative vote of approval.